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Should I Get an Online MBA? 6 Key Skills Howard Online MBA Students Develop

August 24, 2021

Business administration is an incredibly complex discipline encompassing everything related to the oversight of business operations. It takes years to master. There are hundreds of degree programs designed to help aspiring business leaders sharpen their skills—but the Master of Business Administration is the yardstick by which all other business degrees are judged.

There are many good reasons to get an MBA degree. Howard University MBA graduates bring work experience in general management positions across industries and leadership roles in fields as diverse as healthcare, consulting, finance, and technology management. They also have the qualifications necessary to advance into the highest-paying career paths and executive positions like CEO, CIO, and CTO. Post-graduation salaries vary widely, but newly minted MBA grads often earn a base salary of between $85,000 and $100,000 on average, and MBA salaries tend to rise quickly. In-demand positions for MBAs, like health services administrator and financial manager, sometimes pay a lot more.

Should I get an online MBA?’ isn’t the question you should ask yourself because the value of an MBA doesn’t change based on how you earn it. Instead, ask, ‘What is the right MBA for you?’ Howard’s Online MBA prepares you to step into top-tier roles like director, vice president, and even CEO, but that’s not the only return on investment. This guide will show you how the key competencies emphasized in our Online MBA curriculum translate into career success.

Before we delve into what makes our program unique, however, let’s look at why Howard University School of Business put its MBA program online.

Who typically gets an online MBA?

Colleges and universities have worked to accommodate undergrad and master’s degree students seeking flexible study options since before the Internet’s advent with varying degrees of success. Most early MBA programs for distance learners couldn’t offer an experience comparable to on-campus programs because the technology wasn’t up to the challenge. Today’s programs can, thanks to faster Internet speeds and streaming—both of which made online programs with live classes, real-time discussions, and relationship-building group work possible. The top online MBA programs replicate many elements of the traditional MBA experience, including domestic and international immersions and internships, which is why the benefits of earning an online MBA are the same as the benefits of earning an MBA on campus.

Howard University’s 48-credit, three-year Online MBA delivers the same high-quality business education as our full-time campus program so students can pursue a Master of Business Administration while working full-time or meeting personal obligations. Our program’s blend of asynchronous coursework and synchronous classes lets MBA students with busy personal and professional lives find the right balance between school and other responsibilities. You can complete classwork when it’s most convenient and still reap the benefits of facetime with professors and peers. Motivated students can complete the program faster by taking courses on an accelerated timetable covering all the same ground as the typical part-time schedule.

What skill sets will you learn in Howard’s Online MBA program?

All b-schools approach the MBA syllabus differently. We’ve created a curriculum in which each course has a role in helping early to mid-career professionals develop real-world experience, grow as business leaders, build their professional networks, and hit their career goals. Our approach focuses on six applied skills relevant across business disciplines:

Leadership skills

Mary Parker Follett famously described business administration as “the art of getting things done through people.” Today, that increasingly means people with culturally diverse backgrounds in a global business environment, which means influential leaders have to be respectful of social and economic differences. Leaders set strategic goals, create cohesive corporate cultures and motivate employees, and build and nurture teams, craft a company’s vision for the future, and cast the deciding vote when there are tough decisions to be made.

There’s more to leadership than team-building and decision-making, however. In addition to being agents of change, leaders have to help their teams adapt to the changes they bring about. One resume-worthy example of leadership might involve coaching a team to adopt a new sales strategy after a rebrand. In courses like “Project Management” and “Entrepreneurship,” Howard’s Online MBA program examines leadership from many different angles, and our students develop both practical and creative leadership skills.

Communication skills

Effective managers and executives must communicate both verbally and in writing with people at every level of an organization. Clear workplace communication is the key to employee motivation, interdepartmental collaboration, trust-building, and more. Leaders convey the company’s vision to board members, set clear expectations for employees, and give respectful feedback. On resumes, communication skills showcase action; people with strong communication skills resolve disputes, build relationships, develop training materials, negotiate deals, and present in front of large audiences.

To improve your verbal and written communication skills, you need to understand business communication best practices. Our Online MBA program teaches you to be an active listener, ask strategic questions, and give feedback that helps employees grow. Besides internal workplace communication skills, emphasized across the curriculum, students learn practical external communication skills in courses like “Marketing Management.”

Problem-solving skills

Business leaders solve complex global business challenges while anticipating and managing risks. The skills necessary to do this aren’t innate, which is why MBA programs teach critical thinking, analytics, and ethics. Effective managers have to consider how each decision they make affects people, profits, and organizations. They also handle challenging and unexpected situations, logically and calmly. Solutions in business are seldom obvious, making it critically important that managers and executives have the skills to examine and assess challenges from multiple angles. Research, data analytics, brainstorming, and decisiveness all come into play. Problem-solving skills often show up on resumes in the form of actionable solutions. A job candidate might explain how they improved process efficiency or saved a company millions of dollars.

Online MBA students at Howard learn to use an integrated approach when solving problems, so they recognize the short- and long-term impact of their decisions. In classes like “Managerial Accounting,” students tackle business management problems using fixed methods, while courses like “Data Analytics” help them examine challenges in a variety of different ways using granular information.

