埃文说，网络MBA教学的内容通常与大学校园里的MBA课程毫无二致，可以满足人们真正的需要。“许多高管的行程排得很满，有些人甚至一周五天都在四处奔波，”她说，传统的课堂学习对他们而言很不现实。“所以大学也就有了相应的对策，像杜克大学（Duke）、约翰•霍普金斯大学（Johns Hopkins）、麻省理工学院（MIT）和北卡罗莱纳大学的肯那福莱格尔商学院（University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School）等著名学府，都开始为这些忙碌的专业人士提供网络课程。”
1、看看学校是否获得了认证。埃文说：“要衡量一所大学的远程教育学位的价值，最重要的评判因素是看这个项目是否获得了认证。”真正的研究生商学院都应该经过国际精英商学院协会（AACSB）的认证。该协会将全球所有通过认证的机构都列在了网站上。埃文还推荐经过欧洲质量发展认证体系（EQUIS）和英国工商管理硕士协会（Association of MBAs）认证的商学院，尤其是那些不在美国本土的学院。
Dear Annie: I was intrigued by your column about online degree programs, because lately I've been interviewing candidates for a department head position at my company. The people who have held this job before have been MBAs, as are the most promising people I'm considering right now, but there's a catch. Two of them, both highly qualified in terms of experience, got their graduate business degrees online -- one from a school I've never heard of (which I realize doesn't necessarily mean anything, since I'm hardly an expert on the subject). Can you tell me how to evaluate an online MBA degree? — Stumped in SoHo
Dear Stumped: You aren't the only one wondering. Headhunters and hiring managers hold wildly differing views on the merits of online MBAs, according to Tavia Ewen, a recruiter in the Houston office of the Alexander Group, which specializes in C-suite executive and board member searches. Ewen has heard some variation of your question from so many clients that she has come up with a list of four guidelines for evaluating an online MBA.
Long-distance programs are usually made up of exactly the same course content as campus-based MBAs, Ewen notes, and they answer a real need. "So many executives now maintain rigorous travel schedules, with some on the road up to five days a week" that traditional classroom learning just isn't practical, she says. "So universities have responded accordingly, with prestigious institutions like Duke, Johns Hopkins, MIT, and the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School offering their programs online for on-the-go professionals."
As you point out, however, many lesser-known schools have followed suit. Here's how to evaluate a long-distance MBA with an unfamiliar name.
1. Find out if the university is accredited."This is the single most important component of assessing the value of a distance learning degree," says Ewen. Bona fide graduate business schools should be accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which lists every institution it accredits worldwide on its website. Ewen also recommends the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) and the Association of MBAs, particularly when the program in question is outside the U.S.
2. Take a look at the program's entry requirements."Entry requirements for distance learning MBA programs run the gamut from minimal to highly demanding, but they've generally become more stringent over time," Ewen says. "That's particularly true for schools that have strong reputations to maintain."
A good online MBA program will hold its virtual applicants to the same standards as its in-person students, including a minimum undergraduate grade point average, a threshold for GRE or GMAT scores, letters of recommendation, and specific professional experience. Check out the program's website to see how high its admissions committee has set the bar.
3. Find out whether the program offers an on-campus classroom component.Aiming to combat skepticism about the value of distance learning, many universities now include "condensed, intensive campus sessions for distance learning students," Ewen says. "These programs are often referred to as 'hybrid' or 'blended.'"
The in-person classes usually last from three to five days and allow students to make networking connections that can be valuable later in their careers. "A candidate's description of his or her on-campus experience, and the value it added, should give you some insight into the rigor of the overall program," Ewen says.
4. Ask the candidate how he or she chose the program."Graduate school is a serious investment of money and time, and candidates should be able to articulate their reasoning behind selecting a particular school," Ewen says. "'Convenience' is not an adequate answer."