An MBA is more than the sum of its parts, but it’s possible to pick up much of the knowledge and skills the degree provides at a fraction of the cost. From “mini-MBAs” to spruced-up online programs, there are a plethora of MBA alternatives. These alternatives to MBA programs are not just ‘MBA lite’ programs, but are offered by business schools themselves, and in many cases are designed by top professors. They often come with the option to purchase a certificate that can be shown to prospective employers. Or the chance to buy academic credit that can be applied to a full MBA.
Here are the top-10 alt-MBAs:
The prestigious Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania runs the Wharton Foundation series of courses on the Coursera online learning platform. The modules in marketing, financial accounting, human capital and corporate finance are taught by top Wharton professors and serve as an introduction to key business topics. Many students actually use these courses as a primer for a fully-fledged MBA degree. But you don’t have to matriculate.View School Profile
Rutgers Business School in New Jersey offers several Mini-MBA programs in such subjects as business essentials, digital marketing, life sciences innovation and data-driven management. These programs can be great alternatives to full-on MBA programs, which require more commitment. What’s great about the Mini-MBA programs is that they aim to replicate not just some of the knowledge gained from an MBA degree but the peer learning too, with participants from across sectors and geographies learning together online. What’s more, they can earn academic credit from Rutgers Business School towards degrees.
McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management in Canada offers the Mini-MBA series that’s designed to help people move up a step in their career. Students learn key business skills that are taught in the school’s renowned MBA program, but far more quickly and at a fraction of the price. They include strategy, marketing, finance and human resources — all essential topics for business leaders.View School Profile
The University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, in Indiana, has an Executive Certificate in Business Administration that covers many topics you’d find in the school’s highly ranked MBA degree: economics, accounting, finance, marketing, et al. Students on the eight-week courses learn from the same leading professors as in the MBA, so the quality of education is high.View School Profile
The Gies College of Business, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, runs a popular online MBA (the iMBA). Every module is available for free on the Coursera platform, and students can pay for academic credit and apply it towards the iMBA, or pay a smaller fee for a certificate that would bolster their CV: it may be valued by employers.View School Profile
The UK’s Open University runs alt-MBA business courses through FutureLearn, its online learning platform. Students can buy a certificate proving attainment, and if they want to end up on the MBA, they can pay an extra sum to do an assessment granting academic credit. But the courses are designed to stand up on their own two feet: they cover the digital economy, essential know-how for twenty-first century managers.View School Profile
Harvard Business School has made headlines in recent years with its Credential of Readiness (CORe) course that covers economics, accounting and business analytics. It uses the same famed case study method of instruction in Harvard’s hallowed MBA classrooms, where students pour over a real corporate dilemma in a group. A survey of 1,000 HBS Online graduates found half got more attention from corporate recruiters. Admissions directors may also look favourably on CORe: it could be a gateway to a full MBA.View School Profile
Arizona State University’s Thunderbird School of Global Management offers a MicroMasters in global business leadership, an online program on the edX platform, which in many ways serves as an alternative to an MBA. MicroMasters are designed to develop standalone skills for a career, with many students placing them on their LinkedIn profiles so as to raise their standing with recruiters.View School Profile
Stellenbosch Business School in South Africa has a series of courses called MBA Essentials that cover the basics of business and key MBA topics including economics, managerial accounting and statistics. The four-month series of courses are offered in English and require a three-year bachelor’s degree or an equivalent qualification. Some participants use these courses as a sort of alternative to an MBA; others take them to get their feet wet in preparation for a full-on business degree.View School Profile
Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, in Texas, runs a series of online short courses designed by leading professors for executives who are too busy to take two years out of work for a full-time MBA. These courses cover topics such as real estate development. Students get a certificate from Rice Business, tangible proof of new skills and knowledge.View School Profile