Free Courses from Top Business Schools

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on July 14, 2011

How much is the cheapest MBA from the top-10 business school cost? How about free?

Hundreds of schools - the top business schools included - have put lectures, seminars and courses online or on iTunes, offering the general public a chance to sample their curriculum, listen to their professors and pretend they’re in class. Take or listen to enough of them and you may well craft yourself the rough equivalent of an MBA. Unfortunately, there’s no diploma printout.

The b-schools on Bloomberg Businessweek’s list of the top-10 full-time MBA programs all have podcasts on iTunes U, which are searchable by university, school or program.

Take lessons on the Japanese economy from Columbia Business School (Columbia Full-Time MBA Profile) or entrepreneurship from Stanford Graduate School of Business (Stanford Full-Time MBA Profile). Listen to a discussion about case methods from Harvard Business School (Harvard Full-Time MBA Profile). If you’re short on time, Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management (Kellogg Full-Time MBA Profile) has interviews with professors that are only 10 minutes long to a half-hour. Use these podcasts to brush up on your knowledge, learn something new or get ready for b-school as you work out or commute.

Fewer of the top-10 schools offer opencourseware, which are online classes taught and recorded by those schools’ professors and are open to the public.

MIT’s Sloan School of Management (Sloan Full-Time MBA Profile) famously has more than 100 courses, ranging from math to communication to ethics. Many of Columbia’s free courses require a student ID, but the school does offer a public speaking course among its many offerings. The economic courses at the University of California, Berkley, aren’t part of the Haas School of Business (Haas Full-Time MBA Profile), but it’s a subject that most b-school applicants should know. The Wharton School (Wharton Full-Time MBA Profile) at the University of Pennsylvania has Knowledge@Wharton, which publishes Wharton research about various topics, from real estate to health economics and human resources.

—Kiah Lau Haslett

Reader Comments

czander

July 14, 2011 5:47 PM

These schools are trying to adapt to the Gen Y. Make it cheap and put it online, and prestigious and if the student can offer “try before you buy,” they will love it. This is what The London School of Business and Finance is doing: Take classes online with the best faculty through an innovative and familiar delivery channel (Facebook) at no cost and then give the GenY’s the Pièce de résistance. Let them test the quality of the course before putting their money down. That is, take the course for free, and if one wants the credit then pay. They expect 500,000 to go online the first year.
Why will this work? Gen Y’s do not like the concept of fixed time, they prefer to decide when things happen and they do not like to be told by some authority that they will be punished if they do not show up when expected. At the University of Florida students live in (summer camp) dorms and take their classes online. GenY’s love to travel and live in a world with no boundaries and they welcome alternative cultures. They avoid being stuck in one place for a period of time, no traffic jams on the way to class, no living in an uncivilized dorm rooms with strangers and no standing on line for showers, food, books, advisement, registration, etc. If the student can afford it they can do their degree in Mumbai, London, Costa Rica, etc. It’s no longer “a year abroad” its four years abroad. If a student cannot afford it then it’s off to work and to the community college for two years. The key is they want to be able to obtain their education their way; full time, part time and they can do their degree in 4 years or 14 years and they will avoid the one thing they hate- debt. Their goal is to obtain a viable degree (not necessarily an education) without debt.

Ram Parasuraman

July 14, 2011 11:31 PM

Coursework is great for reference, but real business education comes from case study and more importantly from class discussion and debate. Above all, it comes from application and experience.

Coursework by itself is meaningless.

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Read daily reports from BusinessWeek editors and reporters Louis Lavelle, Geoff Gloeckler, Alison Damast and Francesca Di Meglio and boost your chances of getting into your best-fit B-school.

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