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Where Can You Get A Real Online MBA? (Market Overview)

How can you get a full online MBA with Internet courses? Read our overview for business students.

Where Can You Get A Real Online MBA? (Market Overview)
Pictures: mcelpeth, rawpixel/pixabay

To get an MBA (Master of Business Administration) usually requires prior work experience.

MBA candidates often want to know whether they can complete a postgraduate management program while working.

Ideally this should be completely online, with digital teaching and online interaction. And without having to attend in-person classes.

What are your options?

Please note:

  1. Don't just rely on the "online" label! Some providers have simply relabeled their traditional distance education programs. You should check: Do you want to study with video lessons or would you also work with purely text-based scripts? Will you get 100% digital access or does the program require class attendance?
  2. Also make sure to check the academic title you will get. Is it really the desired MBA degree that you want to impress employers with? Is the degree program accredited?

Real Online MBAs

Complete online MBA programs similar to MOOCs (massive open online courses) are currently still in the development phase. Digital video lessons, online interaction via discussion forums, live webinars and even online business cases and exams are part of this.

The leading online course platforms are currently very active:

  • Coursera, the global leader in online courses, has been offering a full online MBA program for some time. It is called the iMBA and it leads to a degree from the University of Illinois. The course contains some of Coursera's Specializations. These are online course series in various subject areas. In addition, it includes further online interaction throughout the academic program. 
  • International runner-up as an online course provider is edX, known as the platform for Harvard and MIT courses. They have also developed their own online MBA program.
  • European online course provider FutureLearn (UK) also develops a digital MBA degree together with Coventry University.

Where Can You Get A Real Online MBA? (Market Overview)

But flexible learning opportunities are also available through existing courses offered by business schools on the Internet:

Online(?) Distance Learning

With distance learning courses, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between genuine online content and more traditional distance learning structures.

Online business schools still like to include in-person classroom sessions, and study materials are sometimes provided in a text-based format. You should therefore do some research on the program's structure - and then decide which online elements are indispensable for you. While in-person classes make you less flexible, they can be great for networking purposes.

In case of doubt, you should get information from the provider before enrolling!

There is, of course, a broad variety of distance and online Master of Business Administration programs. Some examples are: 

The Financial Times Online MBA Rankings

For a further evaluation of the various degree programs, the Financial Times' well-known ranking can be a good source (the table takes a couple of seconds to load).

Every year, the FT ranks management degree programs of the world's most important business schools.

Their list also has a filter option to display the share of online teaching for the MBA programs. Nevertheless, doing you own research before enrolling is always a good idea!

Key MBA Content (Without A Degree)

Let's say you are only interested in the content of a professional management education, but you don't want to pursue an academic degree. In this case, video-based online courses can go a long way:

  • The key modules of an MBA program are, for example, included in an online course series from the University of Maryland at edX. Here, you can learn about topics such as marketing, accounting, leadership, and strategy with individual video course packages. (MBA Core Curriculum)
  • Former Goldman Sachs banker and venture capitalist Chris Haroun offers his version of the most important MBA content in a short online crash course at Udemy. It includes 8 hours of video lessons and additional materials. It's called An Entire MBA In One Course.
  • A further online project that received some media attention is called the No-Pay MBA. It's the story of an online student trying to put together a study program by combining free video courses. But note that you may need to spend money immediately, because the book including all the details is recommended for purchase when you start.
  • Another program with free content is Smartly's Online MBA.  Note, however, that the program is not yet accredited and admissions are rather restrictive.

More than 1,000 online courses on business and management topics are listed in our course directory. Many of them are accessible for free.

The University of Maryland's intro video

Be Prepared: Improving Your MBA Performance

Another way to use the Internet for a successful management degree is to take additional training courses.

This includes the University of London's courses at Coursera and the Imperial College Business School's program at edX.

The courses explore the fundamentals of finance, statistics, mathematics and other key topics. This can also be a great learning opportunity for regular business students.

International students working on their English language skills can take additional online language courses (Academic English or Business English).

GMAT Courses and Admission Procedures

Online courses can also be useful for preparing a successful application.

For example, you can get tips on business schools' admission procedures. Or enroll in an online training to improve your GMAT score.

Our Conclusion:

  1. The clear advantage of online programs is their flexibility. In addition, costs are often lower than on campus. You can thus get the title as an additional qualification for your resume while continuing to work. One disadvantage is that networking opportunities will be reduced.
  2. There are some real online MBA programs, but most programs are slightly enhanced versions of traditional distance learning courses. The share of actual online teaching is very different between providers.
  3. To decide how much online teaching you prefer is often a choice between greater flexibility and more frequent networking opportunities. Regarding the study materials, students usually prefer providers with modern online resources (including video lessons).
  4. For management education purposes, high-quality online courses may also be suitable. But they don't end with a formal academic degree.

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