"Our MBA is a non-degree program" - Why the buyer should beware


Duncan

I have a fascinating exchange of emails with the business school linked to an ancient European university (the oldest - Bologna) today. They have a range of executive and online masters delivered by a business school which is was founded by some commercial partners together with the university but organizationally separate (like BMW own Mini, but a Mini is not a BMW).


The schools' executive masters are non-degree programs without academic credits (ECTS) and for which a diploma is issued by Bologna Business School that is not a state-recognised degree. For example, their Hybrid MBA is a non-degree program so, consequently, it is not a Laurea Magistrale which employers would easily understand.


This approach of awarding either traditional degrees or non-degree diplomas with degree nomenclature, common to some other schools in mainland Europe, is very hard to navigate. I imagine that even many students inside the course might not even have worked out that this 'masters' is not a real degree. Applicants need to really ask what the legal status is of the degree!

 One heavy-handed tip: you can even ask for a photo of the diploma so they can compare it to what 'real' degrees from the university look like. On this page, for example, the first certificate is from Alma (the prior name of BBS) and the second is from the University itself. Clearly, very different diplomas. https://www.strategiapmi.it/gianluca-celli-certificazioni/

[Edited by Duncan on Dec 09, 2021]

I have a fascinating exchange of emails with the business school linked to an ancient European university (the oldest - Bologna) today. They have a range of executive and online masters delivered by a business school which is was founded by some commercial partners together with the university but organizationally separate (like BMW own Mini, but a Mini is not a BMW). <br><br>
The schools' executive masters are non-degree programs without academic credits (ECTS) and for which a diploma is issued by Bologna Business School that is not a state-recognised degree. For example, their Hybrid MBA is a non-degree program so, consequently, it is not a Laurea Magistrale which employers would easily understand.<br><br>
This approach of awarding either traditional degrees or non-degree diplomas with degree nomenclature, common to some other schools in mainland Europe, is very hard to navigate. I imagine that even many students inside the course might not even have worked out that this 'masters' is not a real degree. Applicants need to really ask what the legal status is of the degree!<br><br>&nbsp;One heavy-handed tip: you can even ask for a photo of the diploma so they can compare it to what 'real' degrees from the university look like. On this page, for example, the first certificate is from Alma (the prior name of BBS) and the second is from the University itself. Clearly, very different diplomas. https://www.strategiapmi.it/gianluca-celli-certificazioni/
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Appel Guy

Hi Ducan, sounds almost like a scam.
Statement of BBS
"Bologna Business School is a Foundation participated by the University of Bologna and by very important private companies, that goes under the name of “Fondazione Bologna University Business School”. Therefore, it is the structure of reference of the University of Bologna and other members for post-graduate and post-experience management training. Bologna Business School delivers both kind of masters, university masters when acting as the structure of reference of the University of Bologna, in which case the masters are degree programs and the certificates are issued directly by the University of Bologna, and executive masters, which are non-degree programs without CFU and for which a Master’s Diploma is issued by Bologna Business School."
The tuition fee neglects the local tax surcharge. The Italian Value Added tax amounts to 22% on top of the tuition. They are quoting net prices. Seriously, Equis accreditation for this scam? 

[Edited by Appel Guy on Dec 10, 2021]

Hi Ducan, sounds almost like a scam.<br>Statement of BBS<br>"Bologna Business School is a Foundation participated by the University of Bologna and by very important private companies, that goes under the name of “Fondazione Bologna University Business School”. Therefore, it is the structure of reference of the University of Bologna and other members for post-graduate and post-experience management training. Bologna Business School delivers both kind of masters, university masters when acting as the structure of reference of the University of Bologna, in which case the masters are degree programs and the certificates are issued directly by the University of Bologna, and executive masters, which are&nbsp;non-degree programs&nbsp;without CFU and for which a Master’s Diploma is issued by Bologna Business School."<br>The tuition fee neglects the local tax surcharge. The Italian Value Added tax amounts to 22% on top of the tuition. They are quoting net prices.&nbsp;Seriously, Equis accreditation for this scam?&nbsp;
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Duncan

Yeah, it would be interesting to find out exactly what the barrier is for them to issue state-recognised degrees. 

For context, CFUs are the Italian version of the academic credits known as ECTS in other countries. 

PS Personally, I would also be curious to know exactly who owns BBS (in particular, who the major shareholders are), what the financial relationship is between the school and the university, and whether it is a non-profilt. 

[Edited by Duncan on Dec 11, 2021]

Yeah, it would be interesting to find out exactly what the barrier is for them to issue state-recognised degrees.&nbsp;<br><br>For context, CFUs are the Italian version of the academic credits known as ECTS in other countries.&nbsp;<br><br>PS Personally, I would also be curious to know exactly who owns BBS (in particular, who the major shareholders are), what the financial relationship is between the school and the university, and whether it is a non-profilt.&nbsp;
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MKennedy

Yes, that's becoming a problem with European degrees.  It's hard to figure out which one is a real degree.  In Spain, they have the titulo propio (own degree), which is a masters issued by the university but not officially recognized by the government.  These are offered by the best Spanish universities so you have to be careful and ask if the masters being offered is "official" or a propio.  In France, the elite Grandes Ecoles are part of the confusion, offering similar unrecognized degrees alongside their regular official degrees.  For example, ESCP offers a Masters in International Business (MIB) which is not a real masters degree and is not recognized by the government.  

