WHAT THEY WILL LEARN
The curriculum for the new Questrom online MBA will be classified into five modules. Students won’t be taught in marketing, finance, analytics; instead they will hone abilities that the school considers indispensable to work and lead in global business: leading with integrity; creating a socially responsible business in the digital age; developing an innovative mindset; pursuing a global business opportunity; and learning data-driven decision making.
“These are five capabilities that you need to develop to be an empowered leader on the global stage — and they are capabilities, as opposed to what the classic MBA is: ‘OK, it’s time for the core, you’re going to have a course in accounting, now you’re going to have a course in finance, now you’re gonna have a course in marketing.’ We’re saying, ‘No, it’s five capabilities. You need to know how to have an innovative mindset. You need to know how to lead with integrity. You need to know how to make data-driven decisions. You need to know how to be a socially responsible and aware business.’ You know, it’s not just shareholder value maximization anymore.”
A design team composed of Questrom faculty developed the structure for the curriculum by leveraging insights from consumer and market research, as well as the Boston University Questrom Business Education Jam 2.0, a series of conferences about the future of business education held in ten countries with over 3,000 executives and academics. Key themes include digital transformation, the social role of business, and entrepreneurship, but faculty will regularly develop the program’s themes and delivery methods.
It’s teaching with a “strong point of view,” Fournier says, and it extends to the smallest detail of the program. “We’ve made a strong point of view built on what we learned in our research to say these are the modules,” she says. “We are then putting together content inside those modules that integrates across all relevant disciplines. So for example, if you’re going to be in the innovation module, you’re not going to have a marketing class and an IT class and a stretch. You’re going to have everything you need to be able to advance the innovation mission of an organization.
“We’re walking away from the constraints of a standard class that’s 14 weeks long with one professor that delivers content for 17 weeks. We can have 20 different people in that module. We can have alumni delivering components in that module. We can have notable business professionals delivering in that module. And it’s all integrated in a way that you would never be able to pull off in a standard program.”
And there are no electives. “This is what you need to have,” Fournier says. “You take these five mods, they’re in sequence, you go from one to one and you are done. You’re ready. So that’s the other big thing about our program that is very strongly differentiated from our on-campus programs.”
EDX GROWS INTO ROLE AS ONE OF THE PREMIER ONLINE EDUCATION PLATFORMS
The edX platform has more than 21 million registered users, representing every country in the world, who have enrolled in more than 75 million courses. It is best known as a platform for MOOCs, massive open online courses, offering more than 2,000 from 140 schools, usually for free. Last fall, though, edX offered its first 10 master’s degree programs, including a master’s in computer science from the University of Texas-Austin and a master’s in analytics from the Georgia Institute of Technology. “Our learners kept asking for more,” says Anant Agarwal, edX CEO. Typical edX learners have undergraduate degrees and are “looking to upskill,” he adds; the new master’s programs are meeting or exceeding target enrollment — the analytics program currently has 3,000 enrollees.
EdX also has been making waves with its MicroMasters programs, a series of graduate-level courses from top universities that provide deep learning in a specific career field. The platform offers dozens of them, including a MIT course in supply chain management and a course in business management from the Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore. As Fournier says, the edX platform is “uniquely suited to engage and connect students across borders and time zones to solve complex problems facing multinational business.”
Offering a full MBA, then, is the logical next step. Applicants can even work their way into the new MBA through one of edX’s MicroMasters.
“We are delighted to announce that the first online MBA program available on edX is from Boston University Questrom School of Business,” Agarwal says. “This world-class program is available to learners around the globe at a disruptive price point. Our partnership with Boston University is rooted in a shared commitment to furthering innovation in education. BU was one of the first edX partners to launch groundbreaking MicroMasters programs in Digital Product Management and Digital Leadership and this latest announcement builds on that innovation, launching a fully online MBA program that offers learners the option to start with a MicroMasters program that can count toward their full master’s degree.
“This launch marks the latest milestone in creating stackable, affordable, and accessible online master’s degrees in subjects that address today’s global skill gaps.”
‘THE TIME HAS COME AGAIN TO EXPAND OUR PORTFOLIO’
Hopes are high as Boston Questrom undertakes this new path.
“Throughout our 105-year history, the school has introduced iterations of the MBA to address unique segments of business learners,” Fournier says. “The time has come again to expand our portfolio, using new technologies to reach the global online segment.”
Adds Jean Morrison, BU provost and chief academic officer: “This is a critical capability for us to develop, going into a time when the higher education landscape is disrupted by increasing opportunities for students to get certificates and degrees online.”
BU President Robert A. Brown offers a final word: “We’ve recognized the transformative potential of edX for some time. With the online MBA, we’re seizing the initiative to offer a major degree for which we believe there is global demand. Higher education must evolve in a fast-changing world. We aim to lead in this evolution.”