Illinois iMBA


MBYAY

I don't see any recent posts specifically on the iMBA from Illinois.

As such, does anyone on here have any direct experience with it - the pros/cons, student experience, faculty, etc?

Any up-to-date and reliable second-hand experience would also be welcomed.

As an aside, the program itself looks well-designed and comprehensive and the university itself seems to have a good reputation as well as a broad alumni network. However, I'm also curious now that they're no longer offering their on-campus MBA whether this will see faculty leave and reputation lower.

I don't see any recent posts specifically on the iMBA from Illinois.

As such, does anyone on here have any direct experience with it - the pros/cons, student experience, faculty, etc?

Any up-to-date and reliable second-hand experience would also be welcomed.

As an aside, the program itself looks well-designed and comprehensive and the university itself seems to have a good reputation as well as a broad alumni network. However, I'm also curious now that they're no longer offering their on-campus MBA whether this will see faculty leave and reputation lower.
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However, I'm also curious now that they're no longer offering their on-campus MBA whether this will see faculty leave and reputation lower.

If anything, that will make the faculty happy LOL.  A long time ago I was a graduate teaching assistant and based on my experience, for many faculty members, research is the #1 priority.  Teaching MBA students is more or less an annoying chore LOL.  
In any case, UIUC the parent university is well known throughout the world, particularly in the sciences.  That reputation won't be tarnished by canceling their on-campus MBA.  

[Edited by smartcanada on Apr 25, 2020]

[quote]However, I'm also curious now that they're no longer offering their on-campus MBA whether this will see faculty leave and reputation lower.[/quote]<div><br></div><div>If anything, that will make the faculty happy LOL.&nbsp; A long time ago I was a graduate teaching assistant and based on my experience, for many faculty members, research is the #1 priority.&nbsp; Teaching MBA students is more or less an annoying chore LOL.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>In any case, UIUC the parent university is well known throughout the world, particularly in the sciences.&nbsp; That reputation won't be tarnished by canceling their on-campus MBA.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div>
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Duncan

I agree: Other than a few unusual schools, like Dartmouth and LBS, I can't think of many places where research-active faculty go there because they want to team MBAs. Tenured faculty are mobile when their research is valued. 

I agree: Other than a few unusual schools, like Dartmouth and LBS, I can't think of many places where research-active faculty go there because they want to team MBAs. Tenured faculty are mobile when their research is valued.&nbsp;
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mba hipste...

I don't see any recent posts specifically on the iMBA from Illinois.

It's actually been discussed to some degree quite a bit recently 1f609
https://find-mba.com/board/usa/university-of-illinois-at-urbana-champaign-gies-imba-vs-boston-university-questrom-online-mba-59885

https://find-mba.com/board/distance-learning/how-to-rank-best-us-online-mbas-60711

https://find-mba.com/board/distance-learning/coursera-mba-career-prospects-56809

https://find-mba.com/board/distance-learning/bradford-dl-mba-or-illinois-imba-56836

[quote]I don't see any recent posts specifically on the iMBA from Illinois. [/quote]<div><br></div><div>It's actually been discussed to some degree quite a bit recently&nbsp;:wink:</div><div><br></div><div>https://find-mba.com/board/usa/university-of-illinois-at-urbana-champaign-gies-imba-vs-boston-university-questrom-online-mba-59885<br></div><div><br></div><div>https://find-mba.com/board/distance-learning/how-to-rank-best-us-online-mbas-60711<br></div><div><br></div><div>https://find-mba.com/board/distance-learning/coursera-mba-career-prospects-56809<br></div><div><br></div><div>https://find-mba.com/board/distance-learning/bradford-dl-mba-or-illinois-imba-56836<br></div><div><br></div>
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MBYAY


Thanks for compiling those. I have read through them all previously, but good to have the links here for anyone else looking.
Personally speaking, I'm most interested in if them pulling the on-campus MBA has had any knock-on effects (positive or negative), but it's likely too early to tell...

[quote][quote]I don't see any recent posts specifically on the iMBA from Illinois. [/quote]<div><br></div><div>It's actually been discussed to some degree quite a bit recently&nbsp;:wink:</div><div><br></div><div>https://find-mba.com/board/usa/university-of-illinois-at-urbana-champaign-gies-imba-vs-boston-university-questrom-online-mba-59885<br></div><div><br></div><div>https://find-mba.com/board/distance-learning/how-to-rank-best-us-online-mbas-60711<br></div><div><br></div><div>https://find-mba.com/board/distance-learning/coursera-mba-career-prospects-56809<br></div><div><br></div><div>https://find-mba.com/board/distance-learning/bradford-dl-mba-or-illinois-imba-56836<br></div><div><br></div> [/quote]<div><br></div><div>Thanks for compiling those. I have read through them all previously, but good to have the links here for anyone else looking.</div><div><br></div><div>Personally speaking, I'm most interested in if them pulling the on-campus MBA has had any knock-on effects (positive or negative), but it's likely too early to tell...</div>
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Duncan

Hugely positive effect on the faculty, and I imagine is also helps them to increase the number of PhD assistantships. And more interesting for the careers services team. Given that the building is purpose built for its current model, I can't see a downside. And, of course, it is why the Gies school won that huge endowement. It's a a big win. 

