Should Product Managers Consider Getting A Hybrid MBA?

by drjim on November 29, 2010

Maybe You Don't Have To Go Back To School To Get An MBA

Maybe You Don’t Have To Go Back To School To Get An MBA

Product Managers have long struggled with the idea of getting an MBA. Sure, it seems like a good idea, but who has the time or the energy to haul yourself off to some college campus several times a week to attend classes. There are those “online” universities that let you get an MBA online, but they still seem just a big shady. Isn’t there another way to get the results that you want?

Say Hello To The Hybrid MBA

Business schools have heard the cries of product managers (and others) and they have responded by creating a new product for them: the hybrid MBA. This type of MBA involves limited time on campus and a lot of time online.

The target market for this type of MBA are students who want to get an degree, but who simply either don’t have the time or the ability to make it to campus several times a week. Schools like to offer these programs because they are generally less costly for the school because the students in the program are on campus less often.

It’s important to note that these hybrid MBA programs generally end upcosting the student roughly the sameas they would pay to attend a traditional full-time MBA program on campus. However, the good news is that the courses will be taught by the same professors who teach the full-time program.

One of the main ways that students learn in a traditional MBA program is byworking in teams on projects. The hybrid programs use the same concept, the only difference is that the students interact via either conference calls or by using Skype.

Similar Yet Different

Let’s be frank here, a hybrid MBA program isnot the sameas an on-campus MBA program. There are some key differences that any product manager needs to be aware of before starting one of these programs.

One of the nice differences between hybrid and in-person programs is that it’s often easier to get intothe hybrid program – entrance requirements are lower. Some don’t even require that you take the traditional gatekeeper exam: the GMAT.

You won’t get a chance to become as well-rounded as you might like. Since not all MBA classes will be part of the hybrid program, some of theelective coursesthat you might have taken to broaden your skills won’t be available to you.

Some of the most important parts of any MBA program arethe access to professorsthat it gives you along with the ability to make use of on-campus resources (think “career services”). Simple because you’re not going to be there as much as full-time students, you won’t be able to tap into these two resources as much as you might like to.

Another key part of any MBA program isthe networkthat you build with your fellow students. Once again, this can be hard to do in a hybrid MBA program since you won’t be working with them shoulder to shoulder.

Who Do These Hybrid MBA Programs Work Best For?

So all of that brings up a good point: what type of student does a hybrid MBA programwork best for? People involved with the programs say that they work well for internationally based professionals who can’t take two years off of their careers to spend on campus.

Additionally, if you are working for a company and you’d really like to position yourself fora future international assignment, a hybrid MBA might be your ticket to doing so. You’ll be able to keep working while you get the degree that will open doors to future assignments at the same time.

What All Of This Means For You

Whether or not to spend the time and money to get an MBA isa personal decisionthat every product manager has to wrestle with at some point in time. One of the biggest obstacles to getting this type of degree is the time and effort that going to campus for classes may pose.

The arrival of the hybrid MBA may solve this problem for some product managers.Trips to campus are minimized. However, it may not be the best way for product managers who have a technical background to pick up the team skills and soft skills that they’ll need in their future career.

If you do decide to get an MBA, you now haveone more optionfor how you actually go about getting it. You’ll have to make the decision as to how important it is to learn in a classroom or learn online. More knowledge is always good for you, no matter how you get it!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: How do you think firms that hire product managers will treat a hybrid MBA – is it the same as an on campus MBA?

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Carrie Requist November 29, 2010 at 6:24 pm

I am currently getting my MBA through Penn State World Campus, which is PSU’s online program. While it is a set curriculum, the program is definitely difficult and a worthy MBA program. Good GMAT scores as well as essay, transcript and references were required for admission (I had a 710 GMAT) and I am working 20-35 hours a week on the program in addition to the rest of my life. But the convenience and flexibility of the online MBA is what makes it possible. Makes so much sense.

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Dr. Jim Anderson December 1, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Carrie: congrats on making the commitment to go for an MBA even while you are working full time! The new types of MBA programs finally make getting an MBA possible for more managers…

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Alma Guevara December 13, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Hello, I am from Mexico and I am interested in joining a hybrid MBA program from an US college. I understand that most of the classes are going to be online but, do I need to aquire a student visa (F1 I believe) in order to attend to those on-campus classes? Thanks for the information.

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Dr. Jim Anderson December 17, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Alma: good question — I don’t have a complete answer to it. The student visa is generally used for students who will be living in the United States. If you are participating in a hybrid MBA program, then you won’t be living here (necessarily), you could get away with just visiting. If this is what you plan to do, you may not require a visa. Check with the school who’s program you want to enroll in, I’m sure that they’ll have the answer that you need!

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Carrie Requist December 17, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Alma – You should contact the universitys whose programs you are interested in. I know that Penn State has many international students and they would know what you need. You can contact the iMBA program at Penn State on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/PennStateiMBA

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Jake July 16, 2011 at 8:11 am

wow, this article might actually be of value if some “hybrid” MBAs were mentioned…you know if, say, I wanted to learn more about some programs.

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Dr. Jim Anderson July 22, 2011 at 10:29 am

Jake: sorry about that — it turns out that there just aren’t a lot of these programs around. If you are interested, here are 3 that you could look into: Duke University’s Cross Continent M.B.A,
Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, and Babson College of Massachusetts’ MBA. Good luck!

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DeShaunda December 14, 2012 at 12:45 am

I am a Product Manager and opted to enroll in a hybrid MBA to improve my quantitative skills. I am currently a student in Babson’s San Francisco Fast Track MBA program.

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Dr. Jim Anderson December 14, 2012 at 3:19 pm

DeShaunda: That’s fantastic news! Remember that the two most important things that you’ll get out of the program is an expanded vocabulary and great contacts. Meet as many people as you can!

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