Between the 2016–2017 and 2020–2021 academic years, the number of accredited US schools with fully online MBA programs increased from 284 to 526, according to data from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
While several well-ranked American business schools, such as Michigan Ross and USC Marshall, have embraced online learning, the country's most elite MBA programs have held back up until now.
Wharton Business School
The Global Executive MBA will be a hybrid option for students, providing a split of 25% in-person and 75% online study. This program will launch in May and aims to have a diverse and global cohort of business professionals from Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and beyond.
While online options are often cheaper and specify the virtual platform on diplomas, MBA students of Wharton’s hybrid option will get the same qualification and undergo the same $223,500 cost.
Ranked 14th in the world by the Financial Times, New York University's Stern School of Business is another elite institution adding an online option in 2023. In the fall of 2022, NYU Stern gave part-time MBA students an online option for most classes.
Stern emphasizes that this is not an Online MBA per say but a hybrid option that allows a combination of teaching, with students required to take nine in-person courses.
As with Wharton, all the programs will charge online students the same tuition as those who attend fully in-person programs, and those online students will get the same degree as those who go to campus more regularly.
As with Stern, the University of California’s Berkeley Haas allows part-time students the opportunity to join a ‘flex’ MBA option, where students can learn the relevant business skills without commuting, and the tuition and degree are the same as the in-person MBA.
Haas describes it as a ‘choose your own adventure’ setup, with the first-half of the program offering core courses online, with a mix of live and on-demand lessons.
When students start elective courses, they can choose whether to continue online or travel to campus for in-person lessons. Students who choose online study will still have to join three in-person immersion events throughout the Haas MBA program.
Situated in the heart of Washington, DC, the acclaimed Georgetown is another business school adding online options in 2023 for its part-time program. Georgetown's flex MBA is attempting to expand its reach by including an online format.
The online option delivers the same degree as the in-person program with the convenience of virtual classes. Students will have to come to the DC campus for a two-week residency and study abroad for one week, but other courses will be virtual. About half of lectures will be streamed live, and students can complete the other half in their own time.
McDonough aims to enroll 40 to 50 part-time online students in the degree, which should take about three years to complete.
With these Ivy Leaguers and top-ranked business schools starting to embrace online and hybrid options, and more students enrolled in online MBAs in the US in the 2020-2021 academic year, there’s likely to be a continuation in students looking towards online or hybrid MBA programs.