‘NOT EVERYONE WHO SIGNS UP CAN GET THROUGH. IT HAS TO BE AN ACCOMPLISHMENT’
“It is a credential program,” says Anand. “We thought hard about that. It’s not about a piece of paper. It has to have a reputation of being hard. Not everyone who signs up can get through. It has to be an accomplishment. It’s got to mean something. So we will build a transcript and hand out grades.”
Kierstead said HBS decided that the “first wave” of students would be limited to those living in Massachusetts so “we can be more hands-on. This is a learning cycle for us. Wave two will be in the fall and we will ramp up very quickly.” HBS will make available an online application for the program in early-to-mid April. Candidates will be required to upload a transcript of their undergraduate courses and grades and complete an essay to an undisclosed prompt.
“We want this to be accessible but we want serious learners only. The sweet spot is rising juniors and seniors,” says Moon. HBS will make financial aid available on an as need basis. The $1,500 inaugural cost of the program will likely rise, though Harvard is not saying by how much. The school also declined to say how much it has already invested in HBX or how many online students it ultimately expects to have.
FUTURE PROGRAMS WILL LIKELY BE DELIVERED IN CHINESE & SPANISH
HBS said that in the future it will likely offer the program in other languages such as Portuguese, Spanish and Chinese. For now, however, it will only be available in English.
A second set of offerings on the HBX platform–with a launch of late spring in 2014–will be a portfolio of classes on such topics as entrepreneurship and innovation, the microeconomics of competitiveness, and disruptive innovation, growth, and strategy.
As if that is not enough, during the summer of this year, HBS plans to open a virtual classroom that combines digital and physical elements and allows participants worldwide to interact with one another and a faculty member in the same way they would in a campus-based HBS class. In partnership with WGBH, the school has developed a state-of-the-art studio that it plans to use to engage with alumni and to “complement and enhance” its on-campus offerings, including HBS’ lucrative exec ed programs.
“The world is divided into segments of people who have a hunger for business education,” says Moon. “In every one of those segments, we want to make a difference. We want to be a leader.”
With 32 full-time staffers behind this initiative and millions of dollars, it’s doubtful that HBS will be anything other than a leader in the digital delivery of business education.