Skip to main content
13 Jun

5 Ways the Digital Age Has Transformed MBA Education

With 90 percent of American adults online1 and more than 77 percent of adults owning smartphones,2 it's no wonder that universities are eager to take advantage of new educational opportunities in this connected world. Online MBA programs are just one example of this trend, as business schools are increasingly exploring learn-from-anywhere options to increase their programs’ accessibility to a diverse body of students. The flexibility afforded by online MBA programs allows students to be mobile, work while they study, or create a study schedule that works for them. Here's a more detailed look at the ways Online MBA programs have evolved to make advanced degrees more attainable for a wider variety of students.

How long to get an MBA

1. Study Anywhere, Any Time

No longer does getting an MBA require uprooting your life, moving to a different state (or country) and finding new living accommodations for several years. With online MBA study, students can enroll in classes at their university of choice without having to relocate. In William & Mary’s Online MBA program, for example, course materials are delivered in a convenient online classroom, and the W&M Connect mobile app allows for on-the-go access, so students can study at home, on breaks at work, on vacation—wherever.

Online learning is moving toward becoming the new normal, with fewer students studying on campus as a result. A report by U.S. News & World Report found that between 2012 and 2015, the total number of on-campus students at American universities decreased by nearly 1 million.3

At the same time, the number of students enrolling in online courses is steadily increasing. The number of American students enrolled in at least one online course rose by 5.6 percent between 2015 and 2016. That's a faster rate than the previous three years, according to a 2018 report by the Babson Survey Research Group.4

2. More Learning Styles Are Accommodated

Attending lectures in a physical classroom environment isn't conducive to all learning styles. This may have been discouraging to aspiring MBA students in the past, who balked at the prospect of returning to a school experience that produced stress and anxiety for them.

Online learning environments, however, allow for a more flexible and individualized approach to MBA coursework. This may appeal to millennials and younger students who have grown up immersed in digital environments, or it may be an asset to anyone who benefits from an educational experience that is absent the sights, sounds and pressures of the conventional classroom.

3. All Ages Are Applying

Going back to school in an environment where the majority of students are significantly younger than you can be intimidating. In an online degree program, older students and students of all ages can feel comfortably like they belong in their classes. Experience is valuable to online classroom discussions and coursework, and enrollment trends confirm growing interest in online MBA programs from a wide range of ages.

The average age of online MBA students is around 33 years, compared to 27 years for on-campus programs.5 This is due at least in part to the ways in which online programs accommodate the demands of adult life: Working professionals can keep their jobs and may get financial aid from their workplaces to earn an MBA online, and parents and caretakers can continue to meet their responsibilities while studying.

4. Work While You Learn

On-campus study for an MBA can make maintaining a career challenging. It can be maddening to juggle your class schedule and commute with a full-time work schedule, and you may often find yourself without much free time and under significant stress. And having to completely relocate may require quitting your job altogether. Online MBA programs can allow students to better balance part- or full-time work with their studies through their flexibly available course materials.

An average of 91 percent of online MBA students work full time while they study.5 Employers often welcome this, and may support their employees’ continued education financially as well.

5. Bring Experience to Class

Because online programs offer so much flexibility, they're an easier commitment to take on at key career moments than on-ground programs. Nearly 90 percent of online MBA students have previous work experience before beginning a program, with the average amount of experience being eight years.5 Many programs' admissions departments look at work experience as highly favorable and factor that into admittance.

Previous work experience can enhance online MBA study for your cohort peers as well, since it can be applied to lessons and in group work. Your experience can shape your approach to course materials, and in turn, the new knowledge you acquire through your MBA studies can potentially help you develop a new understanding of your current role and responsibilities.


Get a Flexible Online MBA at William & Mary

The Online MBA program at William & Mary offers students an innovative digital platform that fosters a flexible and effective learning environment. Discover more about this revolutionary program today.


1 Retrieved on April 4, 2018, from pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/internet-broadband/
2 Retrieved on April 4, 2018, from pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/12/evolution-of-technology/
3 Retrieved on April 4, 2018, from usnews.com/higher-education/online-education/slideshows/discover-10-current-trends-in-online-education?slide=3
4 Retrieved on April 4, 2018, from onlinelearningsurvey.com/highered.html
5 Retrieved on April 4, 2018, from usnews.com/higher-education/online-education/articles/2017-05-23/us-news-data-the-average-online-mba-student