An MBA degree can help you achieve a leadership position at work, help get you hired at your dream company, help earn you more money and/or help you find a more fulfilling career. Each program is an investment, though. Most full-time MBA programs take two years to complete and there might be a financial investment if you don’t get your tuition reimbursed by work, grants or scholarships.
Considering the time and money that’s required to dedicate to an MBA program, you might be wondering, “Should I get an MBA?” One way to get closer to understanding if an MBA program is the right fit for you is to try an MBA-themed MOOC program.
What is an MOOC?
“MOOC” stands for “massive open online courses.” These are free education courses that provide online students with the opportunity to further their education in topics they’re interested in. Many well-known universities participate in MOOC platforms, sharing their teaching methods and curriculum for free around the world.
Studying for one or many MOOC courses can help you advance your knowledge in a subject you’re passionate about. In some cases, you can even earn college credit for completing an MOOC. Upon completion of a MOOC, students may also receive a free credential or may have the option to pay for an identity-verified certificate, which they can list on a resume or professional profile such as a LinkedIn.
The Harvard Business Review reports more than 25 million people around the globe participated in MOOCs in just three years. Of those who complete the courses, 72 percent report career benefits, and 61 percent report educational benefits. Some of the popular MOOC brands are Coursera and EdX.
Participating in a business-themed MOOC can also clue you into the types of topics you’ll learn about in an MBA program. You can discover whether or not business topics like management, accounting, supply chain management, and entrepreneurship are ones that you want to pursue.
How Are MOOCs Structured?
MOOCs are typically free. There are no books to buy, no equipment to purchase and no requirements to travel to a lecture. All participants need is a working computer. There usually aren’t any prerequisites to enroll, either.
MOOCs typically last anywhere between three to 12 weeks. Like online MBA programs, content is available 24/7, from any connected device. There may be instances in some MOOCs when live webinars occur, during which participants can interact with each other, but even those are usually available for viewing after completion.
Lessons are delivered in a variety of ways, including:
- Reading materials
- Slideshows and animations
- Audio overviews and interviews
- Images and infographics
Students assess their progress by submitting assignments, participating in discussion activities and/or taking exams with multiple-choice questions. Some platforms may charge to take quizzes and submit assignments. Sometimes, grading is completed through self-evaluation. Students participating in MOOCs will usually need to plan on around two hours of study time a week.
There may also be a student forum where students can connect with peers, ask questions and get feedback.
Often, you can pay a fee for a certificate if you want tangible evidence to hold on to.
Examples of MOOC MBA Themed Programs
There are many MOOCs for courses that are just like the ones you’d take in a paid MBA program. Laurie Pickard, the founder of nopaymba.com, used MOOCs to complete a full structure of courses comparable to a reputable MBA program. Some courses she recommends to get started with include:
- Introduction to Project Management, from The University of Adelaide
- Introduction to Marketing, from The University of Pennsylvania
- Corporate Finance, from New York University
- Successful Negotiation: Essential Strategies and Skills, from The University of Michigan
- Foundations of Business Strategy, from The University of Virginia
These courses are all from universities offering on-campus MBAs and give online students the opportunity to get back in learning mode, even while continuing to work full-time or while tending to other responsibilities.
If there’s an MBA school you’re thinking about attending, do an online search for the school’s name and “MOOC.” That school might offer MBA-themed MOOC courses so you can see exactly what a class there will be like.
Is an MOOC Right for You?
You have nothing to lose by taking an MOOC. You can go the completely free route, take the class, learn the subjects and reap the knowledge. You may have to pay some programs to get a credential, but the free benefits you gain include:
- Increased knowledge
- New skills to implement in your current work position
- Insights into whether or not going back to school is something you’re ready for and want
- A perspective into the types of courses and instruction you’ll receive at various universities from around the world
If you’re thinking about an online MBA program, taking an MOOC also clues you in to what learning in an online platform is like. MOOCs are structured similarly or identically to online MBA courses.
There’s no commitment required for completing an MOOC after you’ve started. You may decide after the first lesson that an MOOC just isn’t right for you. Maybe an on-campus MBA program will be a better fit, or maybe you’re not ready to go back to school just yet.
Want more tips on the world of MBAs? Get them here.