Lynne Hoey, IE Business School Global MBA + The part-time myth

Nine months down, seven months to go! I just completed the ‘core’ period of my MBA programme and will start my corporate finance module in January in London.

It has been a rollercoaster of an experience so far. Some days were fantastic, such as when my group nails a presentation. Other days have been less so, like the time I discovered that my paper was due a week earlier than I thought. One thing is for certain though, the Global MBA (‘GMBA’) at IE may be advertised as a part-time course, but it contains a full-time work load. I know many of you will be contemplating pursuing an MBA full-time or part-time so I hope this blog post helps in your decision.

I chose the GMBA for the flexibility and because I wasn’t in a position to leave full-time employment. This was the right decision for me but I didn’t fully appreciate the level of the work. Had I pursued a full-time MBA at IE, such as the International MBA, the course would have been 13 months. The GMBA is a 16-month course, so it isn’t really that much longer than full-time. If you are considering a part-time course, look at the difference in time between completing a full-time MBA or part-time MBA. If one of your key criteria for pursuing part-time is to have a good work/school life balance, a longer part-time programme is probably better.

I thought that the workload would be lighter going part-time and it is clear now that I was mistaken. The course is all-consuming; it takes over my spare time as I still have to get through the same volume of work as if I was a full-time student. Finding the balance between work, school and life is very difficult. If you are committing to a part-time programme, be prepared to treat it like a full-time programme.

Finally, set realistic expectations. You can’t be the top student, the top employee, and the best husband/wife/friend/parent at the same time. Recently, one of my professors gave me great advice. He said that your MBA performance comes down to the amount of time that you can commit to it and the brightest minds may only get above average grades. If you want to be a top student in a part-time programme, then you have to study like you are in school full-time.

Remember that a part-time MBA programme only means that you aren’t going to class full-time. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the workload will be much lighter or that you can switch off from school when you aren’t in class. Take advantage of speaking to part-time students and get their perspective as you make your decision.