With unemployment in February currently at 8.3%, the job market continues to be tough. Not only is there increased competition for job openings, there is also increased competition for promotions. One way to improve your marketability is to improve your education, but with bills to pay it isn’t feasible to stop working and go back to school. Enter the online MBA.
Do a quick search on Google for “online MBA degree” and you’ll see that there are plenty of universities offering online degrees. Some of these programs are from universities with nationally recognized brands, but others you probably haven’t heard of. While they have well-designed websites and look like great options, a healthy dose of skepticism is in order. So how do you know if they’re a credible MBA program? Here are the 2 best ways to validate your choice:
Are They Accredited?
This is the simplest check to perform. There are two international organizations that accredit business schools, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). While each has a slightly different focus, accreditation from each is equivalent. For what it’s worth, Harvard Business School is accredited through the AACSB and the University of Phoenix is accredited through the ACBSP.
Either way accreditation confirms that the institution meets a set of predetermined criteria. For example, the AACSB business accreditation standards focus on the following 3 areas:
- Strategic Management Standars
- Participants Standards
- Assurance of Learning Standards
Who Has Graduated From Their Program?
Most programs like to brag about their high-profile alumni. The Harvard Business School has an entire site set up that talks about what alumni are up to (and a portal to help them stay connected of course). But while it’s nice to know of famous people that got their MBA from such-and-such school, it’s more helpful if you can actually talk to someone. Courtesy of social networking it’s easy to find alumni through LinkedIn. When you’re logged in to your account, just type in the name of the school in the search box (it’s in the upper right corner). LinkedIn displays results based on relevancy, which means people that are most closely connected to you. At this point you can send a message to reach out and ask questions of an alum.