The popularity and viability of online education is undeniable. The online MBAs are rapidly growing in number, from the first online MBA program from Aspen University in 1987 to 355 accredited online MBA degrees today. The past 28 years have given us many programs and formats to choose from, but the evolution is far from over. Students can choose 100% online or hybrid programs from private, public, for-profit, nonprofit, non-accredited, and accredited schools. GetEducated.com reports that the average cost of an accredited online MBA program hits just above $37,000, with programs ranging from $9,600 to $145,000. And these MBA courses generally require 20-25 hours devoted to coursework and writing per week. But what if you are in a situation where you cannot shell out $30K-$150K, or offer 25 hours per week on homework, but you would still like to work toward your MBA and business expertise? Are there other options?
The answer is yes!
There are options ranging from enrolling in a competitive "pre-MBA" program from Harvard to spending four hours on a self-paced course from Stanford, with many options in between. These types of options can help you figure out if an online education is for you. It can keep you on the road to working toward an MBA and allow you to put more credentials on your resume or MBA application letters.
Hailing from the Ivy League, Harvard University offers some online courses from the highly esteemed Harvard Business School, the HBX CORe program. HBX describes the program as a "primer on the fundamentals of business thinking" to give students fluency in the world of business. The program is three courses, Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting, lasting 10-18 weeks, and costs $1,800. At the end of the program, students take a final exam and receive an HBX certificate that can be listed on resumes.
Coursera was founded by two Stanford University faculty, and today stands as an online education gateway for students to access courses and programs from top universities and organizations worldwide. Students can access courses from University of California, Irvine, University of Michigan, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, and Northwestern University, just to name a few. Courses are offered alone or grouped in a specialization set. Prices can range from free up to over $500. At the end of the course, students are offered an option course certificate for formal recognition of their accomplishments. There is even talk of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offering an open online MBA through the Coursera website.
But Coursera is not the only one of its kind. Harvard University and MIT came together in 2012 and founded edX. edX is a nonprofit online learning platform that provides free courses from some of the world's best universities and institutions. Students can find free courses available from organizations and colleges such as Columbia, MIT, University of Pennsylvania, New York Institute of Finance, and Cornell. The website also offers an XSeries Program from MIT in Supply Chain Management. These courses are offered at $100-$150 per course, and those that do well in the courses and pass a set of proctored exams could earn a "MicroMaster's" from MIT. Top students that complete this program could apply for a full-fledged MBA program at MIT with what is called an inverted admission.
In addition to the free online courses available through Coursera and edX, some Universities also offer free online courses, including Stanford and MIT. Stanford Online offers a variety of educational courses on their site. Courses that cater to the business students include: The Spirit of Entrepreneurship and Principles of Economics. Some courses are even offered as self-paced courses that students can take at any time.
MIT offers a very substantive offering through their MIT Open courseware. This platform states that virtually all MIT course materials are published online in order to allow accessibility to everyone. MIT Open courseware offers over 2,200 courses online and has received 175 million visitors. The MIT Sloan School of Management has its own section of course offerings. For example, students can find the readings, study questions, lectures, and assignments for the Sloan course on Organizational Leadership and Change.
If you are someone who is interested in pursuing an online MBA in the years to come, you can use this time now to prepare yourself and work towards that program today. Options are available at a much smaller cost and time commitment. Find your starting point and start today.