Working and Studying Full-Time

Getting a master’s in Business Administration is a savvy next step for anyone looking to take their business career to the next level. An MBA degree equips you with the key skills needed for success in high-paying leadership roles. As one can imagine, the curriculum of an MBA program is quite intense. While some students are able to resign from their full-time jobs to become full-time students, a large portion of MBA students have to find a balance between work and school. With part-time and flexible MBA programs, it is very possible to earn your MBA without giving up your current job, but it doesn’t come without its challenges. Working and studying full-time can be exhausting, and adding “school” into the work-life balance mix is easier said than done. However, by following the helpful tips listed below, you’ll be sure to find success in both work and school.

Pros and Cons of Working While Getting an MBA

Before making a major decision, it is important to carefully analyze the pros and cons — especially when that decision involves balancing two very time-consuming activities. As you start to consider working — either full- or part-time — while earning your MBA, here are a few important pros and cons to keep in mind.

Pros of Working While Getting an MBA

Though it may seem like a daunting prospect, working while getting your MBA has a number of advantages. 

  • Higher Acceptance Rate

Oftentimes, programs with part-time study options have a less competitive application process than traditional full-time programs. Opting for a part-time MBA program makes it possible to keep your job and may increase your odds of getting accepted.

  • Continued Income

While keeping your income might be the most obvious pro on the list, it is also one of the most important. You’re not only keeping your paycheck, but you’re also holding on to other important benefits, like insurance and retirement.

  • Improved Professional Skills

What better way to learn than getting to put your new skills into practice the next day? Working while you study gives you the ideal real-world setting to apply your new knowledge.

  • Increased Time Management

By balancing the demands of school and work, you’ll be honing your time management skills every single day. The strategies you develop to keep up with a demanding schedule will prove beneficial long after graduation day.

  • Greater Job Security

Starting the job search from scratch when your MBA program begins to wrap up is no easy process. Luckily, MBA students who choose to keep working during school can check the task of securing a job after graduation off the to-do list. 

  • Networking Opportunities

MBA programs present students with numerous opportunities to grow their network — and many of today’s employers do the same. By taking advantage of opportunities at both school and work, you’ll be able to grow your network like never before.

  • Tuition Reimbursement

It’s no secret that MBA graduates add incredible value to their workplaces. For that reason, some employers may help to offset the cost of earning your MBA through a tuition assistance program. 

Cons of Working While Getting an MBA

While there are many benefits to keeping your job while you make your way through an MBA program, there are some drawbacks you’ll want to consider as well.

  • Time Commitment

Throughout the duration of your MBA studies, the end of your work day equals the start of your school day. Work and school can both be incredibly time-consuming, and balancing the two may involve devoting less time to the things you enjoy the most.

  • Costs and Expenses

Tuition, supplies, and other school expenses can add up quickly. Though keeping an income helps to offset these costs, you’ll want to take a close look at your budget before making any commitments.

  • Income Sacrifice

If you do choose to taper down to a part-time work schedule, your paycheck will likely take a pretty big hit. While working part-time may reduce some of the stress of time management, the reduced income could create significant stress in other areas.


Tips for Juggling a Job While Getting an MBA

So you’ve weighed the pros and cons and have officially decided that working while getting your MBA is the way to go. Congratulations! This time is sure to be full of many challenges, but the rewards will be just as plentiful. Throughout your studies, there are a number of things you can do to set yourself up for success in school, work, and life. For starters, it’s important to choose both the right job and the right MBA program. To excel in your studies, skills like scheduling and organization paired with strong study habits are paramount to your success. Outside the classroom, a strong support system, time management skills, and clear expectations can all help you to achieve the ideal balance between school, work, and life.

Choose the Right Job

Some jobs can be much better than others when it comes to making time for your coursework. If you’re currently working in a highly demanding role that already leaves you without much time to spare, it might not be possible to add in sufficient study time too. Before diving into your MBA, take note of your daily schedule from week to week. Do you have certain time blocks you can devote to studying? If not, your current job might not be the best fit during school. The ideal job will leave you with a little bit of time every day to spend on your coursework. If you’re looking to maximize the amount of time you dedicate to your MBA, part-time employment could also be an option worth considering.

