Innovation: A Global Online MBA That Leverages Content From Wharton & Kellogg, Google & Goldman Sachs

Hult International Business School

The San Francisco campus of Hult International Business School

When business schools first began churning out videos of professors delivering their course material on the web, many have wondered when someone might come along to simply curate the best stuff and make a full online MBA program out of it.

That’s exactly what Hult International Business School has done with its Global Online MBA.”

The school’s professors have smartly leveraged content from an array of business school and corporate rivals to put together a highly innovative online MBA offering.  Hult has gathered some of the best learning videos from Wharton, Kellogg, UVA Darden, Michigan Ross and the University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business along with the likes of Google, Goldman Sachs, and IBM to create something truly unique.


Hult online MBA students studying marketing strategy get snippets from professors at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, the University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business, Rutgers Business School, and IE Business School in Spain. In a leadership course on managing relationships, they see professors from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, the University of California at Davis and at Irvine, among others. In global operations, faculty from the Wharton School weigh in. For Hult’s course on artificial intelligence and the future of work, professors deploy content from the University of New South Wales in Sydney and Lund University in Sweden. Hult professors also lean on video lessons from the likes of Google for product management, IBM for data management, Microsoft for Excel, and Goldman Sachs for innovation strategy (see table on next page for a complete listing of partner content used in Hult’s Global Online MBA.

The biggest surprise of all may well be the record satisfaction scores the program has achieved. Students in Hult’s global online MBA have awarded the program the highest net promoter score (NPS) of any of its more than ten business degree programs. NPS measures customer loyalty, satisfaction, and enthusiasm with a product or service. “It was insanely high,” adds Mona Dhillon, provost and executive vice president. The latest NPS for the Hult program is a remarkable 73.43, even higher than the NPS for Apple’s iPhone which has a score of 63. The latest score taken in December, moreover, was an improvement from the 72.73 score from last summer.

Initially designed for in-house staff as a free perk, the online program went public in the spring of 2022. In quick order, the online MBA has drawn 407 students as of last October’s intake, one of two intakes a year. If anything, the program’s success is a testament to the culture and commercial instincts of a non-traditional business school that is fearless in its pursuit of innovation.


Hult International Business School

Mona Dhillon, Hult provost and executive vice president

Its creation was somewhat accidental, a consequence of the disruptions caused by Covid. At the height of the pandemic in May of 2021, then-Hult President Stephen Hodges wanted to reward the organization’s many employees scattered across a half dozen campuses from Cambridge and San Francisco to London and Dubai. “This all started right out to the pandemic,” recalls Dhillon.  “We wanted to do something for our staff, and I was asked by the president to develop a free staff MBA.”

With Covid raging across the world, Dhillon wanted to get the program up and running as quickly as possible. So instead of asking Hult’s current faculty to do something entirely from scratch, the team hit upon the idea of asking faculty to scan already existing content in their subject areas and leverage it out of the Coursera catalog under an enterprise license Hult purchased from the online educational provider. Instead of reinventing the wheel in course after course, faculty would largely rely on the best lectures and classes at other business schools.

While faculty at most schools often drag their feet on big new initiatives that come from the top, Dhillon handpicked a few of the more innovative professors at the San Francisco campus to work on it. At first, she worried that profs might not want to surrender total control. After all, not-invented-here syndrome has forced many in business look askance at perfectly acceptable solutions from outsiders to challenges


“I thought that was going to be a challenge,” she says, “but it comes down again to picking the right champions who don’t have big egos. One early faculty member came to me and said, ‘I could do this better.’ And I said, ‘I am sure you can but let me just explain how long it would take for you to script the entire course out and record all the video.’ And he said, ‘Oh, right.'”

Ultimately, the core faculty checked their egos, rolled up their sleeves, and delivered the goods.

“It was not difficult to get faculty to do this,” she says. “When we launched the staff MBA, I immediately knew which three faculty I would go to to get it launched and there was absolutely no resistance. They scanned the Coursera catalog for the best in a subject, selected the most relevant content, and then created the introductory and wrap-up modules and all the assignments. Our faculty also do weekly live office hour sessions and the leadership weekends and business challenges.”


The faculty was able to launch the new program in record time, a mere five months later in October of 2021. Frederic Chartier, dean of the school’s Cambridge campus, points out that Hult faculty typically have more industry experience than the profs at more traditional business schools and put teaching first. “There is a certain DNA of the faculty who are attracted to Hult,” he says. “It’s teaching first. We would never bring in somebody who does not know how to teach in a classroom or doesn’t like to teach. There is a collaborative nature here that I haven’t seen in other schools.”

As Hult Professor Larry Louie, who was on the launch team, makes clear: Curating the best of what is already available from other professors is little different than assigning readings, case studies or books from other authors for a course. “For years faculty have selected textbooks or blogs as the best material for students,” says Louie who teaches on the San Francisco campus. “The whole Coursera catalog was available to us. So instead of finding textbooks or doing recordings of our own material, we curated the best video from the thousands of courses in Coursera.”