Hugely positive effect on the faculty, and I imagine is also helps them to increase the number of PhD assistantships. And more interesting for the careers services team. Given that the building is purpose built for its current model, I can't see a downside. And, of course, it is why the Gies school won that huge endowement. It's a a big win.&nbsp;
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Rhen Ray

I am currently a student almost halfway done. Of course, the low tuition is what drives most people to the program. The courses are the "traditional" MBA courses you see at most places, but what's lacking are interesting electives that other renowned schools offer (e.g. Warwick, Imperial, Penn State, Kellogg, etc). I also wish there were more advanced topics for the traditional areas that go beyond the fundamentals. 
The student base is mostly highly qualified, though skewed towards people who live in the Midwestern States and in project management/engineering roles. 
There is a Workplace page that serves as the "intranet" for all the students. It is highly active. Teamwork on courses is done via Zoom and Compass 2G. They started doing career services specifically for online students a few months back with some pharmaceutical companies. They were organizing micro-immersions in cities around the globe before the pandemic hit. 
I do wish that the iMBA participates in rankings. I think it would do well. Even MGSM's Global MBA is now ranked by CEO Magazine. 

I am currently a student almost halfway done. Of course, the low tuition is what drives most people to the program. The courses are the "traditional" MBA courses you see at most places, but what's lacking are interesting electives that other renowned schools offer (e.g. Warwick, Imperial, Penn State, Kellogg, etc). I also wish there were more advanced topics for the traditional areas that go beyond the fundamentals.&nbsp;<div><br></div><div>The student base is mostly highly qualified, though skewed towards people who live in the Midwestern States and in project management/engineering roles.&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>There is a Workplace page that serves as the "intranet" for all the students. It is highly active. Teamwork on courses is done via Zoom and Compass 2G. They started doing career services specifically for online students a few months back with some pharmaceutical companies. They were organizing micro-immersions in cities around the globe before the pandemic hit.&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>I do wish that the iMBA participates in rankings. I think it would do well. Even MGSM's Global MBA is now ranked by CEO Magazine.&nbsp;</div>
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MBYAY

I am currently a student almost halfway done. Of course, the low tuition is what drives most people to the program. The courses are the "traditional" MBA courses you see at most places, but what's lacking are interesting electives that other renowned schools offer (e.g. Warwick, Imperial, Penn State, Kellogg, etc). I also wish there were more advanced topics for the traditional areas that go beyond the fundamentals. 
The student base is mostly highly qualified, though skewed towards people who live in the Midwestern States and in project management/engineering roles. 
There is a Workplace page that serves as the "intranet" for all the students. It is highly active. Teamwork on courses is done via Zoom and Compass 2G. They started doing career services specifically for online students a few months back with some pharmaceutical companies. They were organizing micro-immersions in cities around the globe before the pandemic hit. 
I do wish that the iMBA participates in rankings. I think it would do well. Even MGSM's Global MBA is now ranked by CEO Magazine. 

Thank you very much for taking the time to provide some first-hand insights, I really appreciate that. It sounds like your experience is a positive one overall and that the MBA seems fair value for the costs so far. Interesting point about the electives - I've wondered about online MBAs in general as to whether they would put enough effort into the content. It sounds like that with Illinois they're offering a comprehensive education but just not necessarily with a great deal of dynamism?
As to rankings, perhaps someone with some insights into that could suggest why they don't? (Is it just too young a program? Do they actively stay off rankings as it won't benefit them? etc)

