Apr 3, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

As the need for flexibility in the global business landscape increases so does the need for flexible training. That's where online MBAs come in. 

According to the Financial Times, the number of business schools offering an online MBA between 2012-13 and 2016-17 saw 54 percent growth. AACSB International collected the data from 459 business schools worldwide.

The Financial Times reports that Ramesh Venkataraman, chair of the Kelley Direct Online MBA at Indiana University said, “Ten years ago, there were questions around online MBA degrees, such as whether they lacked interaction. But more top-ranked schools have entered the market since then, making the programmes more legitimate and driving applications up.”

Overall, applications are up globally. The GMAT said that online MBA programs saw an increase in applications from 39 percent growth five years ago to 50 percent globally in 2017.

Why? More immersive technology facilitates better student experiences--and more students are likely to pursue the option. 

Oxford's Saïd Business School saw over 200 students taking MBA courses using Hive, a physical and virtual conference room where people can chime in from wherever they have internet access. 

While the program's director acknowledges that online programs don't capture every aspect of business school--like networking--they do allow students to interact, complete their coursework, and earn a degree. 

Another benefit of working online? Students experience real-world data collection. 

The Financial Times highlighted Dan LeClair, chief strategy and innovation officer at AACSB International who said, “Another advantage is that students become familiar with measuring their performance with data, as schools track online participation to provide feedback, which is similar to what managers do in the workplace.” 

While more students enthusiastically opt for the online MBA, some business schools have some concerns amidst their support. 

Philip Kim, faculty director of the Blended Learning MBA at Babson College in Massachusetts cautions, "Even with a flexible study format, online MBA students must manage their time well between work, family, personal responsibilities, and coursework.” 

Learn more about earning an online MBA.

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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