Yes, that's becoming a problem with European degrees.&nbsp; It's hard to figure out which one is a real degree.&nbsp; In Spain, they have the titulo propio (own degree), which is a masters issued by the university but not officially recognized by the government.&nbsp; These are offered by the best Spanish universities so you have to be careful and ask if the masters being offered is "official" or a propio.&nbsp; In France, the elite Grandes Ecoles are part of the confusion, offering similar unrecognized degrees alongside their regular official degrees.&nbsp; For example, ESCP offers a Masters in International Business (MIB) which is not a real masters degree and is not recognized by the government.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br>
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Duncan

Indeed. I was looking at the Esade/Bocconi EMMS degree and it took a bit of digging to see the extra steps needed to get a state-recognised degree. For some people it might not matter but for people looking to move into the country it could make a difference. 

Indeed. I was looking at the Esade/Bocconi EMMS degree and it took a bit of digging to see the extra steps needed to get a state-recognised degree. For some people it might not matter but for people looking to move into the country it could make a difference.&nbsp;
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MKennedy

Indeed. I was looking at the Esade/Bocconi EMMS degree and it took a bit of digging to see the extra steps needed to get a state-recognised degree. For some people it might not matter but for people looking to move into the country it could make a difference. 



Yes, those Spanish universities are sneaky when it comes to their offerings.  You need to explicitly ask them about whether the degree is a propio (unofficial degrees with a different looking degree certificate) or an official degree recognized by the government. 


On ESADE's website, you will find a tiny asterisk * on each program that is official.  Those programs that don't have an asterisk are propio qualifications.  That is sneaky behaviour that is no different from US for-profit schools.  How many people outside Spain actually know what a propio is? 



Imagine spending 36K on the ESADE EMMS degree and finding out you can't use it to get into a doctorate.  And worse, if your UK or US employer asks for a credential evaluation, you will find bodies like UK Naric/Enic and WES will say your qualification is "unrecognized". 

www.esade.edu/en/programmes


[Edited by MKennedy on Dec 12, 2021]

[quote]Indeed. I was looking at the Esade/Bocconi EMMS degree and it took a bit of digging to see the extra steps needed to get a state-recognised degree. For some people it might not matter but for people looking to move into the country it could make a difference.&nbsp; [/quote]<br><br><br>Yes, those Spanish universities are sneaky when it comes to their offerings.&nbsp; You need to explicitly ask them about whether the degree is a propio (unofficial degrees with a different looking degree certificate) or an official degree recognized by the government.&nbsp; <br><br><br>On ESADE's website, you will find a tiny asterisk * on each program that is official.&nbsp; Those programs that don't have an asterisk are propio qualifications.&nbsp; That is sneaky behaviour that is no different from US for-profit schools.&nbsp; How many people outside Spain actually know what a propio is?&nbsp; <br><br><br><br>Imagine spending 36K on the ESADE EMMS degree and finding out you can't use it to get into a doctorate.&nbsp; And worse, if your UK or US employer asks for a credential evaluation, you will find bodies like UK Naric/Enic and WES will say your qualification is "unrecognized".&nbsp; <br><br>www.esade.edu/en/programmes<br><br><br>
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Duncan

Some school (I think I have seen that at Esade, HEC and ESCP) can allow students to do extra work to get a state degree. Typically that is a dissertation. 

Some school (I think I have seen that at Esade, HEC and ESCP) can allow students to do extra work to get a state degree. Typically that is a dissertation.&nbsp;
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Duncan

On the other hand, kudos to IE for explaining the difference between state and private degrees here, and linking to a list of the their private degrees: https://www.ie.edu/official-and-private-degrees/ 

I was surprised to see that some of their core, full-time courses lead to private degrees, including around half their business-themed full-time masters degrees, most of their global and executive masters, and - perhaps most conceringly - the joint degree with SMU (considering how formal Singaporean burecracy can be). 

On the other hand, kudos to IE for explaining the difference between state and private degrees here, and linking to a list of the their private degrees: https://www.ie.edu/official-and-private-degrees/&nbsp;<br><br>I was surprised to see that some of their core, full-time courses lead to private degrees, including around half their business-themed full-time masters degrees, most of their global and executive masters, and - perhaps most conceringly - the joint degree with SMU (considering how formal Singaporean burecracy can be).&nbsp;
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Ridhima05

Hi,
The degrees from France are also creating a lot of problems.
So, if a college is part of the Conference de Grande Ecoles and has all the 3 accreditations but states that the degree awarded would be a Master 2 but does not state if it's Grade de Master then will that Master's degree be recognized by the government?

