The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently launched its online MBA program—the iMBA. Offered through the College of Business at a cost of around $22,000 per academic year, the program is one of the most affordable online MBA programs in the U.S. Though affordable, there are still those who might be on the fence about whether or not they would like to enroll in a full-time MBA program. Others might prefer to take just a few classes to enhance their resume or for knowledge’s sake. Still, others might like the idea of auditing an entire curriculum risk free. All of these options are possible today thanks to MOOCs (massive open online courses).
In partnership with the online education platform Coursera, Illinois now offers free access to its full iMBA program. The school also offers free access to 84 other open online courses, 12 specializations, and another full degree program—the Master of Computer Science in Data Science. Accessible iMBA specializations include Digital Marketing, Strategic Leadership, Managerial Economics and Business Analysis, and Financial Management.
Though accessing the curriculum through Coursera MOOCs is free, those who complete the program can pay to receive a Coursera “Verified Certificate,” indicating successful completion.
According to a U.S. News & World Report Education article, “unlike the free certificates that the companies offered in the past, verification ensures the authenticity and value of the credential. Those pursuing the verified certificate option must prove their identity through photo and government-issued ID validation processes via webcam, and pass the class by meeting exam and assignment requirements.”
Students who complete the iMBA program via Coursera MOOCs do have the opportunity to earn the official iMBA degree. All they have to do is get accepted into the program, and pay the $22,000/year tuition. The price tag may sound steep at first, but as mentioned, the Illinois iMBA is one of the most affordable online MBA programs in the nation. Just think, according to Crain’s, tuition costs for online MBA programs at established schools such as Tepper School of Business, Kenan-Flagler Business School, and Olin Graduate School of Business, are anywhere from $78,200 to $108,080. The online programs at other top schools could cost even more.
Illinois offers other options for students who would like to earn a credential at a lower cost. Non-credit certificates in any of the school’s eight different business specialties are available as well as individual MBA-level courses for credit. For-credit courses are $250 per credit hour plus a fee from Coursera that covers the cost of ID verification. Certificate costs vary.
Since the Illinois iMBA launched in 2016, more than 950,000 people have signed up for free versions of the courses, and 27,000 have paid a fee to receive a Verified Certificate. Dozens are paying to take individual courses.
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Haynie, Devon. "U.S. News Data: Online MBA Not Always a Cheaper Option." U.S. News & World Report Higher Education. U.S. News & World Report, L.P., 30 Mar. 2015. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.
"MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses)." Online.Illinois.edu. University of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign, 2017. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.
Straumsheim, Carl. "Dream Big, Start Small: The University of Illinois's IMBA Program Offers Encouraging News about the Viability of Graduate Degrees Built on MOOCs." InsideHigherEd.com. Inside Higher Ed, 07 Oct. 2016. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.
"U of I Is Letting You Take All Its MBA Courses Online—for Free." Crain's Chicago Business. Crain Communication, Inc., 05 May 2015. Web. 24 Mar. 2017.