[quote]I am currently a student almost halfway done. Of course, the low tuition is what drives most people to the program. The courses are the "traditional" MBA courses you see at most places, but what's lacking are interesting electives that other renowned schools offer (e.g. Warwick, Imperial, Penn State, Kellogg, etc). I also wish there were more advanced topics for the traditional areas that go beyond the fundamentals.&nbsp;<div><br></div><div>The student base is mostly highly qualified, though skewed towards people who live in the Midwestern States and in project management/engineering roles.&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>There is a Workplace page that serves as the "intranet" for all the students. It is highly active. Teamwork on courses is done via Zoom and Compass 2G. They started doing career services specifically for online students a few months back with some pharmaceutical companies. They were organizing micro-immersions in cities around the globe before the pandemic hit.&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>I do wish that the iMBA participates in rankings. I think it would do well. Even MGSM's Global MBA is now ranked by CEO Magazine.&nbsp;</div> [/quote]<div><br></div><div>Thank you very much for taking the time to provide some first-hand insights, I really appreciate that. It sounds like your experience is a positive one overall and that the MBA seems fair value for the costs so far.&nbsp;</div><div>Interesting point about the electives - I've wondered about online MBAs in general as to whether they would put enough effort into the content. It sounds like that with Illinois they're offering a comprehensive education but just not necessarily with a great deal of dynamism?</div><div><br></div><div>As to rankings, perhaps someone with some insights into that could suggest why they don't? (Is it just too young a program? Do they actively stay off rankings as it won't benefit them? etc)</div>
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Duncan

Is this really a lack of dynamism? They are building a full MBA formed with general management core and a integrated curriculum. Who else offers an online MBA that is composed that way? 
The last thing we need is another light MBA with trivial electives. 

Is this really a lack of dynamism? They are building a full MBA formed with general management core and a integrated curriculum. Who else offers an online MBA that is composed that way?&nbsp;<div><br></div><div>The last thing we need is another light MBA with trivial electives.&nbsp;</div>
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MBYAY

Is this really a lack of dynamism? They are building a full MBA formed with general management core and a integrated curriculum. Who else offers an online MBA that is composed that way? 
The last thing we need is another light MBA with trivial electives. 

It seems that there are two parts to this:
1) Electives aren't "interesting" (Personally, I think their electives look quite interesting - but perhaps this is subjective anyway?)2) Topics aren't "advanced" - not sure what this means, but it suggests that they stick to the basics and don't go beyond them (hence lack of 'dynamic')
I've definitely seen lots of fluff in MBA descriptions (strangely they don't seem to hide this, but that's another matter..) and it doesn't look like that applies to the iMBA. 
I'm curious if Rhen has more to comment on this?

[quote]Is this really a lack of dynamism? They are building a full MBA formed with general management core and a integrated curriculum. Who else offers an online MBA that is composed that way?&nbsp;<div><br></div><div>The last thing we need is another light MBA with trivial electives.&nbsp;</div> [/quote]<div><br><div>It seems that there are two parts to this:<br></div><div>1) Electives aren't "interesting" (Personally, I think their electives look quite interesting - but perhaps this is subjective anyway?)</div><div>2) Topics aren't "advanced" - not sure what this means, but it suggests that they stick to the basics and don't go beyond them (hence lack of 'dynamic')</div><div><br></div><div>I've definitely seen lots of fluff in MBA descriptions (strangely they don't seem to hide this, but that's another matter..) and it doesn't look like that applies to the iMBA.&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>I'm curious if Rhen has more to comment on this?</div></div>
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Rhen Ray

Here's the thing: the content doesn't really go any deeper than what is provided in the corresponding Coursera courses. The High Engagement portion is simply graded assignments and access to live lectures. Live lectures are about 1 - 1.5 hrs per week mostly just discussion about current events related to the topic(s).
It really can't go any deeper because there is sometimes a lot of handholding involved given that a GMAT or GRE is not required. You have experienced folks as students for sure, but they may be lacking in basic quant skills. If they studied for the GMAT, they would at least have some baseline knowledge of stats, algebra, etc. 

Here's the thing: the content doesn't really go any deeper than what is provided in the corresponding Coursera courses. The High Engagement portion is simply graded assignments and access to live lectures. Live lectures are about 1 - 1.5 hrs per week mostly just discussion about current events related to the topic(s).<div><br></div><div>It really can't go any deeper because there is sometimes a lot of handholding involved given that a GMAT or GRE is not required. You have experienced folks as students for sure, but they may be lacking in basic quant skills. If they studied for the GMAT, they would at least have some baseline knowledge of stats, algebra, etc.&nbsp;</div>
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Duncan

Just a comparison from my experience here in Europe. Some MBAs have a big core, and they want people to really master the core skills. That's the base at LBS, where I did my MBA. I later supervised an MBA team from other top UK MBA with a smaller core and more electives. They were very light on quant stuff, didn't really understand how things worked. For example, they knew that a beta is the average volatility of a stock but could not quite grasp that there were very different levels of volatility in different markets, and so a beta of 1 in the UK was not the same as a beta of 1 in China. 
Some of the best EMBAs I have visited have a big core (like Chicago and Purdue) and some of the most trivial have lots of tiny electives that just give vocabulary (Kellogg was like that when I looked). 
An MBA is training for a decades-long career. 

