The great pandemic pivot demonstrated to many business schools the viability of online instruction — by necessity at first, and later by choice. A full embrace is now underway, an evolution that grew by one today (November 16) when another elite B-school announced a significant foray into the digital space: NYU Stern School of Business will launch an online option in its part-time MBA program beginning in the fall of 2022, the school has announced, for which applications are open immediately.
“We live in a world in which the norms and needs of organizations and the professionals who work for them continue to evolve, often with great speed,” says Raghu Sundaram, Stern’s dean. “We recognize that one size does not fit all and hope to be giving students more innovative ways to customize their MBA experience.”
The new online/modular option is being launched within Stern’s existing part-time MBA program. Its classes of working professional students will complete a portion of the program online and a portion at Stern’s New York City campus, with all students taking the MBA core online and customizing their elective portion.
STERN AIMS TO PRESERVE THE NYC EXPERIENCE
Customization will occur in a variety of ways, including through new in-person intensive modules, says JP Eggers, Stern’s vice dean of MBA and graduate programs, who stresses that the new option “is not an online MBA program but rather a new option that blends the best of both online and in-person learning at our campus in New York City.”
Students may complete their electives through a combination of the following: new one-week intensive in-person modules in New York City at Stern; a range of online elective courses, including some of our most popular electives; and taking existing in-person courses at Stern on weeknights or Saturdays in NYC.
“We specifically designed this option to combine the added convenience and flexibility of some online courses with the ability to easily access NYC for in-person courses,” Eggers tells Poets&Quants. “We have intentionally set up the option to be a hybrid of online and in-person because we believe that coming to New York City and taking some of the classes on campus is an integral component of the NYU Stern MBA experience.
“Working professional students who choose this new Online/Modular option will do the core curriculum online and then have flexibility around how they choose to customize the elective portion of their experience. We’d expect that students in this option may choose to enroll in about 60% up to about 75% of the overall MBA coursework online.”
Each semester, Stern will have about 10 to 15 different electives available online, Eggers says, “providing students with choices on how to complete the program.” Students will also have the opportunity to take electives in person via Stern’s existing part-time MBA classes as well, Eggers adds; the eventual number of online electives will depend on the overall size of the option over time.
“And of course, a central part of this new option is the introduction of our unique, new, one-week intensive modules to enable students to easily access in-person classes in New York,” Eggers says.
A DAM THAT IS ABOUT TO BREAK
Every business school had to establish an online MBA presence in March 2020. But Stern’s move makes it the third-highest-ranking B-school with a permanent online component after the University of Michigan, which launched a part-time online MBA in 2019, and the University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business, which will enroll its first cohort in the new “Flex” part-time online MBA in the fall of 2022. Michigan Ross celebrated its first online MBA graduates this year.
The top five programs – Stanford, Chicago Booth, Wharton, Harvard, and Northwestern Kellogg – “have yet to even publicly express an interest in launching an online version of their MBA programs,” as P&Q reported last month. “Nonetheless, a new survey of more than 80 business schools deans finds that 61% anticipate that a Top 5-ranked business school will offer a fully online MBA within the next one to two years. The percentage soars to 89% when the timeframe moves to three to four years.”
Surveyed deans believe that disruptively priced online MBA programs, such as those currently offered by the University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business for $22,500 and Boston University’s Questrom School of Business for $24,000, “are here to stay and will prove to be a sustainable business model for some players,” P&Q reported October 25. “Fully half of the responding deans believe these under-$25,000 MBA programs will continue to proliferate and will ultimately represent a large portion of the online MBA market.”
NO PLANS FOR FULLY ONLINE OFFERING
NYU Stern is not there yet — as JP Eggers says, the new online option in the Langone part-time program is “not an online MBA.” The school has “no current plans” to launch a fully online offering, he adds. But Stern still gets to boast that it beat all those top-five schools to the punch.
In the new offering, the majority of the online core courses will be taught “live” online for real-time interaction with faculty and classmates. Each core online class will meet once a week on weeknights from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. EST, with the remaining course content covered through videos, exercises, and readings that can be done at any time that suits a student’s schedule.
“The courses will be redesigned for a blend of synchronous (live) and asynchronous (recorded) learning, though the exact balance will vary by course, we anticipate the majority of the classroom experience will be ‘live,'” Eggers tells P&Q. “As an example of the need to redesign, while our normal (in-person) courses run 6-9 p.m. for part-time MBA students, courses in this option will run from 7-9 p.m. with the additional content being made up through asynchronous content. Initially, not every course will fit that model, but that is the goal for all courses.” He adds that the ability to complete one-week intensive modules as well as mix and match other elective course formats provides students with a greater range of course offerings, specializations and experiences than can be offered solely by any one format for elective courses.
Students can select the online/modular option on their application, which opened today (November 16) for the fall 2022 program start. The first of five different modules are planned to begin in Fall 2023, with more planned over time, after the inaugural intake of online/modular option students completes their online core. Modules are planned to be available in December, January, March, June, and July, with one to two modules available during each period. Online/modular option students can also participate in extracurricular activities such as student government, clubs, and student events, “and leverage services from the Career Center for Working Professionals which has been holding coaching appointments both in person and online. Online/modular students should note that many of these activities and services are only available live and in person versus online or remotely.”
“While this new option is driven in part by student requests for online access to classes, the real underlying driver is the clear change in the external environment being created by the evolution of how people work and learn,” Eggers says. “Flexibility is no longer just a nice benefit, but an essential need for working professionals. So we’re building on our program’s track record of flexible options given that students already can go through the part-time MBA program on Saturdays, weeknights or through an accelerated two-year path.”