The MOOC Revolution: How To Earn An Elite MBA For Free

by Jeff Schmitt on

 A COMPLETE CORE MBA CURRICULUM IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR FREE FROM ELITE SCHOOLS

Just take a look at this list of core MBA courses (along with the available MOOCs that cover this content):

  • Corporate Finance (Ross / Intro To Finance or Wharton / Intro to Corporate Finance)
  • Financial Accounting (Wharton / An Introduction To Financial Accounting)
  • Economics  (Caltech / Principles of Economics With Calculus)
  • Business Strategy (Darden / Foundations of Business Strategy)
  • Statistical Analysis (Princeton / Statistics I)
  • Marketing Principles (Wharton / An Introduction To Marketing)
  • Organizational Theory and Behavior (Stanford / Organizational Analysis)
  • Operations Management (Wharton / An Introduction To Operations Management)

In other words, you can now take the foundational MBA curriculum from the leading institutions for free. And that doesn’t count all dozens of elective courses available in areas like finance, marketing, and sustainability (far more electives, in fact, than would be available in a pricey Executive MBA program). So is this worth considering?

Let’s take a look at the advantages (besides not paying tuition). Face it: No one cares where you earned a degree once you get your foot in the door and prove yourself. Completing your MBA requirements via MOOCs shows employers that you’re a disciplined, forward-thinking first adopter who has the self-control to be trusted to work on your own. With MOOC drop-out rates hovering around 90%, your approach also demonstrates that you possess the grit to survive difficult circumstances.

STUDY WITH A NOBEL PRIZE WINNER AND OTHER SUPERSTAR PROFESSORS

And disregard that quaint notion that MOOCs are watered down curriculum. Leading institutions are using their teaching and research stars – not adjuncts or TAs – in their MOOCs. At Yale, Nobel Prize winner Robert Shiller is conducting a MOOC on Financial Markets in February. Similarly, Columbia Professor Jeffrey Sachs, who moonlights as a Special Advisor to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, is holding a MOOC on Sustainability beginning in January.

online-mbaWhy? First, the best teachers are usually the most innovative and passionate faculty members. And MOOCs are the new frontier in education. They bring together thousands of students from around the world – more students than professors might reach in years of teaching. And MOOCs are still in their infancy with plenty of room for growth. Who wouldn’t a forward-thinking professor not want to be part of such a ground-breaking educational trend? What’s more, institutions realize that MOOCs are a way to show their best face to the world. They are a vehicle to build brand and attract students to programs. As a result schools are taking extra pains to make sure these courses work. Bottom line: You will probably receive higher quality instruction on a MOOC than in a classroom environment. And that gives you another advantage over your brick-and-mortar peers.

And you can enjoy all of these benefits without quitting your job, losing two years of work experience, and shelling out six figures for tuition. In fact, you won’t even need to study for your GMAT, pony up for consultant, or face those daunting odds of getting into a top 10 business school. And you can start your MBA immediately from home, rather than uprooting your life and waiting for the fall. Plus, you’ll interact with students from around the world, mastering an educational medium conducive to life-long learning. Imagine adding a page to your resume, listing courses and completion dates alongside names like “Wharton” or “Stanford.” It stands out. And it suggests that you can succeed at the highest levels.

One more benefit: If you can’t find a MOOC for a particular area, you can always take a paid brick-and-mortar or online course at some institution (or enroll with Udemy, whose course prices range from $19-$500).

THE DOWNSIDE OF FREE CLASSES: NO SKIN IN THE GAME

Obviously, there are drawbacks? You won’t be able to flaunt your GPA. If you struggle with English, you won’t find many courses with foreign language subtitles on Coursera or edX. Despite message boards and interactive discussions, MOOCs still lack that face-to-face give-and-take that facilitates learning, particularly when case studies are involved. In a class of hundreds (or thousands), you’ll probably receive little personalized attention or support. And just being on your own is difficult. It takes a lot of drive to complete assignments and tests. Without structure, it is easy to lose interest, particularly when free classes mean you have no skin in the game. What’s more, MOOCs put you at the mercy of technology. Despite their earnest efforts, professors are still adapting to teaching out of a studio.