Master Time Management Skills

Juggling your roles as an employee and a student can get overwhelming very quickly — especially if those roles are both full-time. It is incredibly important to manage your time wisely when in this position. Focus on prioritizing important tasks and close deadlines, and try to break bigger projects into smaller pieces. When working on a group project, whether at work or in class, mindfully delegate tasks to your coworkers or fellow students. 

Stay Organized

Staying organized is a key part of balancing your job and MBA studies. Think about keeping a running to-do list in a highly visible place, and try to find a planner that you’re willing to keep up with. Organization applies not only to your tasks, but to your space as well. Keep papers for work and class separate, and ensure that necessary supplies are always within reach. Having an organized space may require some additional effort upfront, but it can save you valuable time in the long run.

Plan Your Schedule or Calendar in Advance

Once you’re able to organize your tasks, think about crafting your schedule for the coming days, weeks, and even months. Writing down your class meeting times and your major deadlines and due dates will allow you to work at a more manageable pace and will help you find time to devote to activities outside of work and school that are equally important. When last-minute changes inevitably arise, having a schedule makes it easier to make adjustments and shift around less-pressing tasks.

Develop Strong Study Habits

Whether you’ve been in the workforce for 10 years or you just finished your undergraduate degree within the last two years, your study habits have likely evolved. Think back on your tried-and-true methods, and through trial and error, discover what still works. Don’t be afraid to try a new strategy and keep an open mind to suggestions from your coworkers and classmates. Think about using portable study methods like flashcards or digital textbooks to squeeze in a few extra minutes of studying during your commute or lunch break. Many MBA programs even offer specialized tutoring for when you’re struggling with a challenging topic or find a class particularly difficult.

Get Support from Coworkers

As you prepare to start an MBA program, you’ll want to let your coworkers know. By informing them of your busy schedule, they may be less likely to send additional tasks your way, and they’ll be more understanding if you need to adjust a deadline or reschedule a meeting. If they also worked while getting their MBA, your coworkers might even be a valuable source of advice as well.

Approach Your Employer and Set Expectations

Before telling your peers in the office, you should schedule time to meet with your manager and discuss your plans. This conversation may touch on support systems your company has in place for MBA students, like flexible scheduling or tuition assistance. This time also allows you to be upfront with your manager about expected time commitments while reinforcing your dedication to your current role. In addition, it may be helpful to schedule quarterly check-ins to ensure you and your employer remain on the same page regarding your schedule and career goals.

Consider Online MBA Programs

If you’re planning to work as a full-time employee while getting your MBA, online programs can offer valuable flexibility. These programs may allow you to learn course content on your own time or to complete your coursework on a more manageable schedule. Some online MBA programs have occasional in-person requirements, so keep those dates in mind as you plan out your schedule.

Be Ready to Sacrifice Some Time

As you can imagine, balancing work and school doesn’t come without sacrifice. You’ll need to be prepared to give up some of your free time in order to focus on your commitments. This might mean sacrificing some of the time you dedicate to your hobbies or saying “no” to social activities that conflict with your school and work schedules. With that in mind, it is also important to prepare your friends and family for this change and keep them in the loop when you’re unavailable.

Make Time For Yourself

While much of your time outside of work will be dedicated to your MBA program, it’s vital to pencil in time for yourself as well. Some MBA programs allow students to work at their own pace, so be sure to take a look at the available schedule options when choosing a program. No matter the schedule of your program, it is essential to take time to reward yourself for your hard work. Consider adding breaks into your daily schedule, and be sure to make time for the things you care about — even if that time is brief.

Crummer Careers

Finding the perfect balance between work and life is hard enough; add in a rigorous MBA program, and it only gets more challenging. As difficult as this time may be, the experience comes with a range of benefits. It allows you to further your education while remaining financially secure and growing in your existing role. With the tips above, you’ll be well prepared to excel in both your MBA courses and your current job, and at Crummer, you’ll find a strong support system every step of the way. 

Crummer strives to create a student-centered environment that not only acknowledges the efforts of working students but also encourages their success. Various programs provide students with both the training and resources needed to develop in their professions. By fostering connections with employers, Crummer is truly able to support the student-employee from every angle.