Keys to achieving balance with your MBA program, your career and your personal responsibilities

  • June 16, 2023
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 4 minute read

When studying for an MBA, students know they’re signing up to work hard. They probably expect their MBA course load to demand a lot of their time and take a lot of dedication and motivation.

While these statements are largely true, MBA program leaders are becoming increasingly aware of their students’ needs outside the classroom. We recognize that in times of change, the way people need to engage with their education is a little different. Students need help to achieve a balance between their full-time employment and responsibilities, their family life and their time dedicated to the MBA program, not to mention their health and well-being.

How can an MBA student achieve a work-life balance?

Students and their mentors can prepare the ground for their MBA work-life balance in several ways. Here are some key questions students can ask to make sure they’re choosing options that make sense for them:

1. Which program would work best for your priorities and goals?

Different programs offer different schedules and varying levels of flexibility. Consider what you need from your course load and weekly routine. Is your life likely to change drastically in the next year or so? A part-time MBA could be the right choice. In Olin’s PMBA, for example, students can easily decrease their course load by speaking with academic advisors.

2. What kind of interaction are you looking for?

Different programs will offer different forms of community and classroom interaction. If you’re someone who needs a high number of contact hours and an in-person cohort, the Executive MBA might be the right choice. If you already have an active community outside of education and want to focus on your education in a slightly more solitary environment, the online program might be a perfect fit.

3. Are location and travel a priority for you?

Students should consider where they need to be located for the duration of their MBA experience. In a part-time MBA program, they may be able to apply for remote status if they need to travel for life or work reasons. In an online MBA, the course interface can travel with you.

4. Do you have a schedule to check in with your work-life balance?

There are tactics that MBA students can use once they’re enrolled in a program to ensure that they’re staying in touch with their work-life balance. They could do that by actively working on their time management — invest in some upfront planning and identify hours needed for projects, papers, and studying. They could meet with advisors and peers during lunch hours so that they’re developing relationships and networking, while saving time for off-the-clock socializing later. The MBA program itself can also help nurture students’ lives outside of learning.

How does the Olin MBA look after students’ life balance?

At Olin, we know how important it is for students to find a balance between the different parts of their lives.

The first thing we do to protect students’ work-life balance is to make our programs highly flexible. Students pursuing their MBA can choose between three options — the Online MBA, the Professional or Part-Time MBA, and the Executive MBA. Each program provides a flexible option for professional students based on their availability and other responsibilities.

In the Online MBA, students have the flexibility of an entirely online format. They work with an assigned cohort, taking a set of required courses and credits over the course of eight semesters. Six of those semesters require seven credit hours, and two of those semesters require six credit hours. So there is additional flexibility baked into the program’s structure.

For the Professional or Part-Time MBA, students have the option to choose remote status during periods of time when work or family life needs more of their attention. They can also follow a timeline that makes sense to them. While they’re required to complete 54 credit hours in total, the pace of those credit hours is up to the student.

The Executive MBA is a 24-month program, kicking off with a week-long orientation where students can meet their peers and try their first few classes together. They then progress through the MBA course load by incorporating three days a month of classroom time into their schedule, leaving plenty of room for other commitments and changes.

All of Olin’s MBA programs are designed with flexibility in mind. Finding an MBA work-life balance is vital—without it, students simply cannot access the benefits of their learning. Flexible online MBA programs allow people to study, live, connect with others, fulfill their responsibilities, and take part in their communities. This all makes for better future business leaders.

Whether it’s teaching time management for MBA students or developing more options for how to arrange your MBA course load, Olin has your back—not just at school but at home and everywhere in between. Business leaders aren’t just made in the classroom.

About the Author

Washington University in Saint Louis

WashU Olin Business School

Firmly established at the Gateway to the West, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis stands as the gateway to something far grander in scale. The education we deliver prepares our students to thoughtfully make difficult decisions—the kind that can change the world.

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