Video Clips: Inside An Online MBA Program

It was two years ago when 18 people signed up to became the first students to start a new two-year online MBA program at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. Called MBA@UNC, it was the first time Kenan-Flager had offered an MBA degree online, joining pioneer Indiana University’s Kelley Direct program as the two most prominent business schools in the U.S. to take the degree to the Internet.

To launch online, Kenan-Flagler partnered with an online educational startup called 2U Inc., which had raised nearly $70 million in venture funding. 2U said it was investing more than $10 million into the online MBA effort alone. It also has online degree programs in nursing at Georgetown University as well as social work and education at the University of Southern California. Kenan-Flagler has had 20 of its full-time professors, many of them considered the school’s best faculty, deeply involved in the online initiative, developing and recording special lectures and teaching live classes via the Internet.

Now for the first time, 2U is sharing some snippets of video that give a better glimpse of what it’s like to be an online MBA student. The clips range from an elementary lecture on financing (see above), filmed in a bank with a Kenan-Flagler professor offering advice to a consumer who is considering refinancing her mortgage, to Professor Bill Putsis’ lecture on segmentation in his course on marketing strategy (see below). The clips vary from highly produced videos, such as the clip of the consumer in a bank, to profs who sit at their desks with a simple video camera aimed at them.

All of the clips reflect the part of the MBA@UNC program that is “asynchronous,” lecures and cases that have been videotaped and archived on the Internet. This self-paced content takes up about two and one-half hours of work per week. Students also typically take a pair of live, or synchronous, classes a week that each run an hour-and-one-half.

  • The video clips give a good indication of the quality of the online MBA courses, and I believe a lot of people and companies will benefit from this initiative. Online education is ideal for non-traditional adult students, as you can study at your own pace, and select the best courses from around the world, without leaving your home, or physical attending an education institute is not practical.

  • Matt

    That’s true, John.

    By the way, thanks for the website, I enjoy your articles and used the rankings info extensively when I was trying to narrow down school choices. Although I have seen some nasty comments directed towards online MBAs on other articles here, to each his own I suppose, and sometimes MBAs can be a prickly lot. 😉

    I am on pins and needles waiting for your new ranking (later this month I think). Interested to see how Kenan-Flagler will do – we took little hits on USN and BW, which I guess will carry the most weight, but we placed high on Forbes as well as posting gains on FT and The Economist. I wonder how being an early adopter/pioneer of this online format will play out for the school in the long run. Do you have any thoughts?

  • JohnAByrne

    Thanks for sharing your perspective. You make a very valuable point. I agree that students who do an online degree need to be self-motivated and have a great deal of discipline. It’s something that can be missed by a lot of applicants. There are some big advantages to quality online programs, primarily the ability to keep one’s job and the flexibility of attending class. But it would be hard to seize those advantages if you aren’t really motivated to do so.

  • Matt

    Hi John,

    I am a brand new MBA@UNC student (just started in October). The videos are all very representative of my experiences, and I think the program has been excellent so far. I don’t know about the greater population, but I do work with a bunch of MBAs from full-time Top ~ 5 – 40 schools, and they all think the program is exciting and are very supportive of me doing it.

    As you mentioned, it would be good if you also had a clip from a synchronous session, ie what most people will call the classroom environment. Classes are capped at 15 students, and they are held in Adobe Connect meetings rooms, with everyone on webcam. The teacher can share PowerPoints, spreadsheets, notes and etc. The whole thing works very well.

    That being said, we do certainly spend plenty of time in “self-learning”. If you are not personally motivated, I would not recommend the program, because you certainly won’t learn everything you need to know in the synchronous sessions. Above all else, this has taken a tremendous amount of time management to juggle work, family, and school commitments.

    I can’t comment on the Immersions yet, since my first one is in December. Everyone signs up for a specific “track” and at least in my case, there is some pre-work involved in preparing for the visit.

    They are taking us all to the UNC vs Davidson basketball game, which I think is an awesome gesture and really helps get me into the Tar Heel spirit. I did get to visit Chapel Hill as a prospective student, and had a tour of the campus. Got a picture of my son and I drinking from the well and everything.. I can’t wait to go back!