Is the future of MBA online?

BUSINESS & MANAGEMENT   |   3 minutes  |   March 15, 2017

Global MBA applications are on the rise for the first time in five years. International accreditation body, the Association of MBAs (AMBA), reported a five percent growth in applications from 2014 to 2015.1 This increased demand is creating fierce competition for traditional MBA acceptance as more students turn to MBA online courses and bridging programmes.

Increased global competition leads to increase in MBA applications

Business management-Future-of-MBA-online-increased MBA applications

AMBA chief executive, Andrew Main Wilson, cited increased competition stemming from globalisation as a potential driver for this iconic rise in MBA applications, following a 14 percent decline between 2010 and 2014. MBA applications in Africa, however, increased by four percent over the period, testifying to the prestige still placed on the MBA in developing nations.1

As the pool of MBA applicants and competition for programme entry rise, prospective students have started to invest alternative options. These include online studying, bridging courses and core competency programmes.

The rise of MBA online courses

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Whilst traditional MBA applications only experienced an increase in demand recently, the number of schools offering online MBA-level programmes grew by 44 percent from 2011 to 2016.2

In addition to lower tuition fees, studying an MBA online has the allure of flexible learning and being able to implement one’s learnings immediately in the business environment.

This is why the decision was made by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) to launch the MBA Essentials online certificate course. The course aims to provide you with the vital MBA hard and soft skills necessary to succeed in the contemporary business environment without having to take time out of a busy, dynamic career to pursue a traditional route.

The Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), owners of the GMAT entry test, believe that the steadily increasing numbers of online MBA applicants can be attributed to a decline in employer funding for traditional MBA degrees – with funding shifting toward digital skills development.3

This could not make more sense.

Why would organisations pay more for their employees to study a traditional MBA, when MBA online degrees carry as much weight, costs less and allow the employees to continue working whilst studying?

This adds credence to the Princeton Review survey that found 44 percent of students received a promotion whilst studying their online MBA.4

MBA online courses in Africa

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South Africa became the first country to offer an MBA outside of the United States, in 1949.5

In 2016, headlines were made again when the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) became the first South African business school to offer real-time online lectures for its MBA – allowing students to study from anywhere in the world.

Using real-time streaming, students abroad are able to participate in classroom discussions, as if physically present, and are able to benefit from a flexible learning structure.

In early 2017, Stellenbosch University private company, the University of Stellenbosch Business School – Executive Development (USB-ED), also achieved the status of pioneer: becoming the first institution in Africa to offer an MBA Essentials online short course.

This begs the question:

What is an MBA Essentials short course?

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The MBA Essentials is a dual-purpose online short course, preparing students for a full MBA degree and granting working professionals the opportunity to expand their managerial skill sets and professional networks.

Presented in partnership with digital education leaders, GetSmarter, the course covers three of the most challenging subjects of any MBA: economics, quantitative methods, and managerial accounting. These three topics also form the foundation of business operations and strategy – giving students the knowledge and tools to navigate the complexities of their business environment and make better managerial decisions.

Using a practical, case study approach – with the option to use one’s own business as a case study – students learn from industry professionals and MBA graduates over the course of 16 weeks, entirely online and at their own pace.

Moreover, the MBA Essentials is a fraction of the price of a traditional or online MBA, allowing those who cannot afford an MBA at present to gain some of the harder business skills learned during the Master’s programme.

Those who can afford it are able to gauge their appetite for the full degree, with an understanding of the level of commitment required, and those enrolling in an MBA can use the course as a springboard for the challenging subjects they’re destined to face.

This offers a unique opportunity for organisations that fund employees’ MBAs:

Business management-Future-of-MBA-online-opportunity for employers

Whilst MBA online courses help cut costs compared to traditional MBAs, the MBA Essentials could be used as a screening process, allowing organisations to:

  • avoid investing in staff who don’t complete their MBAs,
  • identify potential MBA achievers and
  • offer the allusive Master’s programme to a wider employee pool.

As learning continues to shift online, the number of online MBAs on offer is set to continue increasing as individuals and companies alike look to save on tuition and reap the benefits of flexible learning programmes. Similarly, we can expect to see an uptake of bridging and core competency programmes – such as the MBA Essentials – as education becomes available to a wider and more diverse audience.

Ready to prepare yourself for the future of the MBA?

Assess your preparedness for a full-time MBA with the MBA Essentials online short course.