ESMT Berlin Enters The Online MBA Market With A $30,000 MBA

EMST Berlin

Add yet another major competitor to the online MBA market. ESMT Berlin today (March 4) announced that is launching a global online MBA program with a highly disruptive price tag of just $30,000. The German business school will welcome its first online class this fall. 

The school is entering a European online market where the dominant players are Spain’s IE Business School, the first school in Europe to launch an online MBA, as well as Britain’s Warwick Business School and Imperial College Business School in London.

ESMT is substantially undercutting those rival online programs, in one case by more than half. IE Business School’s online global MBA currently has a price tag of IE €51,200 ($61,667), while Imperial is charging €48,020 ($39,870) and Warwick is priced at €39,660 ($32,930). Imperial’s online offering is the first international program to gain a ranking from Poets&Quants.

In entering the online learning space for degrees, the school is hoping to capitalize on the growing interest in online MBAs at more affordable prices. The University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business was an early disrupter in the market by offering an iMBA degree for just $22,000. It quickly became the fastest growing MBA in the world. Gies’ program has gone from zero in 2016 when it was launched to some 4,000 students last fall.  Boston University’s $24,000 online MBA program, launched in August of last year, already has enrolled more than 800 online students in its first two intakes.


Though ESMT Berlin has put a €25,000 euros ($30,000) price tag on the new program, the school is offering what it calls an “early-bird” discount of €2,000 ($2,410) for applications filed by June 1 for the inaugural September 2021 intake and by Jan. 10, 2020, for the second intake in May of 2022. ESMT is also offering an additional 10% discount to students who pay their tuition in full before the program start. 

ESMT Berlin, with a full-time MBA that is ranked 80th by the Financial Times, is going to market with a program that consists of four stackable modules followed by an elective course focusing on technology or innovation and an optional global exchange module.

The 24-month program, which can be stretched over five years, will initially feature two intakes annually in September and May. For additional fees, ESMT Berlin is also offering optional add-ons that include in-person career consulting and an international learning expedition.


Each online course will feature nine hours of live teaching sessions on the Internet in addition to live office hour sessions by ESMT’s faculty. The live courses will be broadcast twice a day to cover global time zones. A voluntary “Berlin Experience Week” that allows students to come to ESMT’s campus to meet in-person will occur mid-way through the program.

One truly unique feature of the new online option is the ability to take an online elective course dubbed “small network online courses” (SNOCs) with partners from the Global Network for Advanced Management, including Yale School of Management, UC-Berkeley Haas, Oxford Said, IMD, IE, Fudan University, as well as 24 other partner schools.

Similar to Boston University’s new $24,000 online MBA program, ESMT has structured its MBA curriculum in modules, starting students off with an opening series on how to make connections and build a trusted network. Each module is based on a theme instead of the more typical MBA format where business is taught by such disciplines as accounting, finance, and marketing. 


Unlike BU’s format, which has attracted a sizable international student body of roughly 28%, ESMT will allow students to pick the individual program modules in any order. After the opening module, the series includes courses under such themes as “making decisions under uncertainty” and “building an organizational strategy.”

One module will consist of an elective from an initial portfolio of seven listed courses that range from entrepreneurship to negotiations or from one of the Global Network’s online offerings.

A final module, module six, is based on a project focusing on business innovation, transformation and new business creation. It It will include a project presentation and an individual analytic paper.


Nick Barniville of ESMT

“If you compare the successful online MBA programs in the U.S. with those in Europe, you realize that the U.S. programs allow for much more flexibility,” says Nick Barniville, associate dean of degree programs and director EdTech Lab at ESMT. “We aim to fill the gap in Europe by creating a fully stackable online MBA program with global options and an opportunity to come to Berlin. Our students can book the individual modules and add-on packages at their convenience. This way, we give participants the chance to put together their very own program in the way that suits them best and charge them only for the program elements they need.”

Applicants for ESMT’s  global online MBA are required to have at least three years of professional experience. GMAT/GRE scores or ESMT’s admissions test are optional for admission, but strongly recommended for non-quant/non-business undergraduates.

The admissions process, with a €50 application fee, includes one essay and a two-minute video essay upload, along with two recommendations. ESMT will then invite candidates for a video interview before making an admit or deny decision. All applicants are expected to have a strong command of the English language or an English proficiency test score of a minimum of 95 for the TOEFL.

The school expects a weekly time commitment from online students of up to 15 hours per week.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.