Most important, MOOCs can’t deliver the real draws of business school: The network and internship. Theoretically, MOOCs can give you the tools to run circles around your more pedigreed peers. But their internship opportunity and alumni network will give them a huge head start (even if you keep working). Fair or not, degrees matter. Without certification from a renowned educational brand, few employers will trust that you’ve mastered advanced coursework.

So should you make the plunge? That’s up to you. But consider this: In 2014, Harvard will join Wharton in making foundational MBA courses available online. With that, you can expect a MOOC arms race to ensue among the top business schools. Internationally, FutureLearn, the United Kingdom’s answer to  Coursera, is working with more-and-more schools to add their business school courses online. And India’s EduKart is growing rapidly too. Now, student reviews of MOOC courses are available online via Coursetalk, enabling you to compare course fit and quality. Even if you don’t want to take a full course, there are plenty of tutorials available to help MBA candidates. The Khan Academy and Eduson are just two examples. In short, the pace has accelerated, as more courses are being launched every month. As institutions grow more comfortable with the technology and pedagogy, the quality can only improve. And even if the classes you want aren’t around, be patient and stick around. They’re certain to become available soon enough.

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  • http://www.nopaymba.com Laurie Pickard

    That’s great! I am actually beginning to put together a group of people taking business MOOCs to track our learning together. Let me know if you’d be interested.

  • John

    You are struggling to express this via language because you are missing the point – you are being fooled by the conman (article author).

    Btw, you do realize that if the academic oligarchy implode then so will these MOOC’s. That ironically makes for an implosion of knowledge in general. No wonder you can not express your opinion via what you call a deficient English language. Oh, the irony.

  • John

    What is the relevance to your “being a South African” ?

  • http://FreedomFiles.Info/ FactsNotFallacies

    “Btw, you do realize that if the academic oligarchy implode then so will these MOOC’s.”

    Nope. As sites like Udacity have demonstrated, MOOC’s do not need to rely on existing universities to be of use to people in the job market.

    Something about your comment tells me you’ve wasted your time on a degree that you are now trying to justify as worthwhile.

  • Lalitha Bashyam Krishna

    As a woman from India where woman is not allowed to complete her higher studies as per her choice, I wish to take an International Executive MBA from my home country without having to spend money since it is not affordable. for me. Therefore I request to know more about the various options available for getting an International MBA to upgrade my knowledge and career.

  • http://FreedomFiles.Info/ FactsNotFallacies

    MOOCs need not depend on present academia. As sites like Udacity have rightfully demonstrated.

    Someone with a small imagination like yours would no doubt have trouble understanding why there is nothing present day universities do that can’t be achieved through more efficient means.

    This is the 21st century.

  • Mike

    it’s something for employers to look at on your resume that shows you still have an interest for learning; while learning new information and gaining knowledge. an MBA is only a title; it’s the thought that counts

  • John

    You do realise that MOOC courses are on university-level subject matter from university faculty.
    Udacity does not offer anything new of different than most other universities. In fact, Udacity only remove the social and real world interaction with teachers and fellow students and then charge for it – Udacity is selling what it calls a “course experience” version of all classes @~$150/month. Therefore Udacity does not provide free MOOCs at all, nor do they allow their MOOC’s to be freely distributed for re-useit, they merely provide a a platform and charge for it. The history of MOOCs far pre-dates the Udacity, edX and Coursera platforms. These 3 companies has to work hard to attract students and Coursera and edX charges money for certificates for their courses (like universities). Udacity ONLY has 38 active courses in its catalog, pontificating Udacity is better than universities is living in denialism mars. And the irnony is that university visiting teachers and a few industry people (that are university educated) work with Udacity to create the MOOC content! The courses are mostly “freshman year” courses, and very few, if any post grad or 3rd year courses.

    MOOC.s are dependent on present academics and on platform provides are after YOUR money as Udacity and the likes have demonstrated.

    I think the conman has sold to the fool in this 21st century. Which one is you?

