Not every university has both a full time MBA program and a part time MBA program. In fact, it could be argued that the business schools which have focused mainly on their flagship, two year, full time MBA offering and choose not to offer a part time option, have been able to grow and maintain their status in the upper tier of b-school rankings.
Even a cursory glance at the highest ranked schools lends credence to this theory, as there is indeed no part time program at Harvard, Stanford, or Wharton. But what about schools such as Chicago Booth, Berkeley Haas, NYU Stern, Kellogg and Ross, all of which have both highly ranked full time programs as well as very well respected and successful part time programs? Clearly there is a way to have both.
One of the main challenges at the schools with both part time and full time programs, however, has nothing to do with rankings, but rather with job placement.
Getting your MBA is mostly about landing that dream job at the end, and the last thing a graduating MBA needs to worry about is whether or not they will be able to land one. But this can sometimes be exactly the challenge at schools with large part time programs. In fact, since these schools often have a far larger part time program than their full time program, there is sometimes a glut of graduating MBAs at these schools who are competing against each other for jobs from both tracks.
Imagine giving up your job for two years and investing a substantial sum of money for an MBA, then standing in line behind four or five part time MBA grads at the interview table---grads who drew a salary for the past three years while you watched the opportunity costs pile up on your credit card. This has created resentment at some schools between the full time and part time students. What to do? Both parties want and need jobs, and the schools’ career services centers must make both happy.
Sometimes, schools have a separate career counselor for the part time program and disallow the part time students from participating in the full time interview schedule.
For schools with the facilities and resources to pull this off, it can work, but it is far more common for schools to share the career services with both programs. Sometimes, in fact, it is the recruiting companies themselves who desire to see candidates from both programs.
When it comes time to make job offers, in recent years, there has been a trend with recruiters to actually favor the part time students in the interview process over the full time students.
After all, the part timers not only slogged through the same curriculum, they did it while juggling full time job responsibilities, right? Employers have figured out that part time MBA students must be extremely hard working and highly organized professionals to pull this off. They also now have three years’ more work experience than the full time students who started their MBAs with the same number of years in the professional world. While the full time MBA students may have similar traits, they have not had to demonstrate the same time management skills as their part time counterparts by balancing school and work simultaneously.
If you are considering applying to a school with both part time and full time programs, make sure you speak with their career services center first, so at least you will have an understanding of how they support both kinds of students. You don’t want to be unpleasantly surprised on the backend when it comes time to interview.