What does it really feel like to go to business school as a working professional? Why would some people choose one MBA programme over another? If you are struggling to differentiate between the full-time and part-time format, keep reading and you might just find your perfect MBA type.

Would you pick a part-time MBA?

You have a job you like in an industry you know well. Even if it’s not necessarily in business, there are certain business aspects you would like to understand better. You have been thinking that you would enjoy stepping up to a more managerial position, if only you had that general skill set required for leaders.

If that sounds all too familiar, you may be the type of person who will benefit most from a part-time MBA programme. The part-time MBA is designed for professionals who want to grow within their full-time job and need to acquire the hard and soft skills to climb the corporate ladder.

Business school seems like the right solution – there are plenty of accredited and top-ranked institutions specialised in helping professionals like you reach their full leadership potential. But there is one thing stopping you: you do not want or cannot afford to quit your job to pursue an MBA degree. This is exactly what makes the part-time MBA a great opportunity – it gives you the flexibility to keep working while gaining the skills and knowledge for your professional growth.

It's true that studying part-time while working full-time is a fine balancing act. However, it is all a matter of mental preparation and good time management, says Ewa-Ade Adeyemo, Part-time MBA Class of 2022 at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management (Germany):

From a practical perspective, combining the programme with a full-time job was initially challenging as I needed to find a routine which worked but with time it got better. I came up with a system of sticking to defined study schedules spread across the week, which alongside reduced procrastination, helped a lot.

Of course, there is more to life than working and studying and the part-time MBA helps with that too. With its evening and weekend classes and online projects, you can still stay close to your home and family.

Once they start this journey, professionals come to appreciate the most beneficial aspect of the part-time MBA. It is the ability to apply what you learn to your workplace almost instantly. Your manager and your colleagues will be able to see the effects of your studies in your day-to-day work.

There are many advantages to a part-time programme, but it’s important to be aware of potential drawbacks as well. This MBA format occupies only a few hours per week which means it will take longer than a traditional programme to graduate. Keep your eyes on the end goal and your motivation strong throughout the experience.

Many part-time programmes are also not as immersive as their full-time counterparts. International study trips are not typical for this format and there may be fewer opportunities for targeted networking. However, picking a school with a diverse cohort, exciting curriculum, and international faculty will more than make up for these gaps.

Or are you the type to choose a full-time MBA?

With several years of experience at your job, you feel like it’s time for a change. You have reached the top of your capabilities and you need something to propel you in a new direction. Perhaps in an entirely new industry? Or in another country? Regardless of the type of transformation you are looking for, you are ready to take one or two years off work to pursue this dream.

Morenike Akinyemi opted for the full-time MBA at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business (Canada) because she knew this opportunity suited her goals:

I always saw myself working beyond clinical pharmacy. I felt that I could also shine on the business side of healthcare. I knew that with my strong clinical training an MBA would help open more doors and give me the mobility I was looking for in my career.

If you recognise yourself in some of these lines, you might be the type of person to choose a full-time MBA programme. With its rigorous full-time schedule, this format requires that students quit their jobs to be able to dedicate a year or two to their studies. Although it might seem like a lot at first, this time will be filled with incredible networking opportunities, study trips all over the world, and career advice personalised to your needs. These perks are rarely available in part-time or online programmes, which makes the full-time MBA the most immersive educational experience you could choose.

Imagine yourself in a classroom with 30 or 50 other professionals. In some ways, they are just like you – out of their comfort zone and eager to learn. But at the same time, they have their unique culture and completely different work experience. There are few environments that provide a more vibrant and rich experience than the full-time MBA classroom and at HKU Business School (Hong Kong), Hong Phuc Nguyen discovered just that:

They all say you would meet interesting people doing MBA,” Hong Phuc, Class of 2019, says. “However, being mentored by Savio Kwan, the former President and COO of Alibaba, and being able to have a coffee with the man once a month is way beyond my dreams.

In this type of setting, you learn just as much from your peers as from your teachers. If you are looking for a one-of-a-kind network of connections and friendships, join the full-time MBA. However, be prepared for a rigorous path ahead as you fully immerse in the journey – you will need the mental, financial, and time management support from people close to you.

Regardless of your MBA type, business school offers a welcoming environment to anyone who is open-minded and curious enough to challenge themselves and grow.