  • John

    Are you selling Udacity?
    Udacity has demonstrated that they can provide a platform to offer some free and paid courses. Courses are developed by university teachers or university educated trainers.

    Something about your comments tells me that you are offering an ad hominem to try and justify not countering my previous post content. I really hope this is not what you got from a MOOC!!

  • http://FreedomFiles.Info/ FactsNotFallacies

    I sure *wish* I could get paid to point out the obvious. :-)

    “Courses are developed by university teachers or university educated trainers.”

    Even if that were 100% accurate, it’s circular reasoning to claim that they cannot perform the same functions independent of universities.

    I did counter your previous comment. You have relied exclusively on circular reasoning to claim that no post-secondary training can possibly exist without the bloated higher-ed system we have now.

  • John

    “Even if that were 100% accurate, it’s circular reasoning to claim that
    they cannot perform the same functions independent of universities.”

    You were the one claiming that they do already when you wrote =
    “As sites like Udacity have demonstrated, MOOC’s do not need to rely on existing universities to be of use to people in the job market.” =

    Therefore, you have the burden of proof/evidence. You must be new to critical thinking because your post is full of dichotomies and informal logical fallacies. You are the one that needs to demonstrate/argue that your Udacity or any other MOOC based platform “… need not depend on present academia” because it is YOUR CLAIM.

    Your last comment is littered with an assertion fallacy. Repeating it is not living up to your burden of proof, it is highlighting your ignoramus.

    My prediction would be that you must have taken one of these “primitive freshman” university developed paid uncredited MOOC courses because you are clearly rejecting logic in favor of your false beliefs.

    You do realize that MOOC courses are on entry level university-level subject matters from university faculties. Or suppose to be, right?
    Udacity does not offer anything new of different than most other universities. In fact, Udacity only remove the social real world interaction with teachers & fellow students and then charge for it – Udacity is selling what it calls a “course experience” version of all classes @~$150/month. Therefore Udacity does not provide free MOOCs at all, nor do they allow their MOOC’s to be freely distributed for re-useit, they merely provide a a platform and charge for it. The history of MOOCs far pre-dates the Udacity, edX and Coursera platforms. These 3 companies has to work hard to attract students and Coursera and edX charges money for certificates for their courses (like universities). Udacity ONLY has 38 active courses in its catalog – so pontificating that Udacity is better than universities is living in denialism cookoo land. And the irony is that visiting university teachers and a some industry people (that are university educated) work with Udacity to create the MOOC content! The courses are mostly “freshman year” courses, and very few, if any post grad or 3rd year courses.

    MOOC’s are dependent on present academics and on platform provides that are after YOUR money – Udacity and the likes have demonstrated this clearly.

    I think the conman has sold poo to the fool in this 21st century masquerading it a new and shiny gold. Which one is you – conman or fool? So far all you provided was FallaciesNotFacts. You can your handle mixed up due to a broken reason filter that lets the rubbish get through. You probably adopted your reason filter and you or the adopted filter has been install for so long you do not even realize it is broken. That is ok, but it should give you an agtung pause if you are serious about the foundations of your false beliefs.

  • John

    If no one is advertising a free elite MBA, why did you write an aticle titled “She’s Doing An Elite MBA For Under
    $1,000″ and an opening paragraph “will earn her MBA in three years for
    less than $1,000″?
    Why would Laurie’s website read: www [dot] nopaymba [dot] com. and she posts repeated
    responses here defending it mentioning words such as “No-Pay MBA”?
    Why are you refusing to show my posts that I respond to you? Are you trying to deny objective facts by silencing my content?

  • John

    “Even if that were 100% accurate, it’s circular reasoning to claim that
    they cannot perform the same functions independent of universities.”

    You were the one claiming that they do already when you wrote =
    “As sites like Udacity have demonstrated, MOOC’s do not need to rely on existing universities to be of use to people in the job market.” =

    Therefore, you have the burden of proof/evidence. You must be new to critical thinking because your post is full of dichotomies and informal logical fallacies. You are the one that needs to demonstrate/argue that your Udacity or any other MOOC based platform “… need not depend on present academia” because it is YOUR CLAIM.

