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I’ve worked with 100s of MBA applicants over the years and I often heard them telling me that a Part-Time MBA (PTMBA) is a discounted degree. Why does the Full-Time MBA (FTMBA) receive all the praise while PTMBAs are met with a rather embarrassed silence, even though the degree received by graduates is (often) the same?

Over the last decade, I’ve been fortunate to work with dozens of PTMBA applicants and have closely kept an eye on their career evolution. I can honestly say that PTMBAs have nothing to envy compared to their full-time counterparts. Let me save everyone the trouble and explain exactly why people should pursue a PTMBA.

Reason #1. The PTMBA student-body is full of high caliber individuals!

Kim Clark, the former dean of the Harvard Business School, once said that “students do not turn down a seat at HBS to go to another business school; they do so because they have great opportunities at work”.

PTMBA students usually come with over seven years of work experience and have already achieved a mid- to senior-level position (earning often well over the average that new MBA grads make in the industry). They are successful young professionals who are on a great career trajectory, and I often heard my ex-applicants telling me how overwhelming the experience was when they first started their MBA, as the caliber of students and academic rigor were stronger than they expected.

Reason #2. The PTMBA is a fantastic career accelerator!

If you have no interest in switching career paths, the PTMBA option is perhaps the best one for you.

Students tell us they find it beneficial to apply what they learn and test classroom theories on-the-job without delay.

However, if you are interested in changing your career path, please note that business schools’ career centers focus mainly on full-time students. On-campus recruiters usually only interview full-time students, and gear their presentations towards them.

In short, at most schools, part-time students receive less career support.

Reason #3. It reduces your financial burden (by a lot)!

Full-Time MBA programs in the US easily crash through the US$200,000 total cost barrier, without taking into account opportunity costs (i.e. the loss from sacrificing a well-paying job for one or two years).

In that respect, you could think of US$340,000 as the real cost of an elite MBA degree. Not surprisingly, many full-time MBA students end up borrowing substantial sums to pay for their degrees. In a survey of more than 10,000 class of 2018 graduates from top business schools, Bloomberg Businessweek found that nearly 50% borrowed at least $100,000 for their MBA.

On the other hand, Part-Time MBA programs offer a very attractive alternative. You continue to work while going to school (which significantly impacts your financial exposure). In 4 out of 5 schools, Part-Time MBAs incurred less debt than their Full-Time peers. To give an example, the difference came to more than $43,000 at Ross ($59,014 vs. $102,605).

Reason #4. It is highly flexible and customizable.

PTMBAs tend to be local courses, taught in the evenings or over the weekend. If you are seeking a less disruptive option (especially if you have family commitments), the PTMBA checks all the boxes. A less rigid and time-consuming class schedule than a full-time one might mean that you can invest more of your time in other aspects of your life, like family obligations.

The best part? You complete a similar curriculum to your full-time counterparts in a flexible manner (most PTMBA programs allow their students to complete their degree within 5 or 6 years).

Reason #5. It offers the best of both worlds!

ROI is high! After 10 years, the ROI for PTMBA reached 1,621% (in comparison to 445% for FT 2-year MBA and 655% for FT 1-year MBA). Similarly the Median Cumulative Base Salary (USD – not adjusted to inflation) reaches $1m+ after 10 years for PTMBA graduates (in comparison to $999k for FT 2-year MBA graduates).

Three cheers for the Part-Time MBA that we prefer to call the MBA-HF (MBA for high-flyers)!

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