Harvard’s Business Certification Program is Blowing Up. Here’s Why

HBS Professor Janice Hammond taping a CORe segment for her course on business analytics

Demand for flexible online education has skyrocketed in recent years. From 2012 to 2019, the number of hybrid and distance-only students at traditional universities increased by 36%. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that number grew by an additional 92%.

At Harvard Business School, one program—the Credential of Readiness (CORe) program—has become a popular choice for many seeking out a quality online business education. Fortune recently explained what the CORe program offers and why it’s become one of the most popular in the field of online business education.


Harvard’s CORe program is a business fundamentals program designed to give students a deeper understanding of essential business concepts—from analytics to finance. All courses are completed online asynchronously and are designed to be self-paced, meaning students can choose to complete the program in either 10 or 17 weeks.

“By the end of the program, students should be able to prepare and evaluate financial forecasts, understand a business’ financial health through financial statements, create pricing strategies, and analyze and interpret data to inform business decisions,” Rich Griset, of Fortune, says.

The CORe learning environment is tight-knit as well. While cohorts total around 200 to 300 students, each cohort consists of a “wave” of only about six to seven people—a key distinction that allows students to connect with their peers.

The CORe program is designed for three types of people:

“Those looking to get an MBA, entrepreneurs who may have tech skills but not business ones, and people already established in their careers, such as managers, who want to bone up on their business acumen,” Griset says

A large portion of CORe students are working professionals who are already established in their respective fields but want to deepen their understanding of business.

“The asynchronous nature of it does make it a lot more accessible for people who can’t be tied to a particular schedule,” Patrick Mullane, the current executive director of Harvard Business School Online, tells Fortune.


In interviews with past CORe participants conducted by Harvard, 80% of students reported that CORe is the best online business program they’ve taken. Additionally, 65% stated that because they’ve completed the program, they’ve experienced more respect of influence in their workplace. 89% said that their newly acquired skills were immediately applicable in the workplace, and 91% said they became more confident at work.

Malachi Koop, who completed CORe and is now a senior consultant at EY-Parthenon, a Boston-based global strategy consulting firm, says the program helped give him more solid experience with business concepts—and ultimately helped push him to pursue an MBA.

“If you’re looking to just throw something on your resume and blow through it quickly, [CORe is] probably not an ideal fit,” he says. “If you are looking to get engaged with the material and really increase your knowledge and skills, it’s a great program to pursue.”

Sources: Fortune, McKinsey

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