To bring its MBA program online, Tepper used off-the-shelf technology: largely Canvas and Vidio for online conferencing. “It turns out the technology is pretty much there. We have just taken off-the-shelf technology and it works very well in the online environment.”
CARNEGIE MELLON’S TEPPER IS THE ‘ANTI-MOOC SCHOOL’
Monroe is less positive about Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, an area that Tepper is intent to watch from the sidelines. Recently, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School began offering four of its core MBA courses for free as MOOCs. Wharton’s Foundation Series, offered through Coursera, covers corporate finance, marketing, financial accounting, and operations management.
Ask to comment on Wharton’s decision, Monroe says, “Let me put it this way: we don’t really know how this is going to play out. There is a sense that there are a lot of good introductory finance courses in the world. That intro finance course is probably not what differentiates an MBA program from another. it’s the more advanced electives and the opportunity to bump into a lot of bright people. a MOOC is not going to recreate that experience. It wouldn’t make an MBA unnecessary.
“We are the anti-MOOC school,” he says. “We are trying to recreate the MBA community we have here. We believe that is a big part of our secret sauce in addition to our quant focus and leadership focus. You are a person here, not an anonymous number sitting in a sea of students in a lecture hall. In a program like ours, you get a curated set of information that we think is critical to complete your MBA. Professors aren’t just putting some videos up. They are working with you as you wrestle through the material, and you have this cohort going through it with you. So what you learn in accounting one is relevant to accounting two and builds on each other. That is hard to replicate on your own, even with high profile MOOC providers.”
MORE TOP BUSINESS SCHOOLS EXPECTED TO LAUNCH ONLINE MBA PROGRAMS
Given the highly positive experience for Tepper’s new online MBA so far, Monroe says he expects more competition to surface in the near future. In recent months, the University of Maryland has announced an online MBA offering and Villanova University’s business school also has one in the works. At least 22 of the top 100 business schools in the U.S. now offer online MBA options, including Arizona State University, Babson College and the University of Georgia.
“I would be astounded if we do not see more schools do online MBA programs,” predicts Monroe. ”I don’t know if Harvard would ever offer one, but we are going to see a lot more of the strongest schools move this way. I think there is going to be demand from students requesting it. More will take the approach where there is a blurry line between full-time, part-time and online programs. Done properly, you can improve the experience of students on-site.”