Online Master’s in Business Administration (M.B.A.) programs have caught on like wildfire in the realm of distance education.
Once the exclusive domain of such for-profit schools as University of Phoenix and Kaplan University, online M.B.A. programs have attracted the attention of traditional "brick and mortar" institutions. US News and World Report brings word that "several traditional business programs accredited by the AACSB, some highly ranked, have made the push into the online realm in recent years. Business programs at the University of North Carolina, Pennsylvania State University, Indiana University, and the University of Florida, among others, offer M.B.A.s online comparable to the ones they've long offered on campus."
Many of these universities waited to embark on their online programs until they the technology available to them advanced to a satisfactory level. The article cites the example of The University of North Carolina, which launches its online M.B.A. program this fall, but which "waited to dive into the online realm until the felt technology could make the online experience on par with their on-campus one."
Students have thus far reacted favorably to new online M.B.A. programs. What's more, these online programs boast a more diverse cohort than their traditional counterparts, because the program not only allows students around the world to enroll, but it also attracts more nontraditional students, many of whom have advanced in their careers yet seek a change.
To those students wanting more face-to-face contact with their classmates and instructors many universities now offer programs that combine an online component with residential programs.
Yet there remain a few holdouts in this bold new distance learning endeavor. Some schools refuse to entertain the idea of an online M.B.A. program. Harvard Business School (HBS), for example, does not offer an online program "and maintains that one won't be in place in the near future," the US News article reports.
The HBS may believe that by refusing to sully itself in the waters of online education it can protect the integrity of its brand. Time will of course tell. But you can't help thinking that in this respect HBS has shown itself penny wise but pound foolish.