Prestigious European MBA Program Moves Into Online Format

4c02047099e764feLast week, the new dean of INSEAD – one of Europe’s most prestigious business schools – was in close discussions with technology geeks at his university.

The university has decided to follow the growing trend in online MBAs and to jump into the online market feet first.

The dean’s decision to make the jump to the online MBA world was done in part due to the announcement by Harvard Business School last month that it would move even more into MOOCs – massive online open courses. Other business schools in the US greeted the news with caution, but for INSEAD, the choice was easy – full steam ahead start to incorporate online classes into its MBA program.

Dean Illian has directed several colleagues in the business department at INSEAD to focus intently on using more digital technology to teach the MBA program.

There is not a plan yet to offer a full online MBA, but it appears likely that this could happen down the road.

The business school feels as much pressure to adapt to the online MBA world as Illian. Some professors there have been reluctant to teach online, but Ilian feels that it is essential.

The dean has his eye on a highly digital future for his university. He notes that full digitalization of education services is a top priority. The school already delivers some of its content in online format, but much more is on the way.

Many other top business schools have moved to online MBAs for at least part of their offerings. Some schools in the US even offer some MBA classes for free online, such as Harvard and MIT.

INSEAD is not going to offer just MOOCs, but some may be on the menu in coming years. The school states that it has the funds to do several MOOCs right now if it wants to, but plans to hold off for two years.

The issue for INSEAD is to find the proper balance between traditional business education and online digital education. Many of the programs at the university are aimed at executives with many years of experience, too. The university wants to diversify its MBA offerings so that it will appeal both to experienced professionals, and those with just a few years of work experience.

INSEAD is trying to adapt to the changing MBA world by figuring out the elements that it can take out of the classroom and move online, and also determine which parts should stay in the classroom.

Some experts say that the biggest threat to a school such as INSEAD is that the knowledge that they teach in their MBA classes is outdated fast. This is another reason for the university to start to move online and revamp many of its offerings.

Online MBAs More Accepted by Employers

One of the reasons that online MBAs are becoming more popular is that employers are beginning to accept them as legitimate alternatives to a traditional MBA.

According to a study published in 2012 by the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, more employers are open to hiring graduates of online programs. The authors of the study interviewed several dozen hiring managers from some of the top companies in Wisconsin. Some industries included health care, financial and insurance. About 50% of those surveyed stated that the format in which the degree was earned was not a factor in hiring.

The majority by far stated that it did not matter if a potential employee had earned an MBA from the University of Wisconsin’s Online MBA program, or from its full time, on campus version.

Another unusual finding was that of the 25 employers interviewed, all of them stated that it did not matter to them if students had earned their online MBA from a for profit or non profit organization.

On the down side, about 50% of employers who were surveyed stated that they still are not sure about the quality of the classroom experienced offered in many online MBA programs. In this case, some still favored the regular, in person MBA program.

Still, the survey indicated that job recruiters with those views are not as prevalent, as more employers are open minded about potential hires who have online MBA degrees. One of the recruiters surveyed, Liberty Mutual Insurance, noted that the firm had recently hired a graduate from an online MBA program in 2012, and would hire another in 2013.

It will be interesting to see how online MBAs continue to be accepted in the next few years. Will current trends hold? We’ll see!

In the meantime, as you look into an online MBA, keep in mind the great ways you can use Skype in your online MBA program, and also 25 apps that you can use as you earn your MBA.