Hi,<br>The degrees from France are also creating a lot of problems.<br>So, if a college is part of the Conference de Grande Ecoles and has all the 3 accreditations but states that the degree awarded would be a Master 2 but does not state if it's Grade de Master then will that Master's degree be recognized by the government?<br><br>
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Duncan

Generally it's a little easier in France: the M2 would be the final year of the full Grande Ecole programme, so that will be almost always a state degree. For example: https://twitter.com/henrimcl/status/865981513350950912 

But in Italy in particular, its tricky. I saw Bocconi pointing out that one of its executive masters has ECTS (only 40, when many masters degrees would be 90 or 120), which means that most of the other don't even carry ETCS. 

Many employers won't care but there are three scenarios:
- A job where having a state masters degree produces a salary premium. These are typically in the public sector
- Someone who needs a good masters to enter a PhD will struggle if there is no transcript showing academic credits.
- In Spain and Italy in particular, there is some hesitancy about the quality of these private diplomas but, for example, an EMBA from a top school will always be taken more seriously than a non-credit degree with a weird title. 

Generally it's a little easier in France: the M2 would be the final year of the full Grande Ecole programme, so that will be almost always a state degree. For example: https://twitter.com/henrimcl/status/865981513350950912&nbsp;<br><br>But in Italy in particular, its tricky. I saw Bocconi pointing out that one of its executive masters has ECTS (only 40, when many masters degrees would be 90 or 120), which means that most of the other don't even carry ETCS.&nbsp;<br><br>Many employers won't care but there are three scenarios:<br>- A job where having a state masters degree produces a salary premium. These are typically in the public sector<br>- Someone who needs a good masters to enter a PhD will struggle if there is no transcript showing academic credits.<br>- In Spain and Italy in particular, there is some hesitancy about the quality of these private diplomas but, for example, an EMBA from a top school will always be taken more seriously than a non-credit degree with a weird title.&nbsp;
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Ridhima05

Yes, that's true but if there's no mention of the 120 ECTS being awarded by the college after getting the M2 then isn't it a bit confusing. Also, after enquiring whether a person can take up a doctorate after the Master's, the college did not reply. Hence, I'm gathering information from the alumni.
Another question that I have is, how many times is the post-study job search visa( APS ) can be availed by a student in France. For example, if I complete a 1 year language degree in France and after that want to do the MSc then will I get the APS twice or only once? 

Yes, that's true but if there's no mention of the 120 ECTS being awarded by the college after getting the M2 then isn't it a bit confusing. Also, after enquiring whether a person can take up a doctorate after the Master's, the college did not reply. Hence, I'm gathering information from the alumni.<br>Another question that I have is, how many times is the post-study job search visa( APS ) can be availed by a student in France. For example, if I complete a 1 year language degree in France and after that want to do the MSc then will I get the APS twice or only once?&nbsp;
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Duncan

I this the APS has been replaced a few years ago by the recherche d’emploi visa, allowing one year of job search for people with a masters degree. The best list to use from a visa perspective might be: https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/loda/id/JORFTEXT000023995338/ 

I this the APS has been replaced a few years ago by the recherche d’emploi visa, allowing one year of job search for people with a masters degree. The best list to use from a visa perspective might be: https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/loda/id/JORFTEXT000023995338/&nbsp;
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MKennedy


Many employers won't care but there are three scenarios:
- A job where having a state masters degree produces a salary premium. These are typically in the public sector
- Someone who needs a good masters to enter a PhD will struggle if there is no transcript showing academic credits.
- In Spain and Italy in particular, there is some hesitancy about the quality of these private diplomas but, for example, an EMBA from a top school will always be taken more seriously than a non-credit degree with a weird title. 



I see this as similar to choosing between an AACSB / AMBA accredited program and those that are not accredited.  With so many government-approved programs around the world, why would anyone have to settle for a private degree/diploma?   I think for most prospective MBA students, non-government approved should be among the first red flags to consider aside from lack of accreditation.   The only reason people still enroll in private degree/diplomas is that most are unaware of the limited recognition of these degrees.   I would take a no-name AACSB-accredited masters degree over an EMIB "degree" from ESCP, especially if at some point you would need to move to another country that requires a credential evaluation. 

[Edited by MKennedy on Jan 20, 2022]

[quote]<br>Many employers won't care but there are three scenarios:<br>- A job where having a state masters degree produces a salary premium. These are typically in the public sector<br>- Someone who needs a good masters to enter a PhD will struggle if there is no transcript showing academic credits.<br>- In Spain and Italy in particular, there is some hesitancy about the quality of these private diplomas but, for example, an EMBA from a top school will always be taken more seriously than a non-credit degree with a weird title.&nbsp; [/quote]<br><br><br>I see this as similar to choosing between an AACSB / AMBA accredited program and those that are not accredited.&nbsp; With so many government-approved programs around the world, why would anyone have to settle for a private degree/diploma?&nbsp;&nbsp; I think for most prospective MBA students, non-government approved should be among the first red flags to consider aside from lack of accreditation.&nbsp;&nbsp; The only reason people still enroll in private degree/diplomas is that most are unaware of the limited recognition of these degrees.&nbsp;&nbsp; I would take a no-name AACSB-accredited masters degree over an EMIB "degree" from ESCP, especially if at some point you would need to move to another country that requires a credential evaluation.&nbsp; <br>
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