With September just around the corner, students everywhere are packing their bags and moving into their dorms for the start of another academic year. And so it is with the “optional” student, too, when universities offer up the largest number of online MOOC courses to start in any month of the year.
Last September, for example, Class Central reported that 328 MOOC courses started in the month – an all-time high. With student interest in MOOCs surging – and schools using MOOCs to introduce themselves – you can bet that students will have even more options than they did a year ago. After all, the coming of fall not only signals the end of the summer; it kicks off the back-to-work seriousness of life.
And that’s particularly true with business MOOCs. This September, leading business schools such as Wharton, Stanford, Columbia, MIT, and Michigan are back either with new courses or additional sections of old favorites. Indeed, there is something for everyone this month, with students able to choose from areas like corporate finance, investing, digital marketing, social entrepreneurship, product design and development, leadership, networking, nonprofit management, and decision-making.
As always, these courses are free and they are open to all. If you want a certificate of completion for a taken course, there’s usually a nominal charge of $49. So registering for a MOOC course is a free and painless way to gain specialized knowhow, bone up on basics in your field, or simply expand your intellectual horizons. The general rule of thumb on whether a certificate is worth it? If you’re going to sign up for just a few courses, the certificates are probably good to have so you can prove to an employer you took the course. If your game plan is to take a lot of MOOCs, you can pick and choose which courses you want verification on. After all, no one is going to look over every single certificate for five or more of these courses.
LOTS OF COURSES TO SHARPEN YOUR FINANCE & INVESTING SKILLS
One of our favorites on this month’s list is the University of Michigan’s “Principles of Valuation: Time Value of Money.” This course is being co-taught by Gautam Kaul, whose “Introduction to Finance” was a MOOC pioneer and remains among the standards for any professor looking to launch an massive open online set of classes. Even better, this course is just the first of a four-part series that Kaul will be teaching online with his protégé, Qin Lei, an award-winning teacher in his own right. This series, which will run through March, provides students with the opportunity to earn a specialization in valuation and investing, which will provide an in-depth introduction to bonds, stocks, risk, and CAPM (capital asset pricing model)–a particularly appropriate time to gain a deeper understanding of the markets, given the recent jitters of late.
If you’re looking to sharpen your finance or investment skills, you won’t find a better month than this September. The Wharton School is back with their “Introduction to Corporate Finance” and “Introduction to Financial Accounting” MOOCs, whose brick-and-mortar cousins are part of the school’s vaunted MBA program’s core coursework. IESE Business School in Spain is also running another section of “Corporate Finance Essentials,” taught by Javier Estrada, one of the world’s most acclaimed finance instructors. And the University of Illinois – one of the leading finance and accounting schools – is poised to launch a new MOOC, “Financial Evaluation and Strategy: Corporate Finance.” This online offering is being taught by Heitor Almeida, who has been named “Professor of the Year” by the school’s Executive MBA students for the past two years running.
Looking to start a business or grow it? This month’s offerings cover nearly angle. If you’re focused on maximizing your existing resources, take “Scaling Operations: Linking Strategy and Execution,” a MOOC from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management that helps firms run their supply chain with greater speed, lower cost, and higher impact. At Columbia Business School, Jack McGourty will take you from idea to launch – and point out all the best practices and pitfalls in between – in “New Venture Discovery: From Idea to Minimal Viable Product.” And Stanford’s Chuck Eesley, a serial entrepreneurial, will examine this same process from a high tech context in “Technology Entrepreneurship.”
FOR ENTREPRENEURS, A SLEW OF OFFERINGS TO HELP FIX SOCIAL CHALLENGES
Would you like to use business tools to fix social problems? Check out Philanthropy University’s “Essentials of Nonprofit Strategy.” Taught by a former Stanford Law dean, this course provides the framework for helping managers squeeze the most impact from their precious dollars. Wharton returns with another section of “Social Entrepreneurship,” to help students develop and scale organizations that serve the neediest populations. And Philanthropy University is also teaming up with consulting powerhouse McKinsey & Co. to offer “Organizational Capacity: Assessment to Action,” designed to help entrepreneurs better shape, scale, and replicate their social enterprises.
To learn more about courses like these – and register for them – click on the links below.