Just a comparison from my experience here in Europe. Some MBAs have a big core, and they want people to really master the core skills. That's the base at LBS, where I did my MBA. I later supervised an MBA team from other top UK MBA with a smaller core and more electives. They were very light on quant stuff, didn't really understand how things worked. For example, they knew that a beta is the average volatility of a stock but could not quite grasp that there were very different levels of volatility in different markets, and so a beta of 1 in the UK was not the same as a beta of 1 in China.&nbsp;<div><br></div><div>Some of the best EMBAs I have visited have a big core (like Chicago and Purdue) and some of the most trivial have lots of tiny electives that just give vocabulary (Kellogg was like that when I looked).&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>An MBA is training for a decades-long career.&nbsp;</div>
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Duncan

So, for example, I was speaking to someone recently who was comparing Illinois with a UK MBA around the same cost. Illinois has around 70% more learning, in terms of credit hours, because US MBAs are equal to four semesters rather than three terms. And the quant core some around there times larger than in the UK MBA. Of course, that reflects the fact that European undergrad degrees are normally 100% in the focus area, while a US degree is less specialised. But, even so, the US MBA is typically more extensive.

So, for example, I was speaking to someone recently who was comparing Illinois with a UK MBA around the same cost. Illinois has around 70% more learning, in terms of credit hours, because US MBAs are equal to four semesters rather than three terms. And the quant core some around there times larger than in the UK MBA. Of course, that reflects the fact that European undergrad degrees are normally 100% in the focus area, while a US degree is less specialised. But, even so, the US MBA is typically more extensive.
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MBYAY

Very interesting comments - thank you everyone so far for the insights!
I do really like the look of the Illinois MBA on paper, so it's good to get a sense of what it's like in practice. 
Obviously, we're talking about a reasonably-priced online MBA, so it's not going to be perfect nor is it ever likely to provide near the value of top-ranked regular MBAs. However, it sounds like it covers a lot of ground, even if the content isn't always very deep and some of the students aren't up to scratch.
I do wonder though with the content in particular whether this is just how it is with online MBAs, even ones with a lot of credits, that the content never quite gets as deep as it should?

Very interesting comments - thank you everyone so far for the insights!<div><br></div><div>I do really like the look of the Illinois MBA on paper, so it's good to get a sense of what it's like in practice.&nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div>Obviously, we're talking about a reasonably-priced online MBA, so it's not going to be perfect nor is it ever likely to provide near the value of top-ranked regular MBAs. However, it sounds like it covers a lot of ground, even if the content isn't always very deep and some of the students aren't up to scratch.</div><div><br></div><div>I do wonder though with the content in particular whether this is just how it is with online MBAs, even ones with a lot of credits, that the content never quite gets as deep as it should?</div>
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Rhen Ray

I wouldn't say that the students are not up to scratch. Most have at least 10 years of work experience in highly desirable positions (e.g. SVP of a Hollywood studio). However, unlike other programs for instance, students do not need to complete a pre-MBA primer or anything like that. Thus, for those that have not dealt with stats since high school, there is a lot of valuable class time that must go into teaching the basics again. I am in Business Stats right now and it is sometimes painful in having to listen to students ask questions about the most basic things time after time during live lectures.  
With that said, they have a lot of extracurricular initiatives that are not found in other online MBA programs at this price point.  However, I do hope that they don't go "too big". It used to be a ~20% acceptance rate, now its more than double. The program is now profitable at a scale of 3000 students.  

[Edited by Rhen Ray on Apr 30, 2020]

I wouldn't say that the students are not up to scratch. Most have at least 10 years of work experience in highly desirable positions (e.g. SVP of a Hollywood studio). However, unlike other programs for instance, students do not need to complete a pre-MBA primer or anything like that. Thus, for those that have not dealt with stats since high school, there is a lot of valuable class time that must go into teaching the basics again. I am in Business Stats right now and it is sometimes painful in having to listen to students ask questions about the most basic things time after time during live lectures.&nbsp;&nbsp;<div><br></div><div>With that said, they have a lot of extracurricular initiatives that are not found in other online MBA programs at this price point.&nbsp; However, I do hope that they don't go "too big". It used to be a ~20% acceptance rate, now its more than double. The program is now profitable at a scale of 3000 students.&nbsp;&nbsp;<br></div>
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Duncan

Honestly, that was also the case at London Business School: poets really struggle with the time value of money etc.
The important thing about Illinois is that this is not a budget MBA just because the tuition is low. It's more than doubled the size of its endowment, allowing a subsidy, and can experience serious economies of scale. 

