First, the term correspondence MBA can be used to describe a type of distance learning program in which assignments and course material are distributed through mail. Before the Internet, most distance learning programs could be described as correspondence courses. Students received their books and other course material by mail. They then completed their work at home and submitted completed projects by mail. In general, there was little interaction between the student and the professor, and the resources available to the student as far as support went were somewhat limited. Many traditional correspondence courses also had a negative reputation for granting degrees to virtually anybody. Today, there are very few correspondence MBA programs remaining, as most have been replaced by online programs that allow the student to submit and receive assignments, and communicate with instructors and other students through electronic means.
In India, a correspondence MBA is what most people in North America would classify as a distance learning MBA. Deciding to obtain an MBA through correspondence in India brings with it the same challenges faced by those who choose to obtain an MBA through distance learning in North America. Lax admission standards, schools that are not accredited, and the overall opinion among many employers that a correspondence MBA does not have the same value as a full-time MBA are all obstacles that potential correspondence MBA students must overcome.
Are you accredited? This is perhaps the single most important question that those considering an online MBA should ask. AACSB accreditation is the most difficult to obtain, so if your potential school has this type of accreditation, it is a sign you are likely dealing with a reputable institution.
What type of student support do you offer? Look for schools that give students good access to course instructors. If you run into difficulties, you will want to know that you can phone or e-mail an instructor and receive a prompt response.
Do you offer the opportunity to specialize? Most programs offered by full-time institutions consist of a year of general business study and another year that allows students to pursue courses in a specialized area, such as finance or marketing. Just because a school does not offer the opportunity to specialize does not necessarily mean it is not reputable, but if this is an important feature for you, it is essential to get this information before you apply.
Do you have employment statistics available? Information about graduates, such as how quickly they found work and what types of salaries they were offered, are good indications as to how highly the degree is valued by business employers. Good schools should be able to give you this information.
What are your admissions criteria? You can probably find this out by looking at the school's Web site. A good distance learning program will have admissions criteria that are quite similar to that of full-time institutions.
What is the cost of obtaining this degree? Costs for distance learning programs can vary widely, so it is best to try to strike a balance between price and program quality. Watch out for hidden costs as well, like books that must be purchased or costs associated with mailing course assignments and other materials.
By asking these simple questions, you should be able to better judge the quality of the distance learning program you are considering. Choosing a school is quite difficult for distance learners because the quality of the programs can vary so greatly. Taking the time to find out enough information to make an informed decision, however, is an important and worthwhile step of the pre-application process.
Red flag #1-No educational prerequisites: Many distance learning MBA programs promise interested potential students that they can obtain a quality MBA, even without a university degree. While it would be great if this were true, quality institutions simply do not grant MBAs to those without an undergraduate degree. Stating that "life experience" can be used as a substitute for a university degree is a definite red flag.
Red flag #2-Programs are extremely short: There are some bogus companies out there that promise those interested in obtaining an MBA that they can complete all the requirements for the degree in just a few weeks. This is completely untrue. A full-time MBA takes two years of study to complete. Therefore, for a distance learning MBA degree to be of equal caliber, a similar amount of coursework should be completed. If you can get your master's by completing only a few courses, it is a sure sign that you will be receiving what most employers will view as a useless piece of paper.
Red flag #3-Lax admission criteria: Getting into a top-rated B-school is an unbelievably difficult process. Applicants are required to write the GMAT, participate in interviews, write essays, and complete application forms. In addition, most students who apply to these schools never actually get in. Look at the criteria for admissions for the distance learning program you are considering. Is it similar to full-time institutions, or does it appear that pretty much anyone who applies stands a good chance of being accepted? Some scammers do not request any information from candidates, and anyone that has a credit card will be granted an MBA. Obviously, this is a good sign you are dealing with a diploma mill.
In general, people seeking an MBA should not use a distance learning program simply because it offers little effort and a short amount of time. You can get a piece of paper from a scam artist, but to truly obtain a degree that will mean something to employers, you must be prepared to devote as much study and effort as those who are studying at full-time institutions.
Last Updated: 05/13/2013