Online learning is a boon to people who want to continue working while earning an MBA. But how do online classes work? What is the classroom environment like? How do students and professors interact?

We sat down with Jeff Nagle, senior managing director in the Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business at Purdue University, to discuss what to expect as a student in the Purdue Online MBA program.

Does the Online MBA Program Teach the Same Curriculum as the Campus Program?

Yes, it does. There’s a common core of foundational courses for the MBA that are identical, regardless if you attend online or in person.

“It's the same faculty delivering the same course with the same content — it's just delivered in a different modality,” says Nagle. “Students can expect the same great education we offer at our residential campus at Purdue West Lafayette, just in an online format.”

What Is the Learning Platform Like?

Purdue University uses D2L’s Brightspace platform for all online courses.

“We supplement that with other tools such as Yellowdig, which enables us to build active, social and experiential learning communities for students. And we pull in any third-party tools we think will enhance the student experience,” says Nagle. “In fact, all classes at Purdue — residential or online — use Brightspace to some degree, so our faculty, instructional designers and technical support staff are all comfortable with the platform.”

Residential courses focus more on in-person classroom instruction, so there will be less content in Brightspace; but for online courses, everything for students is in Brightspace.

What Does a Typical Course Look Like?

For online MBA students, typical courses are 7 weeks, with an off week between each 7-week course. There are some 4- and 1-week courses available, as well.

“We know they’re sharing a lot of responsibility between school, work, home and family lives,” Nagle says. “Having a week off gives students the chance to reset and get ready for their next module.”

Classes in the Purdue Online MBA program are a mix of:

  • Asynchronous learning — Students can watch lectures and complete coursework at a time that’s convenient for them. Faculty record all lecture videos in a professional studio in advance.
  • Synchronous learning For these optional sessions, students can log in at a specific time each week and participate in class in real time.

“The synchronous sections are recorded too, so if you can’t be there that day, you have the flexibility to watch the recording,” Nagle says. “We encourage you to attend synchronous classes in real time because that’s the best experience. But it is recorded, so if you have to miss a class, you won’t be a week behind.”

Average class size in the Purdue Online MBA program is about 45.

What Are Assignments Like?

These vary by course and professor. There are group projects, partner projects and solo assignments.

“You may be working through a case study with a team or putting together some kind of project or proposal,” Nagle says. “You may be working with a partner, devising a solution to a problem. You may be working alone doing quizzes, reading and so on.” 

How Do Online MBA Students Connect With Faculty and Other Students?

Classes in Brightspace come with a discussion board, which helps build community among students. Students can also connect with their peers and professors via email, Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Faculty hold regular office hours, so you can reach out to your professor with questions.

“There's also live chat during the synchronous classes, and most of the time, faculty will open it up so you can just turn on your mic and ask questions,” Nagle says. “It’s very interactive, in real time — with ample opportunities to engage with faculty and fellow students.”

How Do Students Get Career Support?

Students in the Purdue Online MBA program have access to the same career services that on-campus students have. This includes:

  • Help with career exploration, defining and setting career goals
  • One-on-one time with a certified executive coach who can help you improve performance and maximize your potential
  • Networking guidance and opportunities
  • Interview skills (including mock interview support)
  • Career and professional development workshops

“In addition, every student has an academic advisor who helps map out their academic path from the start of their program all the way to graduation,” Nagle says. “They flag potential problems for students too, such as staying on track to meet their graduation goal.”

>>Read More: The 6 MBA Skills You’ll Learn to Support Your Career Goals

Is Graduation In-Person or Online?

It can be either or both. There is a virtual graduation ceremony for students in the Purdue Online MBA program, and all students have the opportunity to come to the Purdue campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, to walk in graduation.

What Are the Computer System Requirements?

Nagle recommends that students have their own computer (PC or Mac) with solid functionality.

“We strongly recommend having your own personal laptop or desktop computer,” Nagle says. “If you use a company laptop, you’ll have to work with the company IT department to allow connection to the Purdue VPN and to download various apps and software.”

Minimum Recommendations

  • Processor: Intel Core i5 or better
  • Memory: 8GB RAM or better
  • Video card: any
  • Hard drive: 250GB+ (SSD for better performance)
  • Optical drive: Not required
  • Networking:
    • Gigabit Ethernet and wireless 802.11 (G, N and/or AC)
    • Gigabit Ethernet connection (or appropriate dongle or USB networking adapter)
    • Wireless 802.11 (preferably AC, but also G or N)
  • External ports: at least 1 USB 2.0 (or higher) port
  • Anti-virus: Windows Defender

Technical support is available by phone and email 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They can help you handle hardware and software issues. (Note that tech support is closed on university holidays.)

>>More Questions? See the Purdue Online MBA FAQs page

Grow Your Career With the Purdue Online MBA

The Purdue Online MBA can help advance your career while enabling you to effectively balance work, school and family obligations. Reach out today to learn more about earning an online MBA with Purdue University.