Full-Time vs. Part-Time

Let's face it: any quality MBA program—part-time or full-time—will demand a significant amount of your time and energy. Finding one that fits comfortably into your life and schedule will be challenging at best. Deciding on going full- or part-time will be based mainly on your own personal situation; however' each offers specific pros and cons.

The Full-Time Option

The most cited advantage of attending business school full-time is that students can devote as much time as possible to this extraordinary amount of coursework without being stretched too thin by other competing demands.

Immersion and Networking

A full-time program means that you and your classmates are fully immersed in coursework' group projects' and out of class activities' so you get to know them extremely well. Networking among classmates is one of the greatest benefits attending full-time. B-schools generally admit students with significant prior work experience. Consequently' your fellow students often become invaluable contacts who can help you throughout your entire career.

Internships & Job Opportunities

Full-time programs also provide an opportunity to gain significant professional experience through summer placements or internships. Through these important programs' participants can try out an interest in a particular field and determine if it's right for them. At most schools' placement services generally focus on helping full-time students conduct their job searches for the often dramatic leaps in job responsibilities and salaries and the unique disruptions that go along with it.

Juggling School & The Rest of Your Life

The intensity of being a full-time student can exact a price. This is especially true for those who have been working for a while and recently returned to school. In addition' there are competing demands for time for those with families. Finally' attending business school often entails relocating to a new area and the unique disruptions that go along with it.

Cost

Paying for two years of full-time school is often the biggest disadvantage of being a full-time student. While financial aid is available for b-school—usually in the form of loans' although some programs offer grants and scholarships based on GMAT scores and other factors—you should plan on accumulating significant debt as a full-time student.

The Part-Time Option

Attending business school part-time is often not a matter of choice' but one of necessity. However' a part-time program can drag on for a number of years' during which your commitment to an MBA will be tested by professional and personal obligations' as well as by simple fatigue.

Flexibility

This is the main advantage of the part-time route. Part-time students generally decide whether they want to enroll for any given term. This can help relieve some of the pressure from competing professional or personal demands. Many vary their course load in order to concentrate exclusively on a particularly difficult course and then take a heavier load later with less intensive courses.

Networking

Because of the flexible nature of part-time programs' enrollment patterns of students tend to vary greatly. This makes it comparatively difficult to develop the same kind of relationships with peers—or to do the same kind of networking—that full-time students enjoy.

Executive MBA Programs

Executive MBA Programs are especially attractive to those who have significant work experience and plan to continue with their present employers after graduation. Most of these programs offer classes on weeknights or on Fridays and Saturdays. They are often completed in two years. However' Executive MBA Programs are usually open only to the most senior managers who are supported by their employers.

Cost

Most schools have little 'if any' financial aid for part-time students. However many companies reimburse some or all of the cost of tuition for continuing education. Because of this and the fact that most are working during their education part-time students often do not incur the massive debt associated with full-time students.