Online learning and specifically Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) emerged on the education scene in barnstorming fashion, promising to democratize access to graduate level learning. They were even touted to disrupt higher education through low-cost, flexible and scalable platforms.
However, online courses can actually be a pathway to a degree such as an MBA, with a number of business schools offering short virtual courses as academic credit towards their Online MBA degrees. They help students who have been out of formal education for several years catch up on the fundamentals of business so they can hit the ground running when they start an Online MBA.
MOOCs and other online courses can act as primers for degree programs, especially for students with no formal business training or background, which helps to diversify intakes of students who come from different professional backgrounds. Often, students who have taken the mini-courses can skip modules in an Online MBA and they sometimes get substantial tuition fee discounts.
Some Online MBA students will have taken at least one Credential of Readiness (CORe) course from Harvard Business School Online, often as a requirement of admission. The CORe courses consist of online modules in economics, accounting and business analytics, at a relatively low cost. But there are many other pathways to an Online MBA listed below.
The Open University Business School was the first business school in Europe to offer credits for its courses through MOOCs on the FutureLearn online education platform. Students can earn 15 academic credits towards the OU’s Online MBA by completing four MOOCs on the Digital Economy, by purchasing Certificates of Achievement through FutureLearn, and successfully completing an OU Assessment Module.View School Profile
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign allows potential students for its Online MBA to take a try-before-you-buy taster course that counts as academic credit towards the full degree if students decide to enrol. The courses are available for free initially on the Coursera digital platform, covering such subjects as corporate finance and investment, but students can pay $1,200 for academic credit towards the Online MBA. Candidates can then fast-track their MBA by skipping the modules they have already covered.View School Profile
University of the People (UoPeople) is part of Harvard Business School Online’s Collaborating Colleges program. This gives UoPeople students special access to HBS Online courses and needs-based scholarships. Participants can earn academic credits towards their UoPeople Online MBA degree.View School Profile
At Imperial College Business School, students from non-traditional backgrounds who have been admitted to the school’s highly-ranked Online MBA can take free online classes in finance, accounting and data analysis to get up to speed on the basics of business. The scheme has broadened the range of backgrounds in the Online MBA, including medical professionals and artists, who may otherwise not meet the admissions criteria.View School Profile
Thunderbird School of Global Management, which is owned by Arizona State University, launched a “MicroMasters” program in global business leadership on the edX online education platform. The MicroMasters grants academic credit towards Thunderbird’s online masters degree in applied leadership and management, which mimics an MBA. Students who take the MicroMasters receive a $9,000 discount on the tuition fees for the masters course.View School Profile
AGSM at UNSW Business School in Sydney offers a number of Graduate Certificates, part-time online qualifications that develop specialist skills that are sought after by employers, for instance innovation and digital technology. Students who wish to continue their studies will gain stackable credentials that can be used as academic credit for the school’s Online MBA degree, which offers specialisms in social impact, finance, technology and law.View School Profile
Kenan-Flagler Business School in North Carolina also offers a number of Graduate Certificate programs that allow working professionals to expand their skills and knowledge in niche areas such as data analytics and finance. They count towards the school’s Online MBA degree: after a student completes the certificate and is admitted to the MBA, 40 percent of the credits apply towards the degree program.View School Profile
Applicants who do not meet the Online MBA criteria at Macquarie University in Sydney can still apply to the degree through the Graduate Certificate of Global Business Practice, a pathway to the MBA degree. Students on the certificate program complete eight of 20 units covering leadership, strategy and more before matriculating into the Online MBA course.View School Profile