Founder Of ‘An Entire MBA In 1 Course’: In 30 Years Most Degree Programs Will Be Online

Founder Of 'An Entire MBA In 1 Course': In 30 Years Most Degree Programs Will Be Online

Chris Haroun, best known for “An Entire MBA In 1 Course,” talks to Poets&Quants about the future of graduate business education and why he thinks it’s all headed online. Courtesy photo

In the next few decades, Chris Haroun says, everything about graduate business education will be different.

Everything — including where and how they are taught.

“I think that only 50 major universities will exist and that most degree programs will be online,” says the author of 101 Crucial Lessons They Don’t Teach You in Business School, the 2015 book that Forbes called “one of six books that all entrepreneurs need to read right now.”

It’s a bold prediction. And Haroun has good reasons for making it.

‘YOU CAN LEARN A LOT MORE STUFF ONLINE’

Founder Of 'An Entire MBA In 1 Course': In 30 Years Most Degree Programs Will Be Online

Chris Haroun, founder of the popular online An Entire MBA In One Course: Smaller B-schools “are going to see a material decline to extent that, if they don’t shift to online or truncate the program or lower the cost materially, I don’t think they’ll make it”

By now, Chris Haroun’s name is well-known to anyone familiar with online business education. The Columbia Business School MBA and former Goldman Sachs associate is the founder of Haroun Education Ventures, which features the 300-plus-hour online Haroun MBA Degree Program. Haroun has sold more than 1.5 million online business and self-improvement courses in 12 languages to students in every country on Earth — all 196 of them; on his website he declares, “I will walk through walls to ensure that my students are successful (or your money back).”

Poets&Quants wrote about Haroun in 2020, as the graduate business education world reeled amid the turbulent onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the reality of a suddenly very different learning landscape. Back then, he said of graduate business education in general and MBA programs in particular, “I think it’s antiquated. It’s a ridiculous amount of money. We learn concepts that we can’t apply in the real world — a lot of it. And it’s a little bit too theoretical. And we don’t learn the most important aspects of what makes a successful business person, like how to sell, how to present, how to interview, how to manage your own money, that sort of thing.

“And you’d think that once you graduate business school, if somebody asked you, ‘So do you know how to start a company?’ No. People would be like, ‘Well, no — I kind of learned theoretical stuff.’ You know, I’m very proud of the fact that I went to a decent school, but at the same time, it certainly is a lot of money. And I think you can learn a lot more stuff online from people that have done it, and save a lot of money, too.”

ONLINE MBA PROGRAM AVAILABLE FOR $499 TO $1,499

Chris Haroun spent a decade working at Goldman Sachs and has taught at such elite institutions as UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business and Stanford Graduate School of Business. In 2016, inspired by his work teaching business principles to underprivileged kids through a not-for-profit in East Palo Alto, California, he launched “An Entire MBA In 1 Course,” an online class that has become the single biggest seller on Udemy. A legitimate Internet sensation, it has reached nearly half a million students in every country in the world, teaching them “everything from startup to IPO” through more than eight hours of downloadable video and dozens of articles and other resources. Depending on promotions, the course costs as little as $10.99.

These days Haroun spends most of his time on the online MBA program that he launched in late 2019, just in time for the mass migration to digital learning precipitated by Covid-19. Featuring three different levels — Silver, Gold, and Platinum — the program includes hundreds of hours of lessons and costs between $499 and $1,499, all of which include a 30-day, 100% money-back guarantee. The Silver program is 400 to 500 hours of lessons with no time limit to finish; the Gold and Platinum programs both begin in mid-December and feature 200 hours of live Q&A in addition to the 300 hours of lessons. The latter, the most expensive option, also features several hours of one-on-one meetings with Haroun via Zoom or in person in the San Francisco Bay Area.

There are other, smaller offshoot courses that offer certificates in finance and accounting; sales, marketing, and communications; economics, management, and strategy; and more, all at much lower prices. Haroun says he offers the courses so cheaply because money is not his main motivation. Most of the income from these courses goes toward scholarships, he says, and such charitable efforts as his work to build schools in Africa. All his forays into online business education are sparked by the same driver as his first, he says, when he created “An Entire MBA In 1 Course” for the kids of East Palo Alto: “I just want to help. That’s all. It was never about money. I think if you chase money, you lose your dreams and your money.

“But if you chase your dreams, as long as you’re willing to fail at least a couple of times — and I certainly have more than a couple of times — then good things can happen.”

B-SCHOOLS MUST ADAPT OR DIE: ‘THE WHOLE SYSTEM IS JUST RIPE FOR DISRUPTION’

Chris Haroun has seen, and been part of, a major paradigm shift in graduate business education. So when he predicts another, longer-term disruption in how MBA degrees are taught and earned, it’s worth pondering.

“I think what’s going to happen is in several decades, most major universities are going to go bankrupt,” Haroun tells P&Q. “At first they’ll deplete their alumni endowment and then there’ll be a Hail Mary pass to alumni to support them. I think people will realize that, ‘Hey, I’m not going to go to university or an MBA program, for example, unless it’s a great name, like a Stanford, Harvard, whatever it is.’

“I think the other schools are going to see a material decline to extent that, if they don’t shift to online or truncate the program or lower the cost materially, I don’t think they’ll make it.”

The past elitism of graduate business education is catching up with it, he adds.

“I think that the whole system is elitist,” Haroun says. “A lot of people get into great schools because of who their parents are. Of course there are people that work exceptionally hard to get in, but it’s not fair. It is not fair that your chances of success in life are predicated or based on who your parents are. I think society is catching up with that.

“During Covid, it was fascinating: I was teaching my MBA program online and I realized that if the internet was invented first, would we still have traditional universities or big cities? It doesn’t make sense to uproot your life, spend an hour or two a day commuting, which is bad for the environment, bad for your social life, can’t spend as much time with your kids and stuff. So the whole system is just ripe for disruption.”

See the next page for Poets&Quants‘ Q&A with Chris Haroun, founder of An Entire MBA In 1 Course. 

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