Boston University’s Questrom School of Business expects to graduate 308 students from its first online MBA cohort this year. The online grads, more than a third of whom intend to walk during May commencement, reflect a 94.8% graduation rate.
Questrom’s online MBA, with a disruptive price tag of $24,000, launched two years ago with 392 students, nearly double the initial expectations of enrolling 200 students. Since the start, 17 students have withdrawn from the two-year program. Students, however, can take a leave of absence, allowing them to take up to six years to complete the degree.
“I had put a stake in the ground on retention and I was hoping the graduation rate would be right there at about 95%,” says Paul R. Carlile, senior associate dean for innovation. “So we are really happy with that rate, especially if you can take six years to finish the degree.”
Total Enrollment Of BU’s Online MBA Program Now Exceeds 1,700
BU’s program has a current total enrollment of slightly more than 1,700 online MBA students and expects that number to increase to 2,400 by January of next year. The school, which is holding steady its initial price for the program at $24,000 through the next year, has a goal to enroll roughly 550 students this fall during one of its two intakes. Carlile says that about 120 of the 308 graduates are expected to come to Boston for the business school and university commencement on May 20 through May 22. The online MBA will walk with Questrom’s full-time and part-time MBA graduates.
The average age of the graduating class is 39, with 32% of the graduates being women. Some 43 countries will be represented by the graduating class of online MBAs. The three most represented industries in the graduating class are technology (16%), finance/accounting (14%), and health sciences (10%). The online students have formed 32 affinity groups that range from digital health analytics to Latino women.
Carlile noted that a survey of students done in November of last year found exceptionally high rates of satisfaction. The net promoter score across the program was 57.4, a score that is even higher than the 54 net promoter score attributed to Apple. Some 93% of students agreed or strongly agreed that they are pleased with their decision to attend Questrom’s online MBA program.Additionally, 35% of the students reported that they had either received a promotion or a salary increase since joining the program; 75% of those reporting the salary/promotion achievement attributed this to the OMBA program.
High Levels Of Satisfaction Among BU’s Online MBA Students
The survey also found that BU’s OMBA program had the following outcomes:
- Communicate in a clear, concise, and persuasive manner: 80% agree or strongly agree
- Apply critical and analytical thinking to management solutions/challenges: 91% agree or strongly agree
- Use a cross-functional perspective in decision-making: 84% agree or strongly agree
- Use data to drive managerial decisions: 85% agree or strongly agree
- Work collaboratively on diverse teams: 89% agree or strongly agree
- Demonstrate an innovative approach to address real-world problems: 77% agree or strongly agree
- I’ve had opportunities to apply my learning from OMBA classes to my day-to-day work: 86% agree or strongly agree
- There is a strong sense of community in the OMBA Program: 69% agree or strongly agree
- I feel like I belong in the OMBA Program: 83% agree or strongly agree
- I am proud to be an OMBA student: 89% agree or strongly agree
- I feel a sense of affinity toward Boston University: 81% agree or strongly agree
- The OMBA program is rigorous: 79% agree or strongly agree
- I am impressed by the quality of instruction in OMBA: 87% agree or strongly agree
Thus far, the online MBA program has enrolled four cohorts, the latest in January of this year. Asked what BU has learned in moving through the first cohort of the program, Carlile speaks about the challenge of achieving scale for an adult learner program. “The biggest thing I learned is what does scale mean,” he says. “Digital transformation for us means that we can lower the cost, and give it to more people but it means we have to change 95% of everything. Grading systems that were effective for a typical classroom setting are not effective when you go to scale. Scale is how to allow part of that peer-to-peer learning to be part of the rubric. That has been a big thing.”