FROM Kara DriscollApr 11, 2022 2:16 p.m
Pedestrians walk through Harvard Yard on the closed Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the United States, as seen in April 2020. (Photographer: Adam Glanzman – Bloomberg/Getty Images)
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced universities into remote learning in 2020, the experience prompted some MBA program administrators to reconsider how they could better serve students in the digital age. New York University’s Stern School of Business, for example, announced plans in November 2021 to introduce a hybrid MBA option that will include a mix of online and classroom courses.
With this new format, Stern will complement its existing offering, which is a full-time MBA program (ranked 7th out of wealth) and world-class part-time and executive MBA programs. And yet, the star is now the only top 10 business school to offer a hybrid MBA program. Expanding the list to include the top 20 colleges gives just a few more examples of colleges with an online or hybrid MBA option – University of California-Berkeley (Haas), Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper), University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler) and the University of Washington (Foster).
While many business schools are focusing on online learning, other top-tier programs won’t be transitioning to hybrid or full-time online courses any time soon. If you are hoping to attend Harvard Business School or the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School – Ranked 1st and 3rd respectively by wealth for their full-time programs – for an online MBA, don’t hold your breath. And you’ll find that both are conspicuously absent assets Ranking of the best online MBA programs.
That’s because neither Harvard nor Wharton offer an online MBA program, and representatives from those schools tell wealth They have no plans to take the online MBA path, citing reasons such as the stresses of changing their curriculum model, the lack of networking and relationship building, and the importance of bringing students together on campus.
Unique learning models require personal interactions
Harvard has no plans to offer anything other than the school’s two-year Residential MBA program, says Mark Cautela, Harvard Business School communications director wealth. At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Harvard added the ability to offer hybrid courses for its MBA program, allowing some students to continue attending classes in person but allowing the majority to attend remotely. Almost two years later, Harvard MBA students are back in class 100% in person.
“Students in our MBA program are immersed in a learning community that is enriched by the experiences on campus,” explains Cautela. “Instructional discussions continue after class in the hallways and common areas, study groups meet over coffee in the morning to discuss the day’s cases, and students can meet in small groups across campus to socialize and collaborate on projects. These types of experiences are simply not reproducible in an online program.”
HBS is known for its Case Method pedagogy, which it has taught for more than 100 years – a unique learning opportunity where students read real business case studies, discuss the case, participate in class, and reflect on business decisions. The method helps MBA students to develop communication, listening, analytical and leadership skills.
Unlike lectures, case method courses aren’t detailed scripted — which Catuela says isn’t conducive to online learning. The case study method involves “cold calling,” in which a professor randomly calls a student and asks them to contribute to the class discussion, and the faculty engages in lively class discussions in which students are encouraged to take risks and ask questions.
“The fall method is appealing and fast-paced,” says Catuela. “And HBS’s notorious cold calling forces students to participate and allows them to learn not only from the teacher, but from their peers, who bring a diversity of thoughts, talents and experiences to the classroom.”
Similarly, much of the Wharton experience comes from being on campus, where Wharton’s research and curriculum focus on fostering productivity, growth, and social advancement. According to Peter Winicov, senior director of media relations and reputation management at Wharton, MBA students will interact with hundreds of classmates and faculty during their two-year full-time experience.
Like Harvard, Wharton doesn’t offer a part-time or online MBA program, and has no plans to add either format, Winicov says.
Wharton, Harvard offer unmatched networking opportunities
While MBA students go to school for graduation and training, networking is also a big part of the experience. And both Wharton and Harvard offer unmatched relationship-building opportunities that can’t be replicated online, says Devi Vallabhaneni, executive director of consulting firm MbaMission and Harvard Business School interviewer-in-residence.
“The reason their admissions process is so intensive is that they are evaluated on what they can contribute to the dialogue on campus,” says Vallabhaneni. “The socialization is so organic and natural that the word ‘networking’ almost doesn’t fit. It’s not that transactional. It feels very natural on campus.”
Even so, Wharton and Harvard have embraced online learning — to an extent. Both schools offer several certificates and courses in business education online. HBS offers several online programs through HBS Online and some through its executive education program, providing further business education for those wishing to do it remotely. Wharton now offers an online digital marketing certificate course, among several other programs.
While neither Wharton nor Harvard allow prospective students to enroll online in an MBA program, there is hope that other top-tier business schools will embrace online learning.
Vallabhaneni says it makes sense for Stern to offer a hybrid MBA program for professionals in New York City, and online learning options might make sense for other programs like Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management because of its “significant, rigorous, part-time program.” ”
See how the schools you’re considering made Fortune’s ranking of the best business analytics programs, Data Science programs and part-time, executive, full-time, and online MBA programs.Monday, January 31st