Which MBA program is better, Liberty or Walden?
September 27, 2010 12:41 PM   Subscribe

I am contemplating whether or not to enroll in an online MBA program. I am on the last term of my undergraduate degree and will be done on October 15th:) I am doing Liberty University's online program and will have a BS of Multi-Disciplinary Studies with cognates in Business and Psychology. I am weighing out whether to stick with Liberty and pursue their MBA program or to enroll in Walden for theirs. It seems impossible to find unbiased ratings online to adequately compare the two. Is there a significant prestige difference between them? Would earnings potential be higher at one over the other? Am I making a mistake all together in going for it online? I have a full-time job and soon to be two children that take up a lot of my time, so the online format is very helpful for my lifestyle. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post. I appreciate any relevant insights or experiences that you could share. Have a great day!
posted by gibbsjd77 to Work & Money (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
You should ask your employer. I don't think Liberty or Walden have the kind of recognition that would make a difference in salary. Naturally, this all depends on what you already do careerwise. Both sound like non-competitive programs.
posted by anniecat at 12:52 PM on September 27, 2010

Response by poster: It doesn't make a particular difference at my current employer. I'm more interested about what the value difference might be in the larger business world.
posted by gibbsjd77 at 1:00 PM on September 27, 2010

You may encounter some... skepticism about Liberty's academic values from people who know of the connection to Jerry Falwell.
posted by Oktober at 1:07 PM on September 27, 2010

I am hard pressed to think of a large business firm that would give much weight to an online MBA. MBA's are all about networking, sharing experiences, etc. It's not about coursework.
posted by wooh at 1:10 PM on September 27, 2010 [5 favorites]

2nding Oktober...there's sort of an ick factor, this, from a guy with two daughters who graduated from Falwell's alma mater.
posted by timsteil at 1:11 PM on September 27, 2010

I really hate to break it to you, but outside the world of very conservative evangelicalism, Liberty is a joke. There isn't a significant difference n prestige between Liberty and Walden because neither of them has any prestige. The larger business world is, unless I've significantly missed by guess, not going to think that an MBA from either Liberty or Walden is worth the paper it's printed on.

But Liberty is at least a traditional non-profit institution, not a diploma mill, which is exactly what Walden is. That right there should be a no-brainer. But if you have even a small care for the prestige of your degree you absolutely need to go somewhere else.
posted by valkyryn at 1:17 PM on September 27, 2010 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow, pretty harsh perspectives so far. Is there anyone who has had experience with either of the programs that could share?
posted by gibbsjd77 at 1:19 PM on September 27, 2010

Response by poster: I don't mean to come across as defensive. I appreciate the shared opinion even if it is rather negative.
posted by gibbsjd77 at 1:22 PM on September 27, 2010

I'm sorry that other commenters are being harsh about Liberty and Walden, but I have to say that their perspectives would be my perspective as well. My wife has an online MBA (with excellent grades, from the University of Maryland), and that it was not much of an asset in her recent job search. I have a more traditional MBA, from the University of Texas, and it was much more of an asset. It was not an asset to all of my classmates, though.

My advice to anyone interested in an MBA would be this: make sure that you understand how the credential will help you in your specific career path. Don't do it because it seems like "the next step;" it isn't really worth it for a lot of people. Pursue either an MBA at a top ten program, or an in-person MBA in the city you intend to live in.
posted by Clambone at 1:31 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'll echo what others have said: having worked in higher education at a business school, and having done hiring in business, I wouldn't place a ton of value in either Liberty or Walden. They just don't have positive name recognition, and aren't regarded well by and large. If you are thinking of going after an MBA, here are some things to consider:

1 - There's the "top 10" schools, and then there's everything else. That's not to say that a great public university is any worse of an education than Harvard Business School or Sloan or Stanford GSB, just that they're not in the same class.

2 - In person is still considered more "legitimate" than online, although that is slowly changing. With an MBA, this is also influenced by the fact that networking is a key component of the experience.

3 - If you're dead set on doing something online, do it through a school that has a physical campus, and simply offers an online option. This is especially true if the online curriculum is nearly identical to the in-person curriculum, and if the school doesn't really differentiate between the two.

4 - Lastly, what matters more than anything else is regional accreditation. If the school is regionally accredited (and no, national accreditation is NOT better), then most recruiters are okay with it.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 1:44 PM on September 27, 2010

By the way, if you're looking for some great public online programs, check out the California State University system, the University of Maryland, University of Texas system, and Indiana University. They were all mentioned quite positively in a recent article on how recruiters view online degrees.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 1:47 PM on September 27, 2010

Many state schools now offer a partially online option for many degree programs and significant flexability for the other portion. If you live in one of those states, this would be a great option. First, you'll get it from a place with a reputation already (though your local state university system might not be so awesome). Second, they're aiming for people just like you. Take some classes online, other classes in person and maybe some others still with a hybrid model. You still get to do the work at home with the kids around but still get the networking and in-person education experience.
posted by Brian Puccio at 1:49 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is good advice from Clambone:

Pursue either an MBA at a top ten program, or an in-person MBA in the city you intend to live in.

