An inside look by part-time MBA students at Germany’s #1 business school

What’s it like studying a part-time MBA program in Germany? To find out, we spoke to two current students at ESMT Berlin about the challenges they’ve faced and the rewards they’ve reaped during the program.

In short

Why should you choose a part-time MBA?

When it comes to part-time MBAs in Germany, the program at ESMT Berlin is leading the way. Founded by a group of German corporations in just 2002, the school has rapidly grown in stature to become the top-ranked business school in Germany and one of the top 10 in Europe.

ESMT’s Part-time MBA is one of the school’s leading programs and attracts a diverse mix of candidates from all over the world. To find out their reasons for choosing the program, we decided to speak to a couple of the current intake. Kelly Berry, who recently moved to Germany from the USA, says the opportunity to balance her studies alongside her personal life was very appealing.

“I felt like a part-time program was a better fit for me because I could be a student, but also be working,” she tells MBAGRADSCHOOLS. “I also had my son last year, so I thought I could probably manage a part-time MBA rather than a full-time program.” (01:32)

However, it’s not always personal reasons that mean students opt for a part-time program over a full-time one. Adam Garcia is another American student who completed the ESMT Berlin part-time MBA. He says during an exciting time in his industry, he simply couldn’t afford to step away from his career for a year or more.

“The industry that I’m in (renewable energies) is experiencing really big growth at the moment, and I didn’t feel like I could sit on the sidelines and take a year break from that. But I did see myself going into more leadership and management roles, so I felt like being able to learn about that at the same time would be a really powerful experience,” he explains. (02:16)

The challenges and benefits of a part-time MBA

Just as choosing a part-time MBA often comes down to personal or professional reasons, the benefits of part-time study fall into the same two categories. For Kelly, she valued the way she was able to fit an MBA alongside her current commitments – even if that arrangement led to a demanding workload.

“What I find most rewarding about a part-time MBA program is that you can really fit it into your schedule and you don’t have to stop everything to get your MBA,” she explains. “The challenge about that, of course, is that you really have to motivate yourself and manage your time well.” (05:34)

However, being able to study alongside your current job brings another key benefit. Adam says he was able to take the learnings from the MBA directly into his job in the renewable energy industry. It meant he was able to make an immediate impact on his business and also grow his value within the company.

“The MBA definitely took a lot of time and it wasn’t easy!” he laughs. “It took some patience from my friends, colleagues, and especially my significant other. But I got immediate benefits from what I was learning. For example, some of the strategy frameworks I learned I was able to immediately use to formulate our business strategy.” (07:32)

What’s it like to study in a hybrid format?

ESMT Berlin’s Part-time MBA is taught in a hybrid format, which means that the teaching of the program is divided between online (75%) and on-campus (25%). The program can be studied flexibly online, but students will have the chance to meet their classmates at regular residencies in Berlin. Kelly valued the personal connections she was able to make because of this hybrid format.

“The idea is that we meet on campus every four to five weeks for a three-day residency,” Kelly shares. “We get to have in-person lectures and classes given by our professors and get to know each other on a personal level. It’s really nice to be able to get together with my classmates and we manage to keep a close relationship even though we’re doing the part-time MBA.” (08:14)

The program is built around these on-campus residencies. Adam believes they help to bring the cohort together and encourage them to work together on regular group projects.

“For a lot of the group projects we did, a lot of us were remote,” he says. “But for the residencies, we had to organize weekly meetings to achieve our goals in these group projects. So there was definitely a feeling that we’re all in it together and that we had to come together as a group.” (10:02)

Thinking of pursuing a part-time MBA? Here’s some advice

If you’re considering a part-time MBA in Germany – or anywhere else for that matter – there are a few things you might want to think about first. Although full-time MBAs in Europe tend to be more or less one year, the part-time MBA at ESMT Berlin is two years long. Kelly says that although it can sometimes feel like a grueling two years, the rewards at the end will make all the hard work worth it.

“You’re doing the two-year part-time MBA on top of everything else in your life, and you’re going to have highs and lows,” she admits. “So it’s important to stay committed, and don’t be surprised when you have these lows because they’re inevitable over two years. Keep going and know that when graduation comes it will have been worth it because you’ll have made lots of new friends and learned a bunch of new skills.” (16:47)

Only a small proportion of applicants are accepted into an MBA program. Those that get accepted tend to be high-achievers, with excellent academic scores and years of experience in the workplace. But, during an MBA, you’re going to be confronted with topics you have little to no knowledge of. Adam says that when this happens, you have to learn to trust the expertise of your classmates.

“Be prepared for a really intense experience. You’ll learn a wide range of topics and be pushed out of your comfort zone and area of expertise. That means in your group work you’ll have to learn when to rely on someone else’s expertise. Sometimes, when no one in the room has knowledge of the topic, you’ll have to come together as a group to achieve your goals,” he says. (18:00)

With its unique hybrid format, world-class faculty, and excellent international reputation, it’s easy to see why this program is considered one of the best part-time MBAs in Germany. It may be tough, it may be grueling, and you may have to leave your comfort zone, but the rewards you’ll reap from a program like this will stay with you for the rest of your life.

Interested in hearing more about what it’s like to do a part-time MBA? Contact our Student Ambassadors who will be happy to share their experiences.

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