This Chicago B-School Is Launching 4 Online Programs — With Performance-Based Admission

Stuart School of Business alumna Savitha Chelladurai is the Sustainability Manager at Chicago’s iconic Navy Pier, and worked with students Ann Maria Joseph and Yiwen Wang who both had internships at the Pier. Courtesy photo

Liad Wagman, dean of the Stuart School of Business at Illinois Institute of Technology, says the school sees technology as a tailwind for almost anything in the modern workplace. And that’s a real leverage point for the Chicago B-school, housed within a tech university in a city that is a global financial hub.

Illinois Tech’s Stuart School of Business is known for its interdisciplinary approach to learning, and this year its introducing another model: a suite of remote and online programming, vying to be accessible and highly industry-aligned.

In August, the university welcomes its first cohort of students for four new online programs rolling out in partnership with the education platform Coursera. The degrees — an MBA, Master of Data Science, Master of Information Technology, and Bachelor of Information Technology — are focused on promoting career progression. Admission will be performance-based admission and the programs will incorporate industry credentials into academic qualifications.

“We are particularly passionate about the accessibility factor, it’s big for us, we see a huge market segment that can benefit from this and is not currently being offered,” Wagman tells P&Q in an interview.


What does it mean for admission to be performance-based? That it may suit applicants who may not meet traditional admissions requirements or are unsure about their readiness for the program. Three short courses are provided to applicants to take beforehand that represent the broader programs. For the MBA, the short courses are Business Strategy in a Competitive Market, Managerial Economics: Buyer and Seller Behavior and Mastering Excel Essentials to Enhance Business Value. No matter their background or prior education, if students pass each of the three classes with a B or higher, they are admitted to the program.

“It reflects their ability to complete the entire program, so we are looking to reduce barriers there, too,” Wagman says.

Tuition will be $15,000, a rather fair price tag considering some online degrees run up six-figure bills. The degree can be completed in 12 to 24 months. The four online degrees will be run by the School of Business and the College of Computing. The Tech MBA is meant for preparing students for managerial roles in technology organizations or across the industry. All materials in the course will be asynchronous. Statistics, mathematics, and computer science are the larger components of the Master of Data Science, while learning about cloud-based information is a major theme of Stuart’s online information technology degree.


Liad Wagman: “It is part of our mission here to meet learners where they are, offer them programs that are accessible both financially and but also from a scheduling perspective, and flexible, as something they can do in their free time”

Wagman, named to Poets&Quants’ list of 2015 Best 40 Under 40 Professors, says the value of technology-oriented education is only growing. Despite vast layoffs surfacing this year in the industry, which Wagman says is largely due to large companies restructuring, tech is here to stay. He notes virtually every company – in the tech field or not – uses tech resources in some way.

In the future, they aim to offer multiple pathways for the Tech MBA, similar to what their in-person MBA has or is developing: the business analytics MBA, quantitative finance MBA, management MBA and an MBA solely focused on artificial intelligence. Stuart partners with companies offering students the ability to acquire industry certifications. Wagman describes it as “a triangle” where students build on industry credits and academic certifications that count toward getting the degree. Some industry partners for their in-person or hybrid MBA include IBM and Salesforce.

“We see all these credentials as quite powerful in folks getting career readiness and career success and high placement roles,” he says.


In 2022, the Stuart boosts that within six months nearly 95% of graduates had full-time jobs. The B-school’s stats show the median salary for the Class of 2022 was around $87,500, and nearly 98% of the class had jobs in the U.S., nearly 89% of which were located in the state of Illinois.

In 2021, according to numbers provided by the school, the percentage of full-time employed graduates was lower than 2022 at 66.2%, but quite a bit higher the year prior at 88.8% (Class of 2020).

“We have advisory councils composed of industry executives and we get direct input from employers about what graduates need to be effective,” Wagman says.


Illinois Tech’s history in Chicago dates back more than 125 years. It offered some of the country’s earliest teaching in business, though at the time the courses were Home Economics and Household Management. The business school was established after a gift from Harold Stewart, one of the more successful financiers since the first half of the 20th century, who was based in the city.

Wagman says the vision for the online programming stems back to the school’s roots of being created an as “opportunity engine” for Chicago’s steel workers, meatpackers and machinists.

“It is part of our mission here to meet learners where they are, offer them programs that are accessible both financially and but also from a scheduling perspective, and flexible, as something they can do in their free time,” he says.

For More Don’t Miss: Where Tech Finds Talent: The Top B-Schools That Feed The Beleaguered Industry and How Online MBA Programs Compare On Retention & Graduation Rates

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