A while back, I shared with you the story of a student cobbling together a top tier MBA for little to no cost aka the “No Pay MBA”. I had some reservations that make-shift MBAs would gain mainstream traction, but several people insisted this is the future of business education. Recent news of MBA education taking another step in the direction of a “freemium” delivery model suggests those people had it right all along.
I came across this article in Poets and Quants highlighting that the University of Illinois plans to offer the courses for its new $20,000 MBA program to the public for free. As with previous efforts to compile an MBA curriculum for free, you won’t get the degree or any of the student or faculty interaction that some would argue makes MBA programs worth their hefty price tags. What you will get is a continuous program designed for each course to complement the others.
Now instead of you having to search and find one course from Harvard on a topic and another course from MIT on a different topic, you now have a ready-made curriculum with content you can obtain for free. So if you fall in the “education is about the experience” camp instead of the more pragmatic “education is about making more money” school of thought, where I hang out, this should be right up your alley.
A top-50 MBA for $20K is pretty impressive in its own right
I glanced past this at first read, but did you notice the enhanced or premium version of this MBA program costs “only” $20,000? That alone is a game changing announcement. Giving away the content to this trailblazing program for free is nothing short of epic. Don’t get me wrong – $20K is still a nice chunk of change but less than half of what people are paying for MBAs now.
Does being free automatically make taking MBA classes worth your time?
It still kind of depends on what you want to accomplish by investing the time in taking the MBA coursework. Are you looking for a different way to stimulate your brain and enhance your overall knowledge base? I would say jump on the free MBA ASAP before they raise the price.
Are you looking to get a new job? Immersing yourself in free coursework might help, but the no pay MBA makes for a more interesting conversation-starter because of the creativity behind it.
For this free MBA to help you land a new gig, it would probably work better for you to have some time to implement your new book-smarts on the job before trying to make a career change. Otherwise, where you would you put it on your resume? It doesn’t fit in education because you have no degree or any other type of certificate of completion at the end. Maybe you could get away with putting in an additional skills section.
This mission, should you choose to accept it, gains credibility from the fact that U of I is a top-50 MBA program, but until we start seeing top-10 MBA programs doing the same and being well received by top-10 employers, the students who take this new-age approach to business school in an attempt to get rich quick may be disappointed with their results.
Then again, I could be wrong. The freemium business model seems to work well for the seller and customer in a lot of other businesses. Why not in higher education?