One of the most challenging things about going to graduate school for your Master’s or Ph.D degree is figuring out how to work while you do it. Since many MBA programs not only favour, but often require, applicants to have a certain amount of professional experience, dropping out of the workforce to advance your education is probably not an option.
In addition, most business schools are expensive, and there aren’t many people who can afford to cut back on a steady income while they take classes. Also, if your employer will help pay for your MBA, you’ll want to take advantage of that perk.
The good news is that it’s possible to design a class schedule that allows you to work full time while earning your MBA, and embracing a business mindset can help you do it.
Here are a few tips on how to combine an MBA degree with work:
1. Look for a suitable part-time or online MBA degree
Whether you have a full-time or part-time job, applying for a full-time MBA, as much as you would like it, is not an option. A full-time MBA truly means 100% dedication in terms of studying for that degree. Since this is not your case, you’ll need to make a compromise and choose a part-time or online MBA degree, which is specifically dedicated to working professionals like yourself.
Part-time and online MBA programs are equally acknowledged and valued by employers and they have the same curriculum as traditional full-time MBAs. So, they are exactly what you need in terms of schedule and career goals. The only downside is that it will require more time to complete, usually three years instead of two. However, most online MBA courses require two years of attendance as well.
Some online MBA programs offer GMAT waivers to experienced applicants.
Check out MBA programmes in America that don't require a GMAT.
Great universities and business schools offering online MBAs
- Nottingham Trent University
- Arden University
- London School of Business and Finance
- Aston University
- The Open University UK
- University of Essex Online
- Kettering University Online
2. Make a list of pros and cons for your chosen MBA degree
You need to create a smooth plan for getting your MBA so look into further details in terms of costs, entry requirements, class attendance, curriculum, and other features and benefits of the MBA programme.
An MBA degree is not only a serious commitment but you’ll certainly want to make sure you make the best decision and that you will actually get value from your Business degree.
Verify if you have chances of being admitted and see if the curriculum fits with what you expect to learn from an MBA. Check if the business school frequently organises workshops or any kind of business networking and events. These are important elements meant to enhance practical business skills.
3. Design the perfect study schedule well in advance
If you know how to manage your time, your days will become easier and you'll find yourself achieving tasks more efficiently. The first step in designing a schedule that will align with working full time is to figure out what you need in terms of flexibility—at work and at home. If you have rigid requirements from your employer, you’ll need to find a study program that offers control over schedule design.
You might even be able to integrate your schoolwork into your job in a way that will also benefit your employer, and you may possibly need time off to meet an urgent deadline.
Keep track of your responsibilities for both your job and your MBA degree. Set up a calendar for important meetings and tasks from your job and a different one for assignments and tests. Create specific study times and stick with them.
This way, you’ll ensure that you do not finish MBA assignments during work and do not work during MBA study time as well.
The same is true when it comes to your personal life. If you have a family that will be impacted by your educational plans, it’s best to consider everyone’s needs so that you’ll have the support required to help you succeed.
Basically, you need to build a team that both understands (and supports) the journey that lies ahead. Make sure your family is on board, and let your employer know of your plans.
4. Find practical gadgets to learn anytime, anywhere
With so many apps and tech devices available these days, anyone can become a multi-tasking person and complete many activities very fast. For instance, during your commute, you can read some of your courses or schedule the work plan for the day, maybe even send the most important e-mails or have a quick Skype meeting with a client.
Record your Business courses and listen to them on your headphones while you’re talking a walk.
These are just a few and simple examples of how you can benefit from technology to create a perfect study and work balance.
5. Squeeze in some time for relaxing activities
Although having a job, studying for an MBA degree and maybe even also taking care of your family may be overwhelming at times, you need to fit in your busy schedule a little time for yourself. A little relaxation time helps you keep a psychological and emotional balance. So, go out and meet your friends for a coffee, see a movie or read a novel instead of your Business courses.
These are simple tricks that will help you unload and focus better on what you have to do next with your studies and work as well.