North Wales Management School - Wrexham University

Increasing the odds for a salary increase: the advantages of an online MBA degree

Posted on: June 27, 2024
Online student at desk with laptop and calculator

The pursuit of an MBA has long been considered a reliable gateway to career advancement and lucrative post-MBA salary outcomes, but the more recent rise of online education is now giving prospective MBA students a new option: online MBA degrees.

These online programmes have become an increasingly popular choice among professionals seeking to enhance their careers – in many cases, they are now even more popular than the traditional full-time, in-person MBA options.

For example, a 2022 Forbes article reported that online MBA students now outnumber full-time MBAs in the United States, and there’s a similar movement happening in the United Kingdom, with the Financial Times reporting a 43.5% increase in applications for online MBA programmes in the UK:

“Online MBA courses are evidently no longer a niche activity, but have become as large and selective in their intake as their campus-taught counterparts.”

The differences between traditional and online MBA degrees

Traditional MBA and executive MBA programmes are typically on-campus, in-person, full-time commitments, and often require students to take an MBA career break. The rigid structure of these programmes is beneficial for some students, but can pose challenges for others, such as working professionals who need more flexibility.

This is where online MBA degrees have been able to disrupt the traditional business education model, providing an alternative pathway for career-driven individuals. The online format enables students to engage with coursework from anywhere in the world – without compromising the quality of education – and allows them to balance the demands of work and education seamlessly.

Reasons to choose an online MBA degree

Flexibility and accessibility

One of the greatest advantages of online MBA programmes is their flexibility, because it means that professionals can pursue their studies without the need to sacrifice their current job or relocate.

This benefit cannot be overstated. Balancing the demands of a full-time job with the rigours of an MBA programme can be exceptionally challenging, while a part-time MBA with online learning provides the autonomy to manage both responsibilities effectively.

Online MBAs also mean students can immediately apply their newfound knowledge in their current roles, potentially fast-tracking their career growth and salary progression.

Customisation and specialisation

Online MBA programmes often provide a wide range of specialisations that cater to diverse career paths. Whether one’s interests lie in business analytics, healthcare, entrepreneurship, or information technology, the ability to tailor modules or research to personal goals or interests enhances the overall learning experience and prepares graduates for greater success in their chosen fields.

Choosing a specialisation can also impact salary outcomes for MBA graduates. Specialised knowledge in areas such as project management or human resources, for example, can help make graduates more attractive to employers and recruiters.

Global networking opportunities and alumni connections

Contrary to common misconceptions, online MBA programmes offer robust networking opportunities. Virtual networking events, discussion forums, and collaborative projects facilitate connections with classmates and global alumni networks, all of which can play a pivotal role in securing job opportunities or gaining insights into specific industries even after graduation.

Establishing and nurturing these professional connections can prove invaluable for career advancement, and creates an MBA experience that extends well beyond the confines of a virtual classroom.

Adaptability and employability

The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the importance of digital skills and adaptability in the workforce, and online MBA graduates, already familiar with virtual collaboration, find themselves well-equipped to navigate the post-pandemic era of flexible and remote work arrangements. And this adaptability is increasingly being recognised by employers, so MBA graduates with a foundation in online learning and collaborating seamlessly across digital platforms may have a competitive edge.

The relationship between online MBAs and salary increases

Increases in salary are a significant driver for MBA applications, with the average salary for an MBA graduate in the UK currently sitting at £55,000 per year. But there’s a lingering myth that online MBA degrees may not yield the same prestige or, crucially, the same starting salary or salary increases that their traditional counterparts generate.

However, recent data suggests otherwise. Online MBA grads report a competitive base salary or salary increases in the job market, challenging the notion that the mode of education impacts the value of the degree in the job market.

Fortune magazine, for example, reports that businesses “see the same value in an MBA degree, no matter how the student attended class” and that the reputation of the institution is what matters in terms of career progression and earning the highest salary, rather than the mode of study itself.

Considerations when choosing an online MBA programme

The time and financial cost of pursuing an online MBA can be significant, and while the potential return on investment – in terms of average salary increase and earning potential, career advancement, expanded professional networks, and so on – can make it a wise choice, it also means it’s crucial prospective students conduct thorough research, consider their long-term career objectives, and fully weigh their options to make their MBA worth it.

This advice becomes even more relevant given the increasing number of online MBA programmes to choose from, with each boasting different advantages, from their MBA ranking and accreditation to possible specialisations and institutional research strengths.

Factoring in the reputation of the institution can help make the selection process easier, as can the programme’s structure and format. Remember not all online MBA programmes are created equal. Prospective students should consider the support they’ll receive during their programme, and the level of interaction with academic staff and other students it offers, because balancing the autonomy of online learning with meaningful engagement – through virtual discussions, group projects, and networking events – is crucial for a comprehensive educational experience.

Finally, considerations should also factor in entry requirements, whether it’s existing work experience or placements, a Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) score – administered by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) – or English language requirements.

Take your career to the next level with an online MBA

Learn how to think critically, plan effectively, and implement strategic plans for maximum impact with the 100% online Master of Business Administration (MBA) at North Wales Management School, part of Wrexham University. This flexible MBA degree has been designed for ambitious, self-starting professionals who are looking to fast-track their careers with a deeper understanding of business and leadership skills, and has the added benefit of ranking in the Top 10 in the UK for Teaching Quality in the The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2024.

The comprehensive curriculum of the programme covers key business disciplines including marketing, finance, strategic management, and human resource management, and will develop your skills and knowledge in:

  • finding solutions to complex business challenges
  • creativity and idea generation
  • communication and stakeholder management skills
  • analytical techniques – turning data into actionable insights
  • understanding and leveraging macro trends.

You’ll also receive full academic support and learn in an interactive online learning environment where you will interact with fellow MBA students around the world and expand your global network.