Today, we are proud to announce an entirely new way to earn a graduate degree in business. The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign College of Business is developing the first open online MBA offered in part through Coursera. This “iMBA” program opens a number of pathways towards gaining a high quality education from a top business school.
Launching for admissions later this year, the iMBA consists of a set of Specializations (series of courses) in different areas of business expertise. Learners can take one course, one Specialization, or go on to take a set of Specializations in order to earn an MBA degree from the University of Illinois. This new model for a graduate degree is extraordinary for the following reasons:
The iMBA curriculum will be freely available for everyone.
In support of Illinois and Coursera’s common mission to provide universal access to the world’s best education, access to all of the courses will be available on Coursera for free, with the option to enroll in the paid Specialization, demonstrate skills using career-relevant projects, and earn a Verified Certificate.
Learners can choose to augment the Specializations with additional, high-engagement interactions with peers and faculty at the University of Illinois. Those learners who enroll in these supplementary companion courses will be able to earn University of Illinois credit.
Learners who complete six Specializations along with their high engagement extensions will be eligible to apply for admission (at any stage) and earn a degree from the University of Illinois’ College of Business. This incredibly affordable, fully online MBA will cost less than a third of the cost of MBAs from institutions with similar stature.
The iMBA will be the first graduate program constructed as a set of stand-alone building blocks that can be combined to comprise a full MBA degree.
Each Specialization is a “stackable credential” offered in topics like digital marketing, accounting, or finance, which have significant market value in their own right.
The iMBA will open doors to learners with non-traditional backgrounds.
Learners can try out courses with no commitment and apply for the MBA later if they feel confident in their success. Performance in the Specializations will be considered for student admittance, not just test scores and past transcripts, allowing a much larger pool of prospective students the chance to enroll.
People of all backgrounds and life histories deserve a chance to earn the education they need to succeed in their lives. This model is unique in offering enormous flexibility and unprecedented affordability, while maintaining the academic standards and rigor of a top degree program. It’s not unlikely that, over the next five years, we will see many graduate degree programs offered in a similar way, putting learners first.
We are excited to pioneer this model with the University of Illinois, and look forward to working with many of the world’s top universities to create new education pathways that serve every kind of learner.