Nearly two years after EY began offering a free online MBA to 312,000 employees, only 55 have graduated under the program, according to the Big Four accounting firm. That accounts to less than .02% of EY’s worldwide workforce who have taken advantage of the online degree program and actually graduated from Hult International Business School.
The number was disclosed in a news release announcing a new online sustainability master’s program now being launched by EY under its partnership with Hult.
The company has said that the Tech MBA program from Hult could be completed in as little as 18 months or as long as five to six years. When it was announced in 2020, EY officials said they believed most employees would complete the degree in three to four years.
FIRST COHORT OF EIGHT GRADUATES EARNED THEIR ONLINE DEGREES LAST MARCH
Nonetheless, EY reported last March that the first group of students, eight in all, graduated with the virtual degree. Among the eight were just three employees from the U.S.: Allan Douglas in EY’s assurance unit in Nashville, Dane Heilner, a Boston-based managing director who works in strategy and transactions, and Rohit Singh, who works in assurance as part of EY’s client technology service line out of Alpharetta, Georgia.
The newly reported number of 55 online MBA graduates thus far may not be a clear indication of the program’s success or failure. Trent Henry, global vice chair of talent at EY, declined a request for an interview with Poets&Quants. An EY spokesperson has yet to get back on the number of employees taking Hult courses in the Tech MBA program.
EY launched the program to help it recruit and retain employees. With a master’s degree in business analytics launched last year, the Tech MBA and now the master’s in sustainability, it is the third program EY is offering to employees through Hult.
According to the company, the average age of an EY professional is 28—the ideal age at which many young professionals would leave their jobs to enroll in full-time MBA programs. Hult’s program fees for its online MBA total $39,800, though it is not known how much EY pays Hult for each of its employee students. The Hult price tag is substantially higher than the $22,500 cost of an online MBA from the University of Illinois Gies College of Business or the $24,000 cost of an online MBA from Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.
IT’S FREE BUT NOT HARDLY A TRUE MBA EXPERIENCE
If relatively few have signed up for the MBA, it would not be surprising (see Why EY’s Free Online MBA For Employees Is Not A Threat To Business Schools).
EY is essentially offering employees a fraction of a true MBA experience and therefore a fraction of its real value. EY/Hult MBA students miss the most important elements of a fully immersive MBA experience that are not included at all. Because the program is entirely online and open to only employees, it will not feature learning and socializing with a group of diverse young professionals from all walks of life in different companies and industries.
One of the core benefits of MBA programs is that they bring together individuals who have worked at Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft with those who have worked at McKinsey, Goldman Sachs, General Electric, ExxonMobil, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, and Walmart. The knowledge and insights a student gains from classmates who bring experience from many of the most admired and innovative companies in the world are invaluable.
NEW MASTER’S IN SUSTAINABILITY ALSO BUILDS ON EY’S BADGES PROGRAM
To the extent that an MBA degree conveys prestige, that status is often the direct result of brand. Hult International is not a highly selective business school with an MBA ranked among the Top 50 in the world. In fact, the school’s MBA was ranked 99th out of 100 by the Financial Times annual ranking last year and failed to rank at all in the FT’s latest 2022 ranking. Hult’s online MBA is not ranked by either Poets&Quants or U.S. News & World Report, the latter of which ranks 328 virtual programs.
Like its online MBA degree, the EY Masters in Sustainability by Hult builds on EY Badges, which enable EY people to earn digital credentials in future-focused skills and apply their learning in practice. To earn the new qualification, EY people must complete eight EY Badges covering sustainability focused topics including climate change, sustainable finance and impact entrepreneurship. They are also required to complete a selection of seven additional badges spanning leadership, business and technology topics.
To date, the company says that EY employees have earned more than 200,000 badges in a wide range of subject areas from AI to robotic process automation, blockchain and diversity and inclusiveness.
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