Partner Sites

Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice
mobile search icon

10 Online Courses To Try Before Your MBA

Online courses are the perfect opportunity to brush up skills or deepen your interests before your MBA. Here's 10 online courses worth trying before your MBA

Fri Oct 9 2020



Online courses have sky-rocketed in popularity in recent years, particularly with increasing moves to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic

Dubbed the MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), MOOC sites like edX and Coursera are a people’s platform for free and affordable education. Courses cover an array of subjects—from music theory to data analytics—and are provided by some of the most esteemed faculty on top MBA programs around the globe.

While some people challenge the efficacy of MOOCs, many schools agree that any degree of training to prepare students for the rigorous life of an MBA is worthwhile. Not only can a course sharpen a student’s skillset, it can also give a dull resume a boost. 

Here are 10 online courses that prospective MBA students should consider before going to business school:

10 Online Courses To Try Before Your MBA

1. Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies, Harvard University


©Lyndon Stratford

Platform: edX

Length: 6 weeks (3 - 5 hours a week)

Cost: Free + $125 for verified certificate

Led by Harvard Business School professor Tarun Khanna, this 6-week course focuses on individual agency in a fast-growing economy of emerging markets. The course description outlines Tarun’s ‘interdisciplinary approach to understanding and solving complex social problems.’ 

Students will learn how to find opportunities in fast-growing markets, evaluate those opportunities, and gain a greater understating of commonplace problems and their entrepreneurial solutions.

2. Behavioral Economics in Action, University of Toronto

Platform: edX

Length: 6 weeks (4 - 5 hours a week)

Cost: Free + $140 for verified certificate

This hands-on course begins with an overview of the principles underlying decision-making. Guest lecturers from Harvard, the University of Colorado, and National Public Radio (NPR) weigh in on debates surrounding behavioral economics, as well as experimental design and analysis. For students interested in learning more about the ‘nudging approach’ and other progressive methods of behavioral change, this is the course for you!

3. Corporate Social Responsibility: A Strategic Approach, University of...

ad"> d2fba26446bc29eb61cf2a0861c65ff000a1f8e2.jpg

©Olivier Le Moal

Platform: edX

Length: 4 weeks (2 - 5 hours a week)

Cost: Free + $50 for verified certificate

This is an introductory level course that covers both the triumphs and pitfalls of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Participating students are sure to have a leg up, as CSR has become an increasingly popular topic that will become indispensable to MBA programs.

The course, which considers key interactions between philanthropy and self-interest, is taught by four instructors from the University of Pennsylvania, University of Connecticut, and Erasmus University.

4. Empathy and Emotional Intelligence at Work, UC Berkeley

Platform: edX

Length: 4 weeks (1 - 2 hours a week)

Cost: Free + $200 for verified certificate

Perhaps the most underrated, least quantifiable skill of them all: interpersonal relations. While students may not encounter a course of this caliber while working towards a degree, this short, 4-week course could make all the difference in facilitating positive relationships with future colleagues, employers, and more.

The course hopes to ‘understand how the skills of emotional and social intelligence support organizational happiness and productivity.’

Empathy and Emotional Intelligence at Work is taught by UC Berkeley’s Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas, who are also creators of the popular, ground-breaking MOOC, ‘The Science of Happiness.’

READ MORE: Are Coursera Courses Worth The Effort?



5.  Marketing Analytics: Marketing Measurement Strategy, UC Berkeley

Platform: edX

Length: 4 weeks (5 - 7 hours a week)

Cost: Free + $250 for verified certificate

This highly-rated course aims to debunk some of the mystery surrounding the marketing field by introducing strategies to identify trends and track marketing successes. The course spans a mere 4 weeks and intends to serve as a gateway into more advanced marketing courses. Metrics are a main focus here; Professor Stephan Sorger of Oracle, 3Com, and NASA guides students to size and predict future market conditions.

6. Just Money: Banking as if Society Mattered, MIT


©Jirapong Manustrong

Platform: edX

Length: 16 weeks (3 - 4 hours a week)

Cost: Free + $50 for verified certificate

For students interested in learning more about the fundamentals of the US banking system, this course offers a detailed run-down of the roles that banks play in the US economy. Course instructors have extensive experience working in banks globally, with particular interest in discussing the future of banking and financial technologies. The course is lengthy—16 weeks—but asks admirable questions about how banking can address social and ecological challenges in society. 

7. Risk, Return, and Valuation, University of Michigan

Platform: Coursera

Length: 22 hours

Cost: Free + $49 for verified certificate

Here is one of the few graduate-level courses on our list, for students who want to plunge into the waters of the MBA experience. Taught by University of Michigan Professor Gautam Kaul, this 6-week course delves into the link between risk and statistics. Readings and graded assignments are all part of this free course.

8. Keeping up with Change: Issues for the Finance Professional, University of London

Platform: Coursera

Length: 34 hours

Cost: Free + $49 for verified certificate

This forward-thinking course hopes to better equip students with the tools necessary to succeed in a rapidly changing business environment. It is an intermediate course that seems especially tailored for soon-to-be MBA students.

Course modules transverse topics such as strategic planning, recent changes in standards, and corporate governance.

9. Financial Markets, Yale University



Platform: Coursera

Length: 32 hours

Cost: Free + $49 for verified certificate

Hosted by Yale University professor Robert Shiller, Financial Markets examines the ‘ideas, methods, and institutions that permit human society to manage risks and foster enterprise.’ The aim of the course is to guide students towards using the principles of market systems to create a better society. This would be an ideal course for MBA candidates who may have been out of a college for a few years and need to brush up on market basics.  

10. Managerial Accounting Fundamentals, University of Virginia

Platform: Coursera

Length: 13 hours

Cost: Free + $49 for verified certificate

Learn more about cost behavior and cost allocation systems with Managerial Accounting Fundamentals. Professor Luann Lynch advises students on conducting cost-volume-profit analysis and employing best-practice managerial decisions.


Online Learning: Pros & Cons

This article was originally published in May 2018 and was updated in October 2020.