The most common way to attend business school online is via an Online MBA, where you can learn the fundamentals of business through an in-depth curriculum covering areas ranging from human resources to financial accounting. However you can also find opportunities to study more specialized short courses at many of the world's top institutions.
Today, Harvard Business School offers a wealth of courses on its online learning platform HBS Online—covering topics such as entrepreneurship, sustainability, analytics, and finance—and any one of them could prove useful in reaching the next step in your career.
Here are 12 of the most beneficial Harvard Business School online courses you could enroll in:
Considering an Online MBA?
1. CORe (Credential of Readiness)
Duration: 10-17 weeks, 8-15 hours per week
HBS’ flagship online course, CORe, is a full introduction to business, consisting of three courses in Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting.
This one is marked by its flexibility, with a three-hour, multiple-choice final exam, and different durations and start dates throughout the year.
The course is assessed by online coursework alongside case studies centered on companies including Walt Disney, The New York Times, and PepsiCo. The course is aimed at recently graduated college students, those considering an MBA, and mid-career professionals with business fundamentals.
2. Entrepreneurship Essentials
Duration: 4 weeks, 6-8 hours per week
For anyone looking to get a head start with building your own business, the Entrepreneurship Essentials course from HBS is the perfect way to begin.
This short, intensive course covers evaluating ideas and assessing the market, raising capital, and identifying risks, with multiple start dates each year so you can pick it up at any stage of your business journey.
3. Sustainable Business Strategy
Duration: 3 weeks, 7-9 hours per week
This innovative course is perfect for anyone considering a career in sustainable business—a key area for companies across the globe.
Taught by Rebecca Henderson, a HBS professor and research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, the course dives into change-driven business models, examining industry disruption, business as a catalyst for change, and how to be a purpose-driven leader.
Case studies are taken from Unilever and Walmart among others, and the course ends with students developing a personal plan for the action they can actually take to create change.
4. Alternative Investments
Duration: 5 weeks, 6-7 hours per week
With a global economic downturn affecting workers across many industries, plenty of people are looking for ways to make their money go further today.
HBS’ Alternative Investments program is the ideal starting place for exploring investing, with opportunities as diverse as hedge funds, real estate, private equity and private debt. The ultimate aim of the short course is to give students the confidence to assess investments themselves.
The course is taught by three professors at HBS, so you know be getting a rigorous course, and offers two start dates in October and February.
5. Negotiation Mastery
Duration: 8 weeks, 4-5 hours per week
This short course offers budding managers the chance to explore negotiation strategies with Michael Wheeler, who has taught negotiation at HBS since 1993.
Each of the four modules explores a different aspect of negotiation, with interviews with company leaders complimenting the syllabus.
The course is built partially around personal goals, which you’ll set at the beginning of the course, and includes reflection at the end on how you will utilise your skills in future negotiation opportunities.
6. Management Essentials
Duration: 8 weeks, 4-7 hours per week
The perfect basics course for anyone looking to move into graduate business education, Management Essentials, part of CORe, aims to turn students into skilled management professionals.
Alongside intensive case studies exploring events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the 2010 Chilean Mining Rescue, students explore decision making, successful change processes, and how to manage growing businesses.
Whether you’ve just moved into a management role or aspire to be a CEO one day, this course will teach you all the basics.
7. Disruptive Strategy
Duration: 6 weeks, 5-6 hours per week
The Disruptive Strategy course was created by Clayton Christensen, a New York Times best-seller and one of the world’s foremost innovation and disruption experts.
Students on the six-week course explore how to identify threats and opportunities, develop a strategic mindset, and how to innovate, with industry case studies diving into entertainment, healthcare, and digital innovation.
The course includes a team project component as well as a final paper.
8. Business Analytics
Duration: 8 weeks, 5 hours per week
With data a vitally important component of everyday business, HBS’ Business Analytics gives you the skills to be confident in interpreting data and making decisions.
The course is taught by one of Harvard’s senior associate dean for culture and community, Janice Hammond, and introduces concrete skills such as exploring data sets, analyzing variables, and implementing analytical skills in Excel.
With the ability to study at your own pace, enrolling in this course means you’ll mainly learn through practical analysis and through exploring case studies.
9. Global Business
Duration: 4 weeks, 6-8 hours per week
In today’s ever-changing business environment—where pandemics, economic downturns, and climate threats can have a defining impact—understanding the global economy and the varied social and political factors affecting business could mean the different between success and failure.
The Harvard Global Business onlince course examines these issues and helps build a solid foundation in macroeconomics, including areas such as fiscal and monetary policy, cross border investment, and the role of governments.
You’ll learn in part through watching interviews with company leaders, exploring the effects of environmental change, political risks, and government spending on businesses.
10. Power & Influence For Positive Impact
Duration: 6 weeks, 6-7 hours per week
This 6-week course teaches you the essentials of power, including how it can be used and abused, how to hold power to account, and how to use power in a responsible way.
Modules cover a wide variety of concepts. You'll start by learning to identify your own personal position when it comes to power at work, before module two teaches you to use your network to cultivate sources of power.
Later modules teach you how to define change, lead in an organization, and use your power to make a positive impact.
Taught by HBS professor, Julie Battilana, an expert in social innovation, this course is key for professionals looking to enact change in their career, budding entrepreneurs, and nonprofit leaders.
11. Launching Tech Ventures
Duration: 5 weeks, 6-7 hours per week
One topic that's been at the cutting-edge of business for some time now, with no sign of fading away, is entrepreneurship in tech. Launching Tech Ventures is therefore a course run by HBS that teaches how to develop your business model, identify a go-to-market strategy, understand the venture capital process, and understand the ethics of the startup world.
Built for founders as well as investors and those working at tech startups, this course is offered via a flexible, self-paced format, with enrollment dates in November and January.
12. Sustainable Investing
Duration: 6 weeks, 5 hours per week
Like Alternative Investing, this course focuses on how to maximize investment opportunities, however course-takers learn to do this through the lens of sustainable impact.
Enrolling in the course means you'll learn about the key ESG factors that influence investment decisions, how to measure impact as well as profit, and how to avoid issues such as greenwashing.
HBS lists this course as designed for investment professionals, early-career professionals, and employees working in key areas ranging from consultancy to financial advisory services, however it could also be a good choice for ambitious individuals looking to move into green finance.
Applying for HBS Online Courses
All Harvard’s online courses require the completion of a brief application where you’ll be asked for some personal background information and which varies slightly for each program. The majority of applications are accepted.
You can also get tuition assistance for the Credential of Readiness (CORe) program, as well as the Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting certificate programs.
For more information on studying online to take the next step in your career, download our free BusinessBecause Online MBA Guide 2023: Everything You Need To Know About Online MBAs.