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What to Expect When Earning Your Online MBA: A Survival Guide

November 24, 2015
What to expect when earning your mba online

Because balancing work, family, school and life doesn’t have to be stressful

Each year, tens of thousands of students across the United States pursue their MBA online and with good reason: it offers the flexibility that many working professionals need. So whether you’ve begun your coursework or are getting ready to do so, you may be wondering what to expect and how you’ll handle this added element to your already busy life. While it may seem challenging, there’s no reason you cannot balance work, life and your online MBA program. To help you, we’ve created this brief overview on what to expect and tips on surviving with as little stress as possible.


Realize that you many need to alter your priorities to give yourself the time you need to accomplish assignments and coursework. Certain household chores may have to be delegated to others in your family. Non-work or study related commitments may need to be rescheduled. Determine what your focus should be and make the lifestyle changes necessary to accommodate them. Remember, these changes won’t be permanent.

Map out a schedule

The biggest mistake that many graduate students make is not planning out their time between work and school. There are only so many hours in each day and you cannot do everything at the same time, which makes scheduling an important key to success. Sit down at the beginning of each week and plan out which deadlines for both work and school you’ll need to address, then to map out a schedule that allots the time needed for each.

Communicate with your employer

Having the support and understanding of your company is another key component to successfully pursuing your online MBA. According to an article on Poets and Quants for Executives, it’s important to communicate with your employer ahead of time and let them know your plans. Doing so not only gives them a heads up of your career aspirations, it allows you to more comfortably implement things you’re learning in the program within your work environment.

Take care of yourself

As you begin your online MBA program you will be busier than you can imagine. Although an online MBA program affords you much more flexibility than an on-campus one, it’s important to allow yourself time for exercise and eating healthy, balanced meals. Science tells us that eating right, staying fit and getting enough rest is key to optimal brain functioning—and keeping a sharp, focused mind is critical to your MBA success.

Take advantage of discussion boards, optional workshops and lectures

The flexibility of an online MBA program allows you to complete coursework and assignments when it is best for you, which means you have access to your lectures, materials and study guides 24/7. In addition, online MBA programs usually provide a variety of resources including student discussion boards, workshops and lectures that can only enrich your experience and help you connect and network with other students, which is a key benefit of pursuing your MBA online.

Acquaint yourself with the technology

While online MBA programs are built to be intuitive and easy to navigate, it’s a smart idea to get acquainted with the technology you’re going to be using and how all your coursework is going to be managed. Also important is making sure your Internet connection is of the required speed so you don’t experience lags in videos or have issues when submitting assignments.

Get noise cancelling headphones

Whether you have a husband and six kids or you live with roommates, having a quiet environment is also vital to gaining the most from your online MBA lessons. John Byrne, correspondent for Poets and Quants for Executives recommends getting a good pair of noise cancelling headphones. This way, no matter what your home life is like, you’ll be able to block out any distracting noises that may interfere with your coursework.

Strike a balance to reduce stress and achieve your goals

According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), graduates from MBA programs experience a noteworthy boost in salary and promotion opportunities, so the value of such an accomplishment is undeniable. Yet balancing a full-time career, your family and earning an online MBA can be a challenge. By planning ahead and following these tips, you’ll not only survive your MBA program—you’ll thrive in it. If you’re ready to pursue your MBA, CSUMB is a great place to get started. Contact us today.