The virtual classroom: exploring online MBA choices in Asia

Updated: Jul 22

EXECUTIVE EDUCATION: Taking on a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) is not just a large financial investment for candidates in Southeast Asia — it also requires a significant time commitment away from their day to day work.

That, combined with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic is why many business schools here are seeing a rise in demand for online study formats in their MBA programs.

In many markets across Southeast Asia, full-time study can be financially unfeasible, as it means both paying course fees and relinquishing salary. This is where the growth in online study options has meant greater opportunities for business leaders here.

By working and studying simultaneously, online-focused students certainly increase their workload, which can have its challenging aspects, but they are also to ensure that the bills keep getting paid.

Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic has sent many workers to their home offices, paving the way for a improved work-life balance that allows students to study and work simultaneously. According to the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) in Singapore, Asian students generally have more work experience than their peers in America or Europe.

Given the academic commitment required to take on a high-level MBA, students in the region elect to divide their course part-time over two years instead of completing the entire qualification in just one. The Admissions Council says 90% of Asia-based business schools reported an increase in applications for two-year programmes in 2021, up from 55% the previous year. By contrast, one-year programmes in the region have not seen the same astronomic growth, staying relatively stable over the same period.

One caveat for students wishing to take their degree online is that some employers believe they are not as valuable as in-person degrees. In fact, only 29% of recruiters in Asia agreed or strongly agreed that their organisations valued online and on-campus programs equally. As part of a more comprehensive yearly survey, 2021 was the first time recruiters were asked this question by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the primary accreditation group for business schools.

This opinion was extracted from Chief of Staff Asia's report on Executive Education. For further coverage, and access to the full report, please see any of the below links:

The self-funded MBA army: New trends in post-Covid executive education (full report)

Asian business schools on the rise (news highlight).

Local demand for MBAs rising across Southeast Asia (feature).

MBA Graduates enjoy growing demand (infographic).

Southeast Asia's place in the global business school landscape (feature).

The virtual classroom: Exploring online MBA choices in Asia (feature).

MBAs and Executive MBAs: Who should be footing the bill? (feature).

Executive education: A reneweed case for employer sponsorship (opinion).

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