College Student

Which MBA program is right for you: Part-time, Full Time, Executive?

DirectionCongrats on deciding to get an MBA! Now the question is which MBA is right for you? This may be an easy question for some, while others have many factors to consider. The major differences between these types of programs are access to Career Management Center & recruiters, type of jobs available after completing school, and work/life/school balance. As someone with more experience than the average MBA student, I wasn’t sure which program was best for me. I choose full time over an executive program because I received a fellowship at a more highly ranked school with a better national reputation. That’s what was best for me, but now let’s talk about what’s best for you.

Part time – Typically for applicants with 3-7 years experience


  • Continue working and advancing your career while in school
  • Chance to meet other working professionals in a variety of industries
  • No relocation necessary


  • You’ll have to be very organized to balance school and work at the same time
  • Limited access to extra-curricular clubs and career management center assistance at most schools
  • Limited scholarships available

Think twice if you struggle with time management and handling multiple priorities.

Full Time – Typically for applicants with 2-7 years experience


  • Focus 100% of your energy on school
  • Access to on campus recruiters
  • Easily able to participate in extra-curricular clubs
  • More access to scholarships and fellowships
  • Full attention from the school’s career management center


  • No income while you’re in school
  • May have to relocate to another part of the country
  • Temporary career interruption

Think twice if you have a lot of work experience. Most of the jobs are for students with 3-5 years experience. You may be frustrated with the job opportunities, which are likely to be at a lower level than your experience justifies.

Executive MBA – Typically for applicants with 8+ years experience


  • Develop strong relationships with other senior executives
  • Curriculum aimed at senior leaders
  • Program designed to be flexible to work with your busy schedule


  • Limited scholarships available
  • Usually involves some weekend classes
  • Access to the career management center  may vary

Think twice if… you’re not company sponsored. These programs can be quite expensive and many other students will be sponsored by their companies. If possible start saving money now to offset your future tuition expenses.

Overall, take time to evaluate what’s more important to you and speak with students in the type of program that you’re interested in. Everyone has different priorities so carefully consider what matters most to you and in doing so, I’m confident that you’ll find the best program for you.

Athena Smith
Forté Fellow and MBA Candidate 2014
University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler Business School)
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