Breakthrough: A Top 50 MBA For $20,000

AS MANY AS EIGHT SPECIALIZATIONS THAT CAN BE TAKEN BY STUDENTS TO START THE PROGRAM

So far, the school has a specialization in digital marketing that includes a series of three courses along with a capstone project. Some 80,000 student learners have registered for the first digital marketing course of the sequence. Later this month, Illinois will offer a course managerial accounting, part of business process and operations specialization. Over the next two years, the school plans to roll out eight specializations. They will include:

Strategic Management

o    Business Strategy

o    Marketing Strategy

o    Global Strategy

Leadership and Management

o    Executive Leadership

o    Designing and Managing Organizations

o    Fostering Creative Thinking (2 credits)

o    Strategic Human Capital (2 credits)

Business Tools for Successful Execution

o    Business Statistics

o    Firm-level Economics

o    Financial Accounting

Improving Business Finances and Operations

o    Managerial Accounting

o    Corporate Finance

o    Process Management

Business Environments and Corporate Responsibility

o    Country Level Economics

o    Global Business Horizons

o    Business Ethics and Corporate Responsibility

Entrepreneurship and Innovation

o    Investments

o    Entrepreneurship and Corporate renewal

o    Strategic Innovation Management

These courses carry college credit, and cost around $3,000 per specialization, or $1,000 per course. To finish the iMBA, a student must complete at least six specializations. Applications for admission to the iMBA program open in June with a deadline of August for admission in the spring of 2016. The school says that a student’s success in the specializations in the program will be considered a factor in admission.

THE ONLINE MBA JOURNEY WAS STARTED BY THE SCHOOL’S BUSINESS COUNCIL OVER A YEAR AGO

The decision to launch the iMBA, approved May 4th by the university’s Academic Senate, is the result of more than a year-long soul searching exercise that started with the dean’s business council in March of 2014. “They rated this a priority,” explains Eschambadi.”They felt that the university needed to become relevant in the non-degree space as well. We had two major holes: the online degree and the online non-degree.”

A faculty task force was put together in April of 2014 to examine the issue. Among its members were B. Joseph White, President Emeritus of the university and a professor of management, Avijid Ghosh, the former dean of the College of Business, Jon Davis, who leads the school’s accounting department, and Jeff Brown, a professor finance.

During the group’s discussions, Eschambadi says “there were no controversies per se, but earlier we had a discussion over whether we should have a master’s program rather than an MBA. The task force wanted us to do an MBA, and we didn’t want to merely import our existing program online. We wanted to start using the technology in the right way to break down the typical silos in a business school.”

The deliberations led to the idea that rather than teach business by discipline it would structure the MBA program around core integrated themes taught by professors from different disciplines. The faculty then worked to re-define business subject areas so that they’re not confined to the way B-schools or universities are organized. Online MBA programs typically translate the usual content into online format. Illinois attempted to use the iMBA as an opportunity to rethink what kinds of courses, expertise and disciplines are relevant to business leaders, says Eschambadi.

Since the courses are coming from a major university, credits are fully transferrable. A student in another graduate program, business or not, can take a course through Illinois/Coursera and use those credits toward their home-institution degree.

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About the Author...

John A. Byrne

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.