For his course on financial statement analysis, Louie combed through hundreds of video-taped lectures from professors all over the world. “I watched so much video,” he says, “hundreds of hours of different courses. I needed to see everything my students would see.  Sometimes there is a correlation between a school’s reputation and the quality of the course. Sometimes not so you have to watch it. Everyone sees something in another person’s work that you may like or don’t like for style or content. And you actually have very strong professional organizations that have content on Coursera as well. So you not only have content from universities, this other stuff is fair game.”

Hult International Business School

Hult Professor Larry Louie


Obviously, screening Coursera courses for the right video pieces to fill out a course is also time-consuming. “Curating is kind of a pain and it takes a lot of time,” concedes Louie. “But it had me look at different teaching styles. We didn’t just lift the lectures and reading materials. We also used many of the formative quizzes.”

He ultimately leveraged content from five different courses in putting together the online version of his financial statement course. Louie pulled material from the University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business, a section on sustainable finance reporting from Erasmus University, and the template method of accounting from the University of Melbourne.

Besides borrowing other content, the faculty launch team also pushed the limits on the program’s actual design. Hult’s Global Online MBA is divided into five theme-based modules: Design, Manage, Delivery, Growth, and Impact. At the end of each module, students are given a business challenge to integrate the module’s learning, from a new venture strategy simulation to one on sustainability. Each module boasts four core courses, with the first and last class delivered live online by Hult faculty while the classes in between are delivered in asynchronous format mostly using Coursera content. Hult faculty have the option to assign fully developed Coursera courses or a variety of videos and content from different schools. Throughout the two-year program, students take a total of 20 core courses, including five leadership courses and five business challenges over three-day weekend immersions, and 10 completely asynchronous courses. Students also are given the option to attend weekly live online office hours and webinars.

As with most online degree programs, students have plenty of flexibility to do their degree. They can start the program in January, April, or October. The three-day weekend challenges are conducted in two different time zones. Students also can do  the entire degree live online, or a mix of live online and self-paced courses.


The staff rollout also allowed Hult to finetune the program before launching it to the public two years ago in the spring of 2022 with a $39,500 price tag. Some 84 staffers are currently enrolled in the program, with 45 from the first cohort expected to graduate this August. “We learned what was working and not working with our staff before launching,” explains Dhillon.

“Some people were skeptical thinking that students wouldn’t want to come for a Hult degree if they were being taught from other people’s content but it’s about how you incorporate it,” believes Dhillon.

In fact, the opposite occurred as evidenced by the record NPS scores given to the program.  She attributes the satisfaction to the school’s professors. ” Our faculty are engaging and they are willing to talk. There are some classes they have to take live during the weekend: the leadership courses and the challenges are all live during weekends. That is where the students come together in teams.”


One reason for those high levels of satisfaction, thinks Louie, is the extra thought faculty have given to things like office hours. “We have to demonstrate that we are adding value,” he says. “When we have synchronous sessions or office hours we are adding important value above and beyond the learning from a professor at the University of Illinois. We are getting better at that. We have tools we have to do breakouts more effectively to somewhat mimic a real classroom experience. The top students who attend office hours and workshops are really prepared and some of them are more senior and  ask great questions. What they are learning they want to apply directly to their jobs. You get a lot of that with these onlineMBAs because they live their job every day. So we get deeper engagement through the office hours.”

He also believes the record NPS scores are a function of the expectations a student might bring to an online learning experience.  “Some online students might think they would learn some buzzwords and definitions but you don’t expect to be pushed hard,” he says. “When we get together and I am working with my colleagues on team projects and we do our challenges to wrap up a block of work, it moves you beyond analysis and synthesis. We push them beyond what they expected.”

The extensive review process of existing Coursera material also greatly informed Hult faculty thinking on the best in online learning. Hult’s marketing professor came to believe that much of the Coursera material was outdated, says Louie. “I compared notes with some of my colleagues and we found that a lot of the marketing fundamentals had been taught 20 years ago. It lacked digital marketing. A lot of the core products were old-fashioned. But there was a lot of cutting-edge stuff, too. When I saw these things I sometimes wished I had done what they did. There ironically is better material on more recent topics than the foundations of marketing.”


Another benefit to licensing all of Coursera’s content is the opportunity to use it to level up students given their work experience. “We’re being encouraged to use Coursera as part of our assigned recommended readings,” notes Louie. “I curate for a certain middle-high student. I’ve had managers from Price Waterhouse in my class. So I can assign different levels of readings. I have had students who were artists or theatrical performers. They haven’t taken anything with numbers since high school. They don’t know much about economics or Excel. So we can recommend things that explain the difference between micro- and macro-economics. They can catch up with the other MBAs because they now have Coursera to get them up to speed.”

Chartier agrees. He has supplemented Coursera material to allow students in his in-person graduate course on global financial markets to go deeper. “I am totally on board because I can use it any way I want as supplemental material,” he says. he teaches global financial markets. “Coursera lessons are good to help students level up or for other students to go deeper.”

After Dhillon spoke about curriculum innovation at a recent AACSB workshop, she was not surprised that most of the 40 people in attendance agreed that they could never pull something like this off. “They told me, ‘Our faculty wouldn’t allow it.’ But today we need to meet the students where they’re at with more personalized learning. This is one way to do exactly that.”

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