Select Page


WHEN MICHAEL URTIAGA goes on job interviews, he regularly gets asked the question, “How were you ready to balance an MBA education at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business together with your previous full-time job near Cincinnati?”

The answer: The 36-year-old, who’s now in between jobs, pursued his MBA online through the Kelley Direct program – not by traveling to the varsity on the weekends, as some interviewers initially assume as long as he lives a few two-hour chase away from the campus.

Urtiaga says interviewers generally seem accepting of his online degree given the strong reputation of the varsity . Still, he sometimes must answer questions on the pros and cons of online learning and therefore the real-world benefits the web program offers.

“Oftentimes, you’ll see their faces change as you undergo the conversation,” says Urtiaga, who completed his MBA last year and is now pursuing a web master’s in strategic management as a part of a dual course of study at Kelley. There’s still a touch of a stigma, he says, but people usually come around once they hear a number of the format’s virtues.

[ DISCOVER four questions employers ask about job applicants with online degrees. ]
Recruiters say most employers accept job candidates’ online MBAs from respected schools, especially now that the standard of a web MBA education at many institutions is like one on a physical campus. But in some cases, experts say, there’s still the necessity to teach companies about the legitimacy of the many online programs.

A significant portion of employers won’t even ask about the format during which the degree was earned, says Adam J. Samples, regional president of Atrium Staffing in New Jersey. Others will only dig deeper if they need a selected reason to – as in Urtiaga’s case, where they see he worked while pursuing his MBA.

In the latter scenario, as an example , a possible employer might ask why the scholar chose the web route to an education and the way the program works, experts say. What’s most vital , however, is that the reputation of the institution and its accreditation.

“I think more and more employers do not have a knee-jerk negative or positive reaction once they hear the word ‘online,'” says Richard Garrett, chief research officer at Eduventures, a search and advisory firm for education institutions.

Samples says within the half of his 12-year career, employers he worked with generally expressed concerns with online degrees. They were unsure, for instance , whether students were learning vital business skills gained during a classroom setting, like group collaboration.
But that perception has changed as well-known schools embrace online learning and meet high academic standards – though there’s still some hesitancy over online MBAs from for-profit institutions, Samples says.

Employers’ growing acceptance of online MBAs is sweet news for online learners as business administration remains the foremost popular graduate degree pursued online, consistent with a 2015 survey by Aslanian marketing research and therefore the Learning House.

“I think it’s an exciting time,” says Mike Schmeckebier, associate director of graduate career services at Indiana’s Kelley School of Business, of the growing acceptance among employers. “In five to seven, eight years, we’re getting to reminisce , and we’re getting to identify this point as really the turning point of when this was really coming to fruition.”

Experts say most employers now understand that a web education not only provides essential workplace skills and student-faculty interaction but also allows students to use course material on to their job, and the other way around .

But not all hiring managers are conversant in online learning. And, at some larger companies, earning a web degree can make the hiring process harder .

For instance, Schmeckebier says, at big firms with established hiring processes, it’s going to be questionable who – a campus recruiter or a recruiter for experienced candidates – would do the hiring for a web MBA student who’s also working.

“They fall under this type of grey area ,” Schmeckebier says.

That’s to not say that big firms won’t hire candidates with online degrees, he says, but doing so occasionally requires additional work from the company’s end. Schmeckebier believes schools with online MBA programs should dedicate longer and resources to educating employers about online programs and creating proper recruitment channels.

When it involves a resume, it is not necessary to state that a program was completed online, experts say. If the corporate is curious, they’ll ask.

Kristen Zierau, director of executive recruiting for Clarke Caniff Strategic Search, says recruiters at the chief search firm first ask hiring mangers if they’re hospitable candidates with online MBAs.