    Your last comment is littered with an assertion fallacy. Repeating it is not living up to your burden of proof, it is highlighting your ignoramus.

    My prediction would be that you must have taken one of these “primitive freshman” university developed paid uncredited MOOC courses because you are clearly rejecting logic in favor of your false beliefs.

    You do realize that MOOC courses are on entry level university-level subject matters from university faculties. Or suppose to be, right?
    Udacity does not offer anything new of different than most other universities.
    In fact, Udacity only remove the social real world interaction with
    teachers & fellow students and then charge for it – Udacity is
    selling what it calls a “course experience” version of all classes
    @~$150/month. Therefore Udacity does not provide free MOOCs at all, nor do they allow their MOOC’s to be freely distributed for re-useit, they merely provide a a platform and charge for it. The history of MOOCs far pre-dates the Udacity, edX and Coursera platforms. These 3 companies has to work hard to attract students and Coursera and edX charges money for certificates for their courses (like universities). Udacity ONLY has 38 active courses in its catalog – so pontificating that Udacity is better than universities is living in denialism cookoo land. And the irony is that visiting university teachers and a some industry people (that are university educated) work with Udacity to create the MOOC content! The courses are mostly “freshman year” courses, and very few, if any post grad or 3rd year courses.

    MOOC’s are dependent on present academics and on platform provides that are after YOUR money – Udacity and the likes have demonstrated this clearly.

    I think the conman has sold poo to the fool in this 21st century masquerading it a new and shiny gold. Which one is you – conman or fool? So far all you provided was FallaciesNotFacts. You can your handle mixed up due to a broken reason filter that lets the rubbish get through. You probably adopted your reason filter and you or the adopted filter has been install for so long you do not even realize it is broken. That is ok, but it should give you an agtung pause if you are serious about the foundations of your false beliefs.

    Want another go?

  • http://FreedomFiles.Info/ FactsNotFallacies

    “You were the one claiming that they do already when you wrote…”

    Which Udacity does demonstrate. There’s nothing they do that either isn’t or can’t be done independently from traditional universities.

    “You must be new to critical thinking because your post is full of dichotomies and informal logical fallacies.”

    Such as?

    “You are the one that needs to demonstrate/argue that your Udacity or any other MOOC based platform “… need not depend on present academia” because it is YOUR CLAIM.”

    And it’s YOUR claim that colleges are entirely necessary to do everything they are doing. All you have you do is give an example of a service they currently provide that would collapse in the absence of university influence.

    “Your last comment is littered with an assertion fallacy. Repeating it is not living up to your burden of proof, it is highlighting your ignoramus.”

    And that comment is entirely a straw man laced with an ad hominem. Engaging in that is not making you any more persuasive. Name one thing Udacity does that MUST depend on a university institution in some way. So far all their Nano degrees will capable of being done without them so I don’t see why anyone should assume universities are critical to make a MOOC work.

    “My prediction would be that you must have taken one of these “primitive freshman” university developed paid uncredited MOOC courses because you are clearly rejecting logic in favor of your false beliefs.”

    Well you’ve predicted wrong. Currently I have gone for my Comptia A+, Network+, Security+, and GSEC certifications. All taken without the need for any traditional institution of higher education.

    So yes, with my positive experience with those I am a little biased towards the idea that college is the *ONLY* way to train students for practical skills after they’ve completed high school. MOOCs are no different, the upcoming Nanodegrees are direct evidence of this.

    “You do realize that MOOC courses are on entry level university-level subject matters from university faculties. Or suppose to be, right?”

    Not anymore. I’ll mention the Nanodegrees as much as necessary to drive this point home.

    In fact, that’s the only example I need to rebut what you said in the rest of that paragraph.

    “MOOC’s are dependent on present academics and on platform provides that are after YOUR money – Udacity and the likes have demonstrated this clearly.”