Any other option will be a huge waste of your hard-earned dollars.

It seems impossible to find unbiased ratings online to adequately compare the two.

That is because those two programs are universally mocked.

There are plenty of good online Master's - but finding the right one depends on what you want to accomplish by earning it.

I'm more interested about what the value difference might be in the larger business world

There is no value difference because neither of these programs are worth it. If you want, post your location and what you want to do with an advanced degree and we'll help you identify other options. I know how hard it is to figure this stuff out, but if you are only asking which of these two you should pursue, the answer is neither. If you broaden your question, you might get more substantial advice.
posted by archivist at 1:50 PM on September 27, 2010

You should research programs on this forum: http://forums.degreeinfo.com/

The people there will have a lot more info specific to your question than MetaFilter is likely to have.
posted by Jacqueline at 3:14 PM on September 27, 2010

This is an important life decision for you, and I know this comment isn't adding much, but I really, really wanted to add to the chorus:
Do not go to either school's MBA program.
Your wallet and your career will both be better off for it.
And that's true both in both the short-term and the long-run.
posted by demagogue at 3:24 PM on September 27, 2010

There's the "top 10" schools, and then there's everything else.

That isn't precisely true. I would say that there's top 10 schools, everyone else, and then places like Walden. Liberty is sort of riding right on the edge between the latter two.

Getting a non-technical degree from a for-profit institution like Walden--especially an online degree--is basically signaling to the marketplace that you don't know what you're doing. Getting any degree from Liberty isn't that much better. All degrees are not created equal.
posted by valkyryn at 3:26 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

While I also agree with commenters that Liberty is not well respected outside of evangelical christian circles, I want to add a note of caution about for profit colleges in general. (Walden is for profit; Liberty is not).

There is a huge incentive to get you to enroll, because with loans, the education seems "free" to many students. However, when an aspiring lawyer takes out $100K in loans to get a degree from a tier I or II law school, it's with the knowledge that, as long as she graduates, she'll earn like $60K a year right away (er, at least that's how it used to be).

Yet a degree from a for-profit, while sold as a similar "investment" offers no path to a career that can pay significantly more than a community college, trade school, technical school, or even just books from the library and a lot of moxie in applying for jobs.

And so, there's a good deal of scamminess and shadiness in the industry: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/04/education/04education.html

As the kid of a professor who teaches at colleges that aren't really the greatest, many colleges - even "non-profits" - have, unfortunately, become more and more about cashing checks from the government (and leaving students to default on their loans later).

And finally, anecdote time: I know a woman with an online masters' and $50K in debt, yet she's still a secretary making like $25K/year. Despite her degrees, the fact is that her alma matter isn't respected by recruiters; what's more, her skillset hasn't advanced beyond secretarial duties. She could have stayed home racking up debt for two years while teaching herself with library books and she'd have more useful skills.

I think community college is likely a good way to go - cheap and career-oriented. But, don't sell yourself short on programs you think you can do. Apply to online programs at selective schools, too. For instance, Harvard has a school of continuing education and offers many courses online (though I'm not sure if it's possible to complete an entire degree online). I believe they might offer aid as well, but it's pretty cheap regardless - also there's no application procedure, you just have to do well in intro classes in order to be admitted.

Congrats on your upcoming graduation, btw!
posted by lesli212 at 3:38 PM on September 27, 2010 [2 favorites]

I would recommend against going straight to graduate school, online or offline. Get a job and work for a year, then think about continuing your education. If you are working for a larger company there is a chance they'll help pay for the MBA if you can work it in around your work responsibilities. The major schools in just about any city will have evening / weekend options for getting an MBA.

If you just want the academic knowledge of income statements and balance sheets from business school, skip paying for classes anywhere. You can get all of that online for free.
posted by COD at 4:14 PM on September 27, 2010

Response by poster: "If you want, post your location and what you want to do with an advanced degree and we'll help you identify other options."

Thank you all so far, I appreciate all of the advice given. I really do enjoy educational pursuits and don't see an MBA as just a paycheck bump. I hope to grow myself and gain valuable experience and hopefully become a better leader and person in the process. That might sound a little like a motivational infomercial, but that is how I think. I currently work in the law profession and am reasonably happy with that, but could see myself in a different field in the future. This sounds very broad, but banking, investing, marketing, and healthcare management all appeal to me. I would also be happy in a managerial capacity in a factory setting. It seems likely to me that the healthcare sector will be producing more jobs in the future with the aging population. I hope that this doesn't come across as eletist sounding, but I really do enjoy situations in which I can oversee a project and lead people and see it come to fruition. My hope is that my education will allow me to be in positions that require important decisions and strategic vision. I currently reside in Florida in the Tampa/St Petersburg region.
posted by gibbsjd77 at 4:18 PM on September 27, 2010

I currently work in the law profession and am reasonably happy with that, but could see myself in a different field in the future.

