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Ivy League Online MBA Programs | Explained

An Ivy League MBA can make your profile stand out. But what about an Ivy League Online MBA program? We talk you through the online learning programs offered by Ivy League business schools

Wed Feb 12 2020

It’s been a torrid couple of years for the Ivy League business schools, with applications to their flagship MBA programs plunging, with some double-digit declines. Although applicant numbers are down, the elite US schools still attract thousands of applications for their full-time MBAs. 

This resilience amid gloom may explain why there’s no Ivy League Online MBA program. However, these super-selective schools do offer online education in a different forms to a fully-fledged Online MBA.

This mostly takes the form of shorter online courses that cost a fraction of an MBA. Harvard Business School Online, for example, has courses that run for several weeks and cost as little as $1,050, in subjects like entrepreneurship, economics and business analytics. 

There are also MBA and EMBA degrees which incorporate online learning. Brown University offers a joint EMBA with Spain’s IE Business School that is delivered partly online.

Here, we tell you about the online learning opportunities offered by each Ivy League business school. We weigh up the pros and cons of online learning at the Ivy league and ask why no Ivy League school has launched an Online MBA.

Ivy League Online Courses

Harvard Business School


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HBS Online launched as HBX in 2014. The platform has grown strongly, with 70,000 people having taken its courses. The flagship program is the credential of readiness (CORE), which covers financial accounting, economics and analytics. Because the course uses Harvard’s famed case study method of teaching, it may be good preparation for an MBA. 

Wharton School


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The University of Pennsylvania launched Wharton Online in 2012, the ‘year of the MOOC’, when hype around massive open online courses reached fever pitch. More than 100,000 learners have earned 200,000 certificates in over 50 courses, ranging from finance and fintech to leadership. There is a subscription model of $79 per month for individuals. Wharton has some pricier courses too, like a leadership and management program that costs $3,600. 

Yale School of Management 


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Yale has focused on delivering online learning in the executive education space—courses for senior leaders. It runs several online...

ss schools. The Yale courses, which cost a few thousand dollars each, cover management, digital marketing and geopolitics. Students study part-time and work towards certificates.  

Princeton University 


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Princeton University does not have a business school, but it does offer a small number of MOOCs in business and management related subjects through Princeton Online, a digital education platform. It launched in 2012. Today, Princeton faculty have put 30 courses online that have reached three million learners in over 190 countries. This includes a program in bitcoin and cryptocurrencies—a hot topic in finance. 

Dartmouth College, Tuck School of Business


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The Tuck school posted a 22.5% drop in full-time MBA applications in 2019 compared with the year before. But the school’s DartmouthX online platform has grown strongly, offering an ever expanding roster of courses from the university’s business and other schools. They range from innovation management to retail platform management. 

Cornell University’s College of Business 


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Cornell University runs a number of business certificates through its digital platform, eCornell. There are certificate courses in commercial real estate from its College of Business; data analytics from the School of Hotel Administration and more courses in fintech, spreadsheet modelling, and entrepreneurship. 

Columbia Business School 


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Columbia Business School in New York City promises executives a top notch education without having to leave the C-suite. CBS Executive Education has a wide range of online courses in subjects like personal leadership and success; driving strategic impact; python for managers. 

Brown University 


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Like Princeton, Brown does not have a business school. However, it has forged a joint degree online program with IE Business School of Spain. The IE-Brown Executive MBA, for senior managers, blends online with in-person instruction. This facilitates the networking that is essential to an MBA, but also the flexibility of an online course. 

Online learning at the Ivy League: Pros & Cons

There are numerous advantages to taking an online course from an Ivy League school—not least a credential from a brand that may be respected by corporate recruiters. 

A survey of 1,000 HBS Online alumni found half reported more attention from employers, while one in four were promoted and a third switched careers. 

There are some downsides to online learning. Students may prefer to be on campus and build their networks—a key feature of a traditional MBA. It may also be easier for recruiters to get to know students on campus.

Some critics remain skeptical about the quality of online discussion. However, online learning lowers the barrier to entry for people who cannot attend campus due to travel or cost concerns, thereby potentially improving diversity and enriching the learning experience through group discussion.

Why is there no Ivy League Online MBA?

Ivy League business schools are yet to enter the Online MBA market. Why?

“In part, it may be a demand issue, there may simply have been no need to think about launching in the online space,” says Andrew Crisp, of the education consultancy CarringtonCrisp. 

Plus, with Online MBAs generally far cheaper than campus alternatives, the Ivy League “may think it is difficult to build a pricing model for online, when their campus degrees often retail at over $100,000,” Crisp adds.

The market for Online MBAs is growing fast. 321 Online MBA programs were ranked in the US News Online MBA ranking in 2020, up from 285 in 2019.

There will be more Online MBA programs launched in the years to come and, as students demand more flexibility, it may not be long until there is an Ivy League Online MBA.

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