For many, enthusiasm for enrolling in an online MBA is dampened by the threat of stigma – will employers place as much value on an online MBA as one earned in a classroom? Will the salary and career benefits be comparable? The answer to both questions is yes, they will!

As online degree programs become more popular and more and more elite schools begin to offer online degrees, the stigma surrounding this form of distance education is disappearing. These days, there’s no reason an online MBA can’t earn you the same salary boost that a traditional MBA program can. Plus, earning your MBA online can save you tens of thousands of dollars in living expenses and allow you to complete your courses on your own schedule.

The Stigma of Online Education Is No More

Most employers no longer turn their noses up at online degrees the way they might have 15 or 20 years ago. Plenty of great business schools now offer online MBAs, including Carnegie Mellon, the University of Florida and the University of Texas at Dallas. When it comes to impressing employers, it’s the reputation of your school that counts, not whether you earned the degree online or in the classroom.

Employers may not even know that you earned your degree online, unless it comes up in the interview. It’s not as if your online degree is printed on different paper or your online MBA is just an MBA. A big part of the reason why online education no longer carries the stigma it once did is that brick-and-mortar schools with good reputations and long histories require the students in their online MBA degree programs to take the same classes, with the same professors and using the same course materials as on-campus MBA students. You’ll be learning the same material, forming the same relationships with faculty and adhering to the same rigorous academic standards as students in the traditional, brick-and-mortar program.

If anything, potential employers may want to know how you managed to earn a degree while working full-time, if you go that route, and you may need to explain your choice of an online program, how online learning works and what you got out of attending courses online while working. Many employers will be impressed that you managed to juggle a demanding academic program and a full-time job.

You’ll Save Money by Studying Online

MBAs are one of the most popular online degree programs because they allow working, adult students to pursue a valuable credential in their own time, without leaving the workforce. When you factor in the cost of leaving the workforce for a year or two (up to $200,000, depending on your current salary), moving to a new city ($10,000 or more, depending on location), covering living expenses while you study full-time (up to $30,000 or more, depending on location and lifestyle), tuition (as much as $60,000 a year for some programs) and other incidentals like books, study abroad programs and unforeseen emergency expenses, you could be looking at going almost half a million dollars in debt in the service of earning an MBA the old-fashioned way.

Going to school online, however, slashes many of those costs. Sure, you’ll still be on the hook for tuition, books, study abroad and some other costs, but you can keep your job and stay where you are, which makes the expense of an MBA much more manageable. You may even be able to convince your employer to pay for some or all of your tuition. And an online MBA can start paying off even before you graduate because you’ll be able to apply what you’re learning directly to your job.

Pull Down a Much Bigger Salary

Once you have your MBA in hand, you’ll be able to command a much bigger salary than you would have before. The average pay for MBA graduates is now up to $142,000 – a record high. Your starting salary will be an average of $45,000 higher than that of a candidate who only has a bachelor’s degree. For the highest salaries, pursue a career in financial services where the average MBA graduate earns $159,000.

If you’ve been wondering whether an online MBA can really boost your earning potential the way a traditional MBA can, the answer is definitely yes! Employers don’t care whether you earned your degree online or not; increasingly, MBA students are choosing online programs for their convenience and affordability. Don’t wait any longer – it’s time to boost your earning potential and advance your career in an online MBA.