The rise of Massive Online Courses (MOOCs) in recent years has raised some debate regarding the perceived value of a traditional business degree and its long-term sustainability. However, a recent study by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) finds that “while MOOCs are becoming… more popular among business school candidates, they are not [generally] seen as a substitution for a master’s degree in business.”
According to the GMAC survey, in 2013, 17 percent of students who were already familiar with MOOCs characterized them as an alternative to a graduate business degree. In 2015, only 12 percent of students shared the same view. In contrast, those who see MOOCs as a professional development tool or a way to explore or gauge a personal interest has continued to rise from 52 percent in 2013 to 63 percent in 2015.
MOOCs are typically offered through open-source online education platforms such as edX, Coursera, and Udacity. For students, they offer free and unlimited access to online coursework, provided by leading higher education institutions and covering just about any topic. For educational institutions, businesses, and organizations, MOOCs allow easy building and hosting of courses that can promote their brand while allowing them to experiment various instructional methods.
Being seen as an interest exploration tool has not slowed down the general interest in MOOCs among the b-school candidates. In fact, the number of students enrolled in MOOCs has grown from 16 percent in 2013 to 20 percent in 2015. However, the number of students who completed a course in 2015 is only 9 percent.
The low MOOCs completion rates among b-school candidates are also shared among the general public. According to another study, only “4 percent of Coursera users who watch at least one course lecture go on to complete the course.” The same study also notes that 80 percent of those who enroll in MOOCs already have at least a bachelor’s degree. Similar to the GMAC study, this data suggests that MOOCs are a long way from substituting traditional higher education degrees.
At Limestone College, bachelors in business administration students considering an MBA degree can apply for Limestone’s online MBA program. Designed for working adults, Limestone’s online MBA offers flexible online coursework and the ability to complete assignments at any time throughout the week. Its innovative curriculum also creates opportunities for students to interact with peers and faculty both online, in-group work and through three residency weekends.