A tuition-free online MBA degree — thought to be a world first — is about to be offered by University of the People.
The announcement on Tuesday marks the latest in an explosion of online learning from digital providers that are rivalling established business schools and their campus courses.
Managers have increasingly flocked to online or flexible MBA programs as they begin to question the cost and time commitment of a traditional two-year program.
UoPeople’s online course will cost a total of just $2,400 — a fraction of the price of an MBA from a top-ranked business school, which can run to well over $100,000.
Full-time students can complete the program in 15 months. Part-timers will have up to five years.
“There is great demand in the job market for candidates with an MBA,” said UoPeople president Shai Reshef. “[But] the cost of an MBA today is so expensive that many people who are qualified to achieve it cannot afford it.”
Unlike many online programs, UoPeople’s will have entry requirements: a BA degree from an accredited university, two years’ work experience, proficiency in English and a letter of recommendation.
The program has been developed with assistance from a crop of elite business schools: INSEAD, Wharton and Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. It will be led by Russell Winer, a professor at NYU Stern.
He said: “I’m extremely proud to have led a stellar team to develop this ground-breaking MBA program over the past few years. It would not have been possible without the amazing work of esteemed volunteers.”
UoPeople made headlines for achieving accreditation for its undergraduate degrees in 2014. It has more than 3,000 students from 180 countries enrolled in business and computer science programs.
UoPeople will accept 100 applicants for its online MBA. The program, which is accredited by the Distance Education and Accreditation Commission, begins in September 2016.