You may remember Kaitlin Dumont from the Q&A she and I did about her new role as university partner director at Kaplan. Incidentally, Kaitlin is also a student of Boston University’s online MBA program through the Questrom School of Business. Kaitlin is an evil smart person and very experienced professional. He could have had the choice of an MBA program. He chose to enroll in the online MBA at BU.
I have written that I think the creation of a low-level online degree program from a university with a global brand, such as Boston University, is the biggest story in higher education. The full cost of the BU online MBA is $24,000. I’d love to hear from Kaitlin about her experience so far in the program. Kaitlin generously agreed to answer my question.
Q: Why did you decide to take the BU online MBA when you will most likely be accepted into 20 full-time residential MBA programs?
A: In the last phase of my career, I was “adjacent to the MBA” in my work with executive education. I have had the pleasure and privilege of hearing from some of the best business school faculty in the world, but the two institutions I work for (Harvard Business School and Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth) only offer one full-time, residential MBA program—and circumstances to leave. the world of work and returning to being a full-time student have never been my path (especially as a mother of 1 and 3 year olds!). I chose the online MBA program through the Questrom School of Business at Boston University for three reasons.
- A balance between flexibility and rigor—the program was not only designed to fit into my life, it combined cutting-edge asynchronous learning with hands-on sessions and teamwork to create a rigorous and holistic learning experience (and I don’t claim to be an expert learning designer by any means). , but I’ve been close enough to some world-class instructional designers to know this is the real deal!).
- Integrated modular approach — instead of stand-alone courses on finance, accounting, marketing, strategy, etc., the BU online MBA program consists of six thematic and integrated modules that bring together all of these topic areas in a very high application base. method. For example, the first module, with the topic “Creating Value for Business and Society,” begins with a dialogue on the benefits of shareholder capitalism versus stakeholder capitalism, then progresses to managerial economics and classical industrial strategy before moving on to the information economy (including big data, machine learning). , two-sided networks and platforms), and finally bringing it all together with a team-based capstone project focused on incumbents versus newcomers to the auto industry. I am now in the second module, which is probably the most demanding, bringing together finance, accounting, operations, and statistics (I am proud to say that this liberal arts scholar can now run multivariable regression with the best of them!).
- Did we mention the price?
Q: In higher education, as in life, you get what you pay for. How can a $24,000 MBA be a high-quality degree? Don’t you lack the attention and individual faculty time with top professors, not to mention the exclusive peer network from a highly selective business school, that makes earning an MBA a worthwhile?
A: This fallacy may have been true a decade ago, but with advances in modern technological capabilities and superior online learning instructional design, I don’t think this argument holds water any longer. I guess in a higher-priced MBA program, especially a face-to-face degree with a smaller group, I might be able to grab a cup of coffee with faculty members and pick their brains like I did in undergraduate—however, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy faculty access was. , organize virtual hours and are always willing to answer questions (and if you can’t get in touch with a faculty member, there’s an amazing team of learning facilitators to support students).
I also think that the peer network in my experience is second to none! I felt closer to my team from module one than to some of the classmates I spent four years together at Tufts—and I never even met them in person! I attribute it to two things: (1) a very well-designed program that emphasizes teamwork, and (2) a group of like-minded professionals who are all here to achieve a common goal—a solid business education to support today’s career aspirations. . while juggling all the other demands of life (all my teammates in module one have children under 3 years old!).
I guess one could say I don’t know what I’m missing—but I’m close enough to an elite MBA program to have a good enough grasp, and while I might not feel this way if I decide to earn my living. At the start of my career, I don’t feel like I left any qualities behind for the value of flexibility and an application-based pedagogical approach.
Q: I’m trying to understand the lessons of a program like the BU online MBA for all of us in higher education. You have worked for an elite business school and are now working at Kaplan to partner with schools in online learning. What do you think we in the entire higher education ecosystem should learn from a program like your BU online MBA?
A: At the risk of being so clichéd, that’s Clay Christensen’s definition of disruptive innovation. Not to underestimate the top-tier MBA programs available, but markets are shifting across the higher education ecosystem, and students are increasingly focused on return on investment. BU and others have proven that high quality education can be delivered, flexibly and at lower cost, without compromising instructional design and quality instructional wisdom.
In my opinion, the way to achieve this is through partnerships. What many don’t know is that the BU online MBA was originally designed in partnership with edX (recently acquired by 2U). I’ve spent hours on the university side discussing what our value chain architecture is, what our core capabilities are and which capabilities we can/should maintain internally (or “create”), and which ones we can/should partner on ( or “borrow” or “buy”)? I believe there is a bias towards keeping all abilities at home and reinventing the wheel, so to speak, but the way to keep prices low and not give up quality (especially for degree programs) is to partner on core capabilities that allow for scale and relevance. Ultimately, I see this partnership model as the future of the higher education ecosystem, which is a big part of the reason I made the transition from the university side to the partner side.