Shaquille O’Neal was able to earn his MBA online while still winning accolades on the court, managing a business empire, acting in film and TV, and doing everything else required of a mega-sports superstar. 

Basketball isn’t forever. But education last a lifetime. This is something Shaquille O’Neal understood before he became a basketball legend and arguably North America’s most gregarious NBA personality. Way back in 1992, when he left Louisiana State University (LSU) to join the Orlando Magic, he made a promise to his mother that someday he would go back — and graduate. And he did, earning a bachelor’s in business from LSU in 2000. That was just the beginning of his passion for education.

A world of possibilities

Online education has created a world of possibilities for busy people with hectic schedules like O’Neal. When he enrolled in the University of Phoenix’s online MBA program, he juggled school with the NBA, celebrity endorsements, acting, music gigs, running his own clothing line and other typical business interests of a mega-superstar.

But education is one of O’Neal’s core values and he was able to make time for what matters to him, thanks to the flexibility online education provides.

Online flexibility

“As a former NBA player, you’re always traveling but with the options available, anyone can make time for school,” O’Neal said.

"Online and remote education made it more feasible. Besides attending classes on campus, he used satellite classrooms, video-conferencing and the online educational tool Blackboard.com."

While he was playing for the Los Angeles Lakers he attended classes at the University of Phoenix, West Los Angeles Campus, as well as doing online class work. After he was traded to the Miami Heat he continued the program online and graduated in 2005.

Education for hectic lives

“It’s just something to have on my resume [for] when I go back into reality,” he told Associated Press (AP) about the MBA. “Sports for me has always been, you know, fairy tale life. And this right here is real life. This right here means more.”

He agrees that making online education accessible and engaging is important, “so that students are and remain interested in learning. Of course students will always have a better chance of learning the material if they enjoy class.”

The MBA, he told AP, “solidifies that I’m a businessman.”

Dr. O’Neal

O’Neal continued his education at Barry University in Miami, Florida. A year after he retired from the Boston Celtics in 2011, he received his doctorate in Education - Organizational Learning and Leadership.

Online and remote education made it more feasible. Besides attending classes on campus, he used satellite classrooms, video-conferencing and the online educational tool Blackboard.com.

This is for mom

In typical Shaq style, he hoisted his professor into the air at the graduation ceremony in 2012.

“This is for my mother, who always stressed the importance of education,” O’Neal said. “I am proud to have achieved a doctoral degree and wish to thank my professors and Barry University for helping make this dream a reality. I’m smart enough to know that, even at my tender age, my pursuit of education is never finished.”