Honestly, that was also the case at London Business School: poets really struggle with the time value of money etc.<div><br></div><div>The important thing about Illinois is that this is not a budget MBA just because the tuition is low. It's more than doubled the size of its endowment, allowing a subsidy, and can experience serious economies of scale.&nbsp;</div>
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I wouldn't say that the students are not up to scratch. Most have at least 10 years of work experience in highly desirable positions (e.g. SVP of a Hollywood studio). 

Very interesting, I really like your comments.  My personal view on this is I would rather have the weak-in-quant SVP as a classmate than a 750+ GMAT 2-3 years work experience kid.  The MBA is all about the real world, and in the real world, we don't need 750+ GMAT-level quant abilities to thrive.   "Helping" your SVP classmate who is struggling with the course might also pay dividends, yielding a great potential future contact and someone who can provide informal advice in the future.   

Now if you're talking about a weak-in-quant junior classmate with no work experience, then that is another matter that might spoil the experience.  

[Edited by smartcanada on Apr 30, 2020]

[quote]I wouldn't say that the students are not up to scratch. Most have at least 10 years of work experience in highly desirable positions (e.g. SVP of a Hollywood studio).&nbsp;<br> [/quote]<div><br></div><div>Very interesting, I really like your comments.&nbsp; My personal view on this is I would rather have the weak-in-quant SVP as a classmate than a 750+ GMAT 2-3 years work experience kid.&nbsp; The MBA is all about the real world, and in the real world, we don't need 750+ GMAT-level quant abilities to thrive.&nbsp; &nbsp;"Helping" your SVP classmate who is struggling with the course might also pay dividends, yielding a great potential future contact and someone who can provide informal advice in the future.&nbsp; &nbsp;</div><div><br></div><div><br></div><div>Now if you're talking about a weak-in-quant junior classmate with no work experience, then that is another matter that might spoil the experience.&nbsp;&nbsp;</div>
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MBYAY

Thank you to everyone for contributing to this discussion - lots of great insights!

Thank you to everyone for contributing to this discussion - lots of great insights!
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Joe Two

Thank you for the info Rhen Ray. I have a question about admissions: I understand that if you apply directly for the iMBA you can get accepted or rejected depending on the strength of your application. But how do they handle people who have done the online Coursera courses, or any of the other options mentioned on the website (enroll as a non-degree student, take a non-credit course, etc)? Is it possible to spend a year(or how long it takes) to finish on Coursera, and then get rejected for the iMBA?
What route did you take, if I may ask? 1f642

<div>Thank you for the info Rhen Ray. I have a question about admissions: I understand that if you apply directly for the iMBA you can get accepted or rejected depending on the strength of your application. But how do they handle people who have done the online Coursera courses, or any of the other options mentioned on the website (enroll as a non-degree student, take a non-credit course, etc)? Is it possible to spend a year(or how long it takes) to finish on Coursera, and then get rejected for the iMBA?</div><div><br></div><div>What route did you take, if I may ask?&nbsp;:slightly-smiling-face:</div>
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Rhen Ray

If you finish all the Coursera courses before applying, won't make a difference whatsoever.  They have a "performance track" which is technically easier to get in. You just take two or three  credit based courses as a non-degree student; as long as you get B or something, you're basically in. This is the same performance format that MGSM's Global MBA has as well. However, even if u get all A's as a non-degree student, you still have to write the essay, submit your resume and be interviewed. It's not a guarantee - they can still reject you if they think your baseline work experience is not good enough, even if you get A's. However, if your gap is math/quant, you can "prove' your skills by taking an econ, stats or finance course as a non-degree student. 
Also, I wouldn't complete all the Coursera courses beforehand; the iMBA tuition is built in (they increased it last semester). All courses will also be 2% more expensive for Fall 2020. 

If you finish all the Coursera courses before applying, won't make a difference whatsoever.&nbsp; They have a "performance track" which is technically easier to get in. You just take two or three&nbsp; credit based courses as a non-degree student; as long as you get B or something, you're basically in. This is the same performance format that MGSM's Global MBA has as well. However, even if u get all A's as a non-degree student, you still have to write the essay, submit your resume and be interviewed. It's not a guarantee - they can still reject you if they think your baseline work experience is not good enough, even if you get A's. However, if your gap is math/quant, you can "prove' your skills by taking an econ, stats or finance course as a non-degree student.&nbsp;<div><br></div><div>Also, I wouldn't complete all the Coursera courses beforehand; the iMBA tuition is built in (they increased it last semester). All courses will also be 2% more expensive for Fall 2020.&nbsp;</div>
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