Which course delivery option is right for you?

first half of photo is a student walking towards the one south main building, then the photo is divided and the other half features a student working at their laptop.

Queen Agboye is a first-year MBA student at UD’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics. As a graduate intern for the Lerner College Communications Office, Agboye will be writing about her firsthand experiences with the Lerner College MBA Program.  

A question that many professionals ask when deciding whether to pursue a graduate degree is, “What type of course delivery option is right for me?”

Choosing the best course delivery method really depends on your specific learning style. Each university and program will offer different delivery options, and the University of Delaware’s Lerner College strives to provide options for every type of student.

The Lerner College offers courses through traditional classroom, online and hybrid delivery methods. As an MBA student, I have had the privilege of taking all three course delivery formats available, and am excited to share what I’ve learned from those experiences.

Course delivery options

First, let’s define the different course delivery options available:

  • Traditional: “Face-to-face” classes where instructors and students meet in the classroom or another in-person setting.
  • Online: This option is primarily or entirely online, with 80 to 100 percent of total course time spent online.
  • Hybrid (or blended): The hybrid approach combines face-to-face classroom instruction with online learning.

Thirty years ago, the only options for graduate school delivery were to become a full-time or part-time face-to-face student. Today, technology has made the experience of choosing how you want to take your coursework much more convenient. Most of my peers in the Lerner College MBA program seek a blend of classroom instruction and online learning.

However, it can be difficult for those considering an MBA to distinguish between these delivery options just by looking at their definitions. Below, my fellow Lerner MBA students and I offer our personal experiences with each type of learning, in the hopes that our experiences can help you decide which option is right for you.

Traditional learning

Traditional classroom learning is my personal preference for pursuing an MBA, partially because of my extroverted personality. I really value the face-to-face interactions and the networking opportunities that come from being in-person.

I had been working for several years before starting the MBA program. Going back to this familiar style of learning that I had experienced in my undergraduate program helped to ease my transition from professional to student. A traditional delivery option might be the right choice for you if, like me, you prefer learning in an environment that provides maximum in-person instructor to student interaction.

Some of the benefits of the traditional delivery method are:

  • The opportunity to observe a case method in action and connect with students, faculty and key program staff in person.
  • The near instantaneous feedback I get from my peers and instructors helps me sharpen my speaking and argument skills, while forming lasting interpersonal relationships by networking with other professional students in class.
  • Taking trips to businesses or meeting industry professionals from nearby cities has been a huge benefit of this style of delivery. UD’s unique location allows students to easily access resources in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia.

A key part of my MBA experience has been learning from my peers, almost as much as from my instructors. I benefit from the real-time questions other students ask during lectures and the conversations that come from our work in group projects. There is a collaborative element to this type of learning where I get to share insights from my previous professional experiences and hear from others in a way that really informs my understanding of the coursework.

Online learning

The online MBA program is designed for students with busy schedules and multiple responsibilities who are unable to travel to campus for their coursework. At Lerner College, the online MBA allows students to fit coursework into their schedule and learn at their own pace with recorded lectures, designed readings and assignments. Students can ask questions during weekly live office hours facilitated through teleconferencing system, Zoom.

“People are always concerned that the online program is not going to be as rigorous as the on-campus program or provide the same benefits, but that’s not true,” said Jack Baroudi, senior associate dean of graduate programs at the Lerner College. “It is the same curriculum, the same faculty, with the same learning outcomes and the same benefits for both the on-campus and online programs.”

Some benefits of the online delivery option are:

  • The UD online MBA allows students to do coursework at their own pace. This flexibility allows students to balance school, work and other obligations.
  • The opportunity to work from home allows for students to save the time and costs associated with transportation to campus.
  • Students have time for reflection as they can re-watch recorded lectures, repeat exercises, reread peer discussion comments and take as much time as needed to master concepts.

Student Kevin Triglia said that he decided to pursue his MBA online because, “Although I work in Delaware, I rarely went to campus. I often had business trips to China, India, Europe, Singapore, etc. I was able to watch my lectures and complete my work as normal.” The flexibility of the online delivery method allowed Triglia to complete his coursework at his own pace, and from anywhere in the world.  

Hybrid Learning

The hybrid approach to course delivery at the Lerner College combines the best attributes of both traditional and online formats. This is a delivery option that is both flexible and accessible, while providing an interpersonal experience with instructors and a physical connection to campus.

My classmate, Noah Olsen, had been working professionally for five years when he began working towards an MBA degree. “I wanted to learn more about business and specifically about finance,” Olsen explained. “But because I still wanted to keep my job and life going, I decided to look for an MBA program that would give me the option to do it both online and in-person.”

Some of the benefits of the hybrid delivery option are:

  • The ability to mix and match traditional and online courses to fit your work and life schedules, and to complete your degree within 18 months.
  • Hybrid courses often result in more enriching learning outcomes, not necessarily due to the format itself, but because most students spend extra time reviewing course material.
  • The hybrid learning option can combine the best qualities of online and face-to-face formats.  

Although Olsen prefers learning in the traditional classroom setting, he said that he has enjoyed the flexibility that comes from the hybrid program. He explained that, “The opportunity of being able to mix both online and in-person classes has made it really easy for me to progress smoothly through the program.”

Choosing a delivery option

I hope that this article has helped you to have a better understanding of the different course delivery options available for an MBA degree. At UD’s Lerner College, you can find the program and classes that fit your lifestyle, learning style and individual needs; whether those classes be in a traditional in-class format or online, or a combination of both.

I encourage you to think of your particular needs, and then choose the path that will help you reach your career goals. You can read more about the MBA program offerings on the Lerner College website and then apply to the program, and choose the course offerings, that are right for you.

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