Strategic management skills

Management is so much more than just telling people what to do and using limited resources efficiently. Effective leaders develop comprehensive business strategies that leverage human resources, technology, physical resources, and data over the long term. That’s the difference between tactical thinking and strategic management. Strategic management involves both thinking (i.e., determining direction) and planning (i.e., creating an actionable blueprint and business policy) and is applicable in all business areas. Strategic management skills come into play when executives and managers set organizational objectives, allocate resources, develop policies, build teams, and create short- and long-term plans. MBAs who become consultants need powerful strategic management skills because their role is to help companies strengthen their strategies.

Online MBA students at Howard University take “Organizational Management” in term one as an introduction to concepts related to organizational operations, structures, and oversight. Before graduation, they put everything they learn about strategic management throughout the program into practice in the “Strategic Management Capstone” course, culminating in a presentation in front of faculty and top industry professionals.

Ethical management and decision-making skills

Corporations make choices that have internal and external consequences. Many MBA programs include ethics in the curriculum, but not all of them teach decision-making skills in the context of good corporate citizenship. Howard’s Online MBA teaches students that businesses can be successful while also benefiting humanity. Business people don’t have to sacrifice their integrity and morality to have a rewarding career.

Ethical management is the governing philosophy that employees, shareholders, owners, and the public all deserve respect. It comes into play in financial management, crisis management, conflict management, risk management, and day-to-day decision-making. Ethical leaders discern and apply business ethics in everything they do. They use the same rational, data-driven decision-making processes as other managers and executives, but their decision-making skills aren’t driven entirely by what they see on balance sheets. They use intuition, they see the human factor, and they’re willing to collaborate with others.

At Howard, ethics and decision-making skills appear across our curriculum. Students have ample opportunities to consider the effects of different choices and strategies on both organizations and people in classes like “Financial Management” and “Production and Operations Research.”

Integration and synthesis skills

Being able to leverage all of the above skills when solving problems and making decisions is crucial. The best leaders apply concepts from different business disciplines in novel ways (integration) and use multiple data forms when making decisions (synthesis). Critical thinking—the ability to objectively analyze an issue—is necessary for integrating and synthesizing information. Managers and executives spend time developing many different kinds of skills within themselves and in their teams. To solve problems or make decisions, they must evaluate the challenge at hand and determine which of those skills will lead to the right solution.

Howard Online MBA students learn critical thinking and to synthesize information through practice. Courses like “Statistics and Business Analytics,” “Financial Accounting,” and “Principles of Information Systems” cover very different areas of business. Still, students use what they learn in each of them in subsequent courses.

So, should I get an MBA online?

Today, the question isn’t ‘Should I get an online MBA?’ but rather ‘Should I get an MBA?’ because the vast majority of MBA programs for distance learners confer a traditional Master of Business Administration. An online MBA is just another MBA—one that demonstrates you can work independently and have above-average time management skills. You don’t have to worry that future employers will judge your choice to study online because the chances are that they’ll see it as evidence of your determination and grit. Pursuing an MBA online is one of the smartest investments you can make in yourself without putting your life on hold.

An Online MBA from Howard can help you overcome frustrating career plateaus, boost your earning potential, and give you the qualifications you need to climb to the highest rungs of the corporate ladder. Like most highly rated programs, however, Howard University’s Online MBA is for professionals. If you’ve just emerged from an undergraduate business program, you’ll need to spend a few years in the working world before applying. The Online MBA curriculum is advanced, and students need to have a firm grasp of business fundamentals to succeed in each of the program’s core courses and elective classes. You can’t have too much experience because there’s always something to learn.

Prospective students often ask questions like ‘Am I too old for an MBA?’ or ‘Should I get an MBA at 40?’ The answer is complicated because mid- and late-career professionals might not see the same post-graduation income bump as younger students. The new strategies, theories, best practices, and skills you learn in an MBA program can still put you on the executive track, however, or lead to opportunities in business areas you haven’t yet explored. Online MBA programs like Howard’s are often the better option for established professionals.

The same is true for budding and experienced entrepreneurs who want the freedom and flexibility to launch new enterprises when opportunities arise. People tend not to associate entrepreneurship with MBAs, but many of the world’s most successful innovators and start-up founders have this degree. MBA programs don’t turn risk-averse students into risk-takers or help them dream up paradigm-shifting ideas but teach them how to turn their ideas into thriving companies.

Entrepreneurs and aspiring executives are on equal footing when it comes to paying for an MBA. Only about a third of MBA candidates across schools and programs receive employer funding, but MBA students have an edge at Howard. All incoming business school students, including distance learners, have access to a team of financial aid advisors who can help them secure scholarships, loans, and other financial assistance.

Should I get an online MBA at Howard?

Only you can answer this question, and finances shouldn’t be the only factor driving your decision. Reputation matters when it comes to business degrees and can impact everything from how quickly you reach your lifetime earning potential. Howard University School of Business is a top-ranking business school by Bloomberg Businessweek and the U.S. News & World Report. Our 100% online program delivers the same excellent academic experience for which Howard is known, and the same career support students receive on campus. The Howard Career Center maintains partnerships with leading corporations, startups, and nonprofit organizations, and our Online MBA graduates can leverage those partnerships to access resources and introductions. The HU Alumni network is extensive and another rich source of opportunity. Most importantly, Howard MBA students are sought after by recruiters from around the DC area and across the United States.

Our accredited online MBA program is one of the few laser-focused on specific key skills executives need—Howard gives students from diverse business and cultural backgrounds access to unparalleled pre-and post-graduation resources.

Do you have at least two years of professional experience and a Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university? If you want to further your education and take your career to the next level, request more information about Howard’s Online MBA program or, better yet, start your application.

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