The drag-and-drop MBA

A few days ago, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania put the first year of its MBA online for free (with the help of Coursera). This is hugely significant and here’s why.

Currently ranked no. 3 in the world by the Financial Times behind Harvard and Stanford, Wharton doesn’t need to do this. Whether it is philanthropy, a profiling exercise, or a nice little earner at some stage because of the huge volumes involved, this does not affect core business. The exclusive on campus MBA degree will still cost in the region of USD200k and anyone completing the freebie online would not get any advance standing into the on campus program even if you pay the USD49 per course for a Verified Certificate.

But this is where it gets interesting. Around 700,000 students in 173 countries have already enrolled in Wharton MOOCs which, staggeringly, is more than the combined enrolment in Wharton’s traditional MBA and undergraduate programs since the school’s founding in 1881! Now if, hypothetically speaking, you were a second or third tier business school struggling for student numbers, is there a possibility you might be tempted to give credit for Wharton MBA courses if they were accompanied by a Verified Certificate? The courses are from Wharton after all.

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