Friday, March 14, 2014 at 12am

Online MBA Threat to Schools, Warns Berkeley Haas Dean: MBA News

Online MBA Threat to Schools, Warns Berkeley Haas Dean: MBA News main image

The dean of UC Berkeley Haas School of Business believes that US business schools are under threat from online MBA programs, predicting that half could be out of business within a decade – or even five years.

Dean Richard Lyons believes that the revenue from part-time and EMBA programs at less prestigious schools will be seriously diminished, as more highly-ranked business schools move to offer online MBA programs.

Part-time and EMBA programs are crucial for income at many business schools, which typically offer far lower levels of financial aid for these formats. But while typically those looking at such programs might look to local schools, increasing opportunities to get a bigger name on one’s résumé through online MBA provision means that these local schools look set to lose a good deal of their income, the Berkeley Haas dean warns.

Entry criteria for online MBA programs at top schools tend to not be too far removed from full-time requirements. Therefore, the less well-known schools will be left competing for less competitive students, which will obviously have negative consequences on reputation and the viability of their operations as a whole.

Will elite schools offer online MBA programs?

While the most  top business schools, like Berkeley Haas, are yet to offer online MBA programs, with the on-campus experience still considered to play too great a role in the MBA experience, many – such as Wharton and MIT Sloan – have engaged with the online world through MOOCs and non-degree education. Whether or not these will evolve into full degree programs over time remains to be seen, but many industry players believe it is only a matter of time.

However, the standard of business school offering online programs has certainly gone up, as has student interest, with the for-profit ‘degree mill’ online education paradigm becoming a thing of the past.

With the online MBA space still young, it remains to be seen whether or not the Berkeley Haas dean’s predictions come true.

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