Getting a Wharton MBA involves taking off from work for two years, moving to Philadelphia, and spending about $200,000 on tuition and expenses. Now, with the addition of three new courses on the online learning platform Coursera, you can get much of the course content for free.
While you won’t get the full Wharton on-campus experience—or an internship, career services, or alumni network, for that matter—the new courses in financial accounting, marketing, and corporate finance duplicate much of what you would learn during your first year at the elite business school, says Don Huesman, managing director of the innovation group at Wharton.
A fourth course in operations management that’s been offered since September rounds out the “foundation series.” Along with five existing electives, which include courses on sports business and health care, the new offerings make it possible to learn much of what students in Wharton’s full-time MBA program learn, and from the same professors. All nine courses are massive open online courses, or MOOCs, expected to attract students from around the world.
“This is the first time that a business school has bundled a collection of MOOCs together in this fashion,” Huesman says of the foundation series. “We’re taking our core required classes in the MBA program, with the same instructors, to provide those same core concepts.”
All four courses in the foundation series are 6 to 10 weeks long, with the first, financial accounting, starting on Sept. 16. Each consists of a combination of prerecorded lectures and interactive features, such as discussion boards that allow students to ask questions and get answers from the professor or an assistant.
Huesman says the MOOCs are not watered-down versions of Wharton’s on-campus classes. In fact, some professors at the school are using the MOOC content in their own classes, asking students to watch the lessons beforehand so that class time can be used for discussion—a practice known as “flipping” a class.
Students in all four courses are eligible, for a $49 fee, to receive a verified electronic certificate indicating that they’ve completed the course requirements.
Huesman says Wharton has no plans to accept the certificates for course credit should students subsequently enroll at Wharton, adding that “there’s a very different experience that happens in a two-year immersion in a community of scholars that culminates in a degree.” But he says what students learn in the online classes can be used to “test out” of required courses just as those with knowledge of the subject matter can do now.
About 700,000 students in 173 countries have already enrolled in Wharton MOOCs, more than the combined enrollment in Wharton’s traditional MBA and undergraduate programs since the school’s founding in 1881, according to Huesman. Additional courses are in the pipeline, he says.