    Get with the times man. From the recent NYT piece on Nanodegrees:

  • John

    —”Which Udacity does demonstrate. There’s nothing they do that either
    isn’t or can’t be done independently from traditional universities.”—–

    Repeating your assertion fallacy with circular reasoning is merely begging the question.
    You need to back up your claim that Udacity MOOC’s do not need to rely on existing universities. That would be hard for you since Udacity was founded by the Stanford professor and former Google engineering whiz Sebastian Thrun. But please keep on digging your hole deeper. It is your hole, a whole round one it seems.

    You wrote:
    —- “And it’s YOUR claim that colleges are entirely necessary to do everything they are doing.” —–

    I find it incredible when people claim to know my beliefs without me stating it. How do you do this? Trying to shift the burden using ropes made of assertion fallacies pained in false beliefs must be stifling for you. How do you do it is beyond me!

    ——-”All you have you do is give an example of a service they currently
    provide that would collapse in the absence of university influence.” —

    But I have, you chose to ignore it. Besides, it is not my claim, but yours, even-though I have shown that your absurd claim is grounded in wishful thinking already. You missed it, and still do. Oh, the irony!

    —–”Name one thing Udacity does that MUST depend on a university institution in some way.” —–

    Sure, easy: The university model that you so despise. But wait, here is more and some I already mentioned:
    -Its founder’s university level education.
    -Money (operational costs), not all of Udacity’s MOOC’s or platforms are free.
    -University educated teachers and university educated industry trainers for setting up & building the courses.
    -Students have no real life interaction with other students or the lecturer.
    -No real industry accepted accreditation. Even Nanodegrees are done WITH OTHER COMPANIES.
    -The courses itself needs to be comparative (in name and content and lecturer proficiency) to university courses or else they are useless.
    -Want more? Ironically you can not even live up to the burden of your claim, yet it is easy for me to show your claim patently absurdly easily ridiculously false. And you do not even get it!

    Companies like Udacity is just there to ride the wave of money in education.

    —-”So yes, with my positive experience with those I am a little biased
    towards the idea that college is the *ONLY* way to train students for
    practical skills after they’ve completed high school. MOOCs are no
    different, the upcoming Nanodegrees are direct evidence of this.”—-

    Changing your tune now? Interesting dichotomy or is that a full cognitive dissonance?
    Now that you can not live up to your burden of evidence you are confusing information with evidence. Udacity’s Nanodegrees is evidence that it needs universities and their accreditation. Something that you claim is not needed. Please stop rejecting logic in favor of your absurd false beliefs.

    —–”Not anymore. I’ll mention the Nanodegrees as much as necessary to drive this point home”——

    Claims Claims. More claims from you with no substance. Are you for real?

    The only thing that your NYT piece says is that you are wrong. It says clearly “it’s like a university”, but you deny this by claiming “… need not depend on present academia”.

    Your own evidence that you think supports your claim is actually saying exactly the opposite.

    Please start evidencing your claims or I stop replying. Your choice.

  • John

    Why would a Philosorcerer acknowledge anything outside the all encompassing Philononsense is astonishing. If that point is wrong then it renders itself accurate.

    Welcome to the real world.

  • John

    MOOCs are really freshman entry level courses.
    MOOCs remove the social real world interaction with teachers & fellow students and then charge for it if you want it.
    There are very few MOOC courses available – you need to assemble them self to make up a full 3 year course.
    You do not get any accreditation, no degree, so who will acknowledge you so called studies?
    There is hardly any homework for MOOC courses.
    There is hardly any exams for MOOC courses – multiple choice comes to mind and take it as often as you like till it says pass. Oh dear.

    You mas as well buy a had copy book on the subject you are interested in and then read the book. MOOC differs in that – In stead of you reading the book, MOOC presents a person on a video reading it for you. This is nothing new, no need to get all excited. It’s for the lazy person, and it’s an opportunity for companies to make money off the lazy person. The irony is that the lazy person needs to find the appropriate MOOC course and then also convince industry that says MOOCs courses are worth anything and that it was really completed. Seems like the only good that comes form MOOC is that is makes the lazy person work, and makes money for the company that hosts the MOOC platform.

    This ludicrousness is ridiculous.

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