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Part-Time Vs. Full-Time MBA Programs: An In-Depth Comparison


Part-Time Vs. Full-Time MBA Programs: An In-Depth Comparison

No two MBA students are alike. If you plan to join their ranks, you can be sure that your reasons for pursuing an MBA, your personal life, and your financial resources won’t be the same as anyone else’s. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right MBA program for you.

At Bentley, we’ve created three different MBA programs specifically to address those differences. Our options include one part-time program and two full-time programs, all of which are distinctive in their format, purpose, and student body. So if you’re currently exploring the merits of part-time versus full-time MBA programs, take a look at the descriptions below. One of them might be exactly what you’re looking for.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time MBA Options: Which Program Is Right For You?

The Emerging Leaders Program — A Full-Time MBA Program

Work experience required: 0 to 3 years.

Program identity: The Emerging Leaders Program is a full-time MBA program created for the purpose of giving students the foundational business knowledge they need to launch a successful career in an area of their choice. It also offers a strong network of support for students and the opportunity to learn from peers with different backgrounds and perspectives.

Who takes this program: Recent college graduates with little to no work experience. A variety of undergraduate degrees are represented — everything from liberal arts to business. Students can expect to get an overview of the connections between different business disciplines (accounting, finance, the supply chain, IT, etc.) as well as a more in-depth look at one business area of their choosing that fits with their career goals, such as accountancy, law and taxation, leadership, business analytics, information systems, or marketing.

Time to complete: Up to 2 years.  

When classes take place: Both day and evening hours. Students take four courses per semester, once a week, at 2.5 hours per session for 15 weeks.

Online options: Most courses are in person, in a classroom. However, some evening courses have an online “hybrid” option where students may, if necessary, join the class in real time via the Internet. In that case, students participate in the class just as they would if they were in the classroom, with access to all class materials and the ability to “raise their hand” electronically, as well as participate in group activities simultaneously with the class.

International study: All students are required to participate in one scheduled “global business experience” abroad. Faculty members design the experience with a particular academic aim in mind. Working in conjunction with a host university at the location, students combine cultural activities with business and learn more about local enterprises through seminars and class projects.

Career outcomes: Students coming out of the Emerging Leaders Program have built an impressive résumé based on the foundational knowledge and experiences they have acquired and are well-positioned to launch their career in whatever area they choose. They have the advantage of being able to hit the ground running, having more business knowledge and a broader understanding of how organizations work than non-MBA job candidates. For in-depth knowledge in a particular field, students can choose from eight concentrations to specialize their knowledge or elect to take advantage of the MS+MBA program.

Student experience: Most Emerging Leaders students live in the surrounding area off-campus but there is some on-campus graduate housing. They spend a considerable amount of time with one another both in class and during after-class activities, working collaboratively and sharing their perspectives and experiences.  

The Bentley MBA—A Full-Time MBA Program

Work experience required: 5+ years.

Program identity: This intensive MBA program consists of a single, small cohort that forms a diverse but tight-knit group of focused professionals. Collaboration, discussion, and debate are emphasized as is the sharing of professional experiences to help the group learn. Exploring your individual leadership style is a significant part of the program. Due to the program’s intensity, Bentley MBA students focus solely on their academic pursuits and are not able to work for the duration of the program.

Who takes this program: People who already have deep knowledge of their field — whether it’s marketing, finance, logistics, medicine, science, law, or something else — and want to see how that specific content knowledge fits into the bigger picture. Students in this program want to know how organizations work and are typically striving for advanced management positions or preparing to start their own company.

Time to complete: 11 months.

When classes take place: During daytime hours. Courses consist of eight to 10 sessions of about 4.5 hours each, which take place in “blocks” over the span of two weeks.

Online options: None. In-classroom participation is required.

International study: The Bentley MBA has three trips built into the program — one within the U.S. and two internationally. There is a prearranged academic focus, and students work with local companies on specific projects.

Student experience: Students in the Bentley MBA program typically live in nearby off-campus housing. Because of the structure of the program, students are together most of the day, four to five days a week (plus study time) and get to know one another very well. The resulting student experience is remarkable in that they learn as much from their classmates as they do from faculty.

The Professional MBA—A Part-Time MBA Program

Work experience required: 3+ years.

Program identity: This program is for working professionals, to be completed while they continue to work. It is part-time and flexible, designed to fit in with students’ personal and professional lives. Because they can continue to work while taking the courses, students experience minimal income dislocation and career disruption. They can also immediately apply the concepts and skills learned in class at their current job.

Who takes this program: Students in the Professional Program come from all industries and a variety of jobs (everything from nursing, to law, to science). No matter what their background, the common goal is to understand more about business principles and learn key skills, like decision-making, business strategy, and management. Some students hope to gain more relevant, up-to-date skills with the objective of changing professions; others want to broaden their skill set to compete for higher-level jobs within their current organizations.

Time to complete: Students have up to five years to complete the program, but most complete it in about two years. The time varies from student to student — some scale back on classes as needed, while others leave work periodically to take on additional coursework.

When classes take place: There are a variety of course formats, including evenings, week-long intensive courses, and blended formats, with the vast majority, offered online.

Online options: Most classes in the Professional Program are offered in an online  “hybrid” format. Students can either attend the class in person or participate in real-time via the internet. In that case, students participate in the class just as they would if they were in the room, with access to all class materials and the ability to fully participate in group activities simultaneously with the class.

International study: The part-time program offers students the option to take a three-credit study abroad course. Called a “global business experience,” students choose a travel destination from the offerings available that semester. Trips last anywhere from seven days to two weeks and include visits with local business leaders, cultural tours, and alumni gatherings.

Student experience: Thanks to the flexibility of the online hybrid learning environment, students come from a variety of geographies. The opportunity to learn from other working professionals in the classroom enhances the experience and provides students with a broader business perspective.

Choosing the program that’s right for you — whether it’s a full-time or part-time MBA program — is an important decision. If you have additional questions about any of the MBA programs here at Bentley, please contact us to speak with a member of our admissions team, or visit our website for detailed information about our curricula, study abroad experiences, and state-of-the-art resources.


by Meredith Mason  September 12, 2017

U.S. News & World Report ranked Bentley No. 2 among regional universities in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, up from No. 3 last year, highlighting Bentley’s high-quality faculty and academic programs along with the strong value that students receive from a Bentley education.