The decision to earn an executive education business certificate from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University is straightforward. With its diverse range of focused, cost-effective programs, there’s one (or more) certificate that will enhance your skills and knowledge to help propel your career forward. The more difficult decision may be whether to earn your certificate online or on campus.

This article will help you make that decision.

Let’s break down some of the key considerations when deciding whether on-campus or online classes are right for you.

The Myth of the Online Compromise

The first notion we should dispel is that one modality is inherently better than another. Over the past decades there have been great strides made in establishing effective online pedagogy in tandem with vastly improved mobile and wireless technology. The medium is now an alternative instead of a roadblock to quality education. The Kelley School of Business was a pioneer in developing effective online learning for working professionals and has 20 years of recognized expertise delivering online programs.

This is good news. The decision between online or on campus is no longer constrained by the limitations that early online learning management systems once had. With a few exceptions, learning complex business skills and concepts works effectively both online and on campus. The choice no longer involves a compromise in quality. Either method has advantages and disadvantages depending largely on personal preference.

A quick compare and contrast can help determine which direction might be right for you.

Online advantages

  • Flexibility: You can choose when you want to learn. This can be important for working professionals with jobs, families, and other commitments.
  • Convenience: You’re a busy professional with many responsibilities. You don’t need to add travel time to campus to the list. If you can’t “make it to class” for a live virtual lecture, you can watch and learn at your convenience.
  • Broader networking opportunities with peers and mentors: Online communities span the globe. Learn from colleagues, coaches, and potential partners from around the world.

Online disadvantages

  • No face-to-face contact with instructors and students: For some, this may stifle spontaneity. The Kelley School designs its online programs to encourage interaction among faculty and classmates during live virtual classes. All classes are recorded for later access. Students can also have virtual private face-to-face time with their instructors.
  • Can be a more isolating experience: Some may prefer a physical classroom with face-to-face interaction and access to other on-campus experiences.

On-campus advantages

  • Technical preferences and limitations: Not everyone enjoys using technology. Some students may not have access to high-speed internet or other technical requirements for accessing course material.
  • Physical campus facilities: The environment can influence the experience. Maybe you already work remotely and just want to go somewhere and interact with people directly.
  • Face-to-face interaction with instructors and fellow students: Some courses benefit from in-person, face-to-face connections. For instance, Kelley School’s Influential Communicator is offered only on campus. Also, while online networking is broader, in-person networking is arguably deeper, providing opportunities to forge strong, personal alliances.

On-campus disadvantages

  • Less flexible: Getting to campus to attend a class that you’ll otherwise miss can be a deal-breaker. It simply isn’t a viable option for some working professionals with lots of competing responsibilities or who can’t travel to campus.
  • Geographically limited networking opportunities: With the potential benefit of in-person interaction comes the constraint of a smaller geographic circle of potential opportunities.

Online or On Campus: Which Is Right for You?

We’ve looked at some of the primary advantages and disadvantages of each method. Summarizing each one, let’s break it down into four essential factors—technology, situation, timing, and goals—that will inform your decision:


Online programs require a well-planned and effective learning management system (LMS)  as well as sufficient bandwidth at the receiving end to adequately access the material and interact with instructors and fellow students.


Are you close to campus? Do you live across the country? Reentering the workforce? Working professional? Can you afford the time to travel? Do you need to fit your learning into tight windows of time? Will your employer provide funds and time for travel? Is on-demand access important? The best choice depends on these and other factors, your other responsibilities, and your preferred style of learning.


When do you want to start your learning experience? How does the program fit into your schedule? Availability—the timing of program delivery and access to a course—is a major consideration.


What are your educational and career goals? What skills and knowledge do you need to do your current job better? How can you prepare  for the next opportunity? How will the program you choose best help you to achieve these goals?

In the end, the decision to earn a business certificate online or on campus centers on three of the Kelley School’s most popular options that are offered in both online and on-campus formats. These include:

As previously mentioned, the Influential Communicator program is only available on-campus.

The following executive education certificate programs are only offered online. With all online courses, you’ll benefit from the 20 years of experience the Kelley School has developing exceptional online learning opportunities:

Whether online or on-campus, the certificate programs at the Kelley School are an opportunity to learn new skills, sharpen old ones, and build new relationships with instructors and student colleagues. A business certificate program can be the launching pad for the next step in your professional career.