I know students from Liberty, and I can attest that they at least are an actual school, in comparison to Walden, who have no credibility anywhere I've ever heard of. However, I don't think either of these programs would open the kinds of doors you're looking for, and that you might actually find it easier to switch careers WITHOUT these schools than with them.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 5:25 PM on September 27, 2010

This sounds very broad, but banking, investing, marketing, and healthcare management all appeal to me.

I don't know about marketing or healthcare management, but in order to work in either "banking" or "investing" (more or less the same thing), you will need an MBA from a reputable school, which neither Walden nor Liberty is, for the reasons articulated above.
posted by dfriedman at 5:54 PM on September 27, 2010 [1 favorite]

Your description of what you want to do is really, really broad and vague. In fact, the industries you mention are very different from each other. One of the things you will need if you decide to apply to a reputable MBA program is the ability to coherently describe what your professional goals are and how the degree fits in with those goals. In your case, you need to decide what you want to do and then how an MBA will further that goal.

Reputable programs are looking for people who are logical thinkers, who can identify and achieve goals, and who can express themselves professionally and effectively. One of the ways you demonstrate that is by knowing what you want to do and why. The reality is that you might say, "I'm interested in marketing" and then end up in a different field 15 years later. That's ok, but good programs are looking for people with some kind of direction.

Given what you have stated here, I'd recommend you take some time off from school after graduation and think about what you really want. Then figure out whether you need some additional schooling to accomplish that. If you just want to become a better leader in your everyday life, read some good books on leadership and work on putting those principles to work. Look for opportunities (at work, in your community, at church) to lead projects. This costs very little (other than your time), and will probably get you a great deal closer to your goal of being a better person and leader than the degrees you are currently considering.
posted by jeoc at 7:50 PM on September 27, 2010

It doesn't make a particular difference at my current employer. I'm more interested about what the value difference might be in the larger business world.

Pretty much zilch. They aren't selective.
posted by anniecat at 8:39 PM on September 27, 2010

Response by poster: So the general consensus so far is that either program would be a waste of money and effort??? Would I really be no more likely to get an even slightly higher salary or promotion from having an MBA from Walden or Liberty? I'm not expecting to get the types of opportunity that a Stanford or Harvard MBA would offer, but would it really offer no added value for a career at say Bank of America or a Hospital? I am glad that I asked this question on the board. It has been enlightening and I am better off for having gained a sharp perspective. Thank you for your input and have a great day!
posted by gibbsjd77 at 4:00 PM on September 28, 2010

The level at which an advanced degree opens doors depends entirely on the connections and trust you establish in your field. It is a myth that any graduate education will automatically give you an edge. The diploma alone does nothing beyond the personal benefit of having been exposed to more people and information.

Grad school is NOT the place to kick around ideas and figure out what you want. That is what your undergraduate education is for.

Grad school is for specializing and networking into your field.

A good grad school will build your knowledge base in one specialized area, and will expect you to leave the school AN EXPERT IN THAT AREA. You have indicated absolutely nothing here that shows you have prepared yourself for that line of thinking.

Any school that admits you into an advanced degree program based on vague, generic personal goals ("give me an edge at bank of america or a hospital") is not a place that offers a credible degree. You need to decide, with extreme specificity, what it is you want to accomplish. THEN you go after a program that matches those goals. Doing anything else is burning money and may actually make you look foolish to recruiter.
posted by archivist at 10:23 AM on September 29, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have done an exhaustive research on on-line classes as compared to your regular classroom environment. Of course, people who graduated from traditional school will look down upon an on-line environment. It is human nature. Studies have shown that on-line if the course work is rigorous is better for most people. You will waste up to two to three hours of study time for every day you attend class. What I do not understand about the people who have earned Masters is that why is these people stop their rigorous thought processing.

I have researched Liberty and have found that they have gone beyond their founding fathers. Liberty is in the top five or ten in most evaluations. They have been compared by the Department of Education to the University of Texas. While the Department of Education did not come to a conclustion, I do find that comparison worthy of consideration.

You will find that Liberty may be looked down on by many people but it is one of the best on-line schools.

When a person spends $40,000 for a degree and you spend $20,000 to a Christian school, they may look down on you. I would stress the ethical foundation of Liberty and that the courses taught at Liberty are much like the courses in other schools.

If you decide to attend Liberty, you may have to endure some prejudice. I recommend that you study marketing and how to overcome obstacles.

I am not associated with Liberty at this time. I have merely done some research in making making my decision on what school to attend. I am considering Liberty based on cost and the program. I cannot afford or have the time to attend a what is called a pretigious school.
posted by weshh at 11:23 AM on April 1, 2011

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