Boston University to get 308 online MBAs in first cohort

Boston University Questrom School of Business

Boston University’s Questrom School of Business plans to graduate 308 students from its first online MBA cohort this year. Online graduates, more than a third of whom intend to walk in early May, reflect a graduation rate of 94.8%.

Questrom’s online MBA, with a disruptive price tag of $24,000, launched two years ago with 392 students, nearly double initial enrollment expectations of 200 students. Since the start, 17 students have dropped out of the two-year program. Students, however, can take a leave of absence, allowing them to take up to six years to complete the degree.

“I had been banking on retention and was hoping the graduation rate would be around 95%,” says Paul R. Carlile, senior associate dean for innovation. “So we’re really happy with that rate, especially if you can take six years to complete the degree.”

Total enrollment in BU’s online MBA program now exceeds 1,700

The BU program has a current total enrollment of just over 1,700 online MBA students and expects that number to grow to 2,400 by January next year. The school, which is holding its original price for the program at $24,000 until next year, aims to enroll about 550 students this fall during one of its two admissions. Carlile says about 120 of the 308 graduates are expected to come to Boston for the start of business school and college May 20-22. The Online MBA will support both full-time and part-time Questrom MBA graduates.

The average age of the class is 39, with 32% of graduates being women. Some 43 countries will be represented by promoting online MBAs. The top three industries represented in the promotion are technology (16%), finance/accounting (14%) and health sciences (10%). Online students have formed 32 affinity groups ranging from digital health analytics to Latin American women.

Carlile noted that a student survey conducted in November last year found exceptionally high satisfaction rates. The net promoter score across the entire program was 57.4, a score even higher than the 54 net promoter score given to Apple. Some 93% of students agreed or strongly agreed that they were satisfied with their decision to attend Questrom’s online MBA program. Approximately 35% of students have been promoted or obtained a higher level position since joining the OMBA program. A total of 75% of students have received a raise or promotion that they attribute directly to the Online MBA.

High levels of satisfaction among BU’s online MBA students

The survey also revealed that BU’s OMBA program had the following results:

  • Communicate clearly, concisely and persuasively: 80% agree or strongly agree
  • Apply critical and analytical thinking to management solutions/challenges: 91% agree or strongly agree
  • Use a cross-functional perspective in decision-making: 84% agree or strongly agree
  • Using data to guide managerial decisions: 85% agree or strongly agree
  • Work collaboratively in diverse teams: 89% agree or strongly agree
  • Demonstrate an innovative approach to solving real-world problems: 77% agree or strongly agree
  • I had the opportunity to apply what I learned from OMBA courses to my daily work: 86% agree or strongly agree
  • There is a strong sense of community in the OMBA program: 69% agree or strongly agree
  • I feel like I belong in the OMBA program: 83% agree or strongly agree
  • I am proud to be an OMBA student: 89% agree or strongly agree
  • I feel a sense of affinity with Boston University: 81% agree or strongly agree
  • The OMBA program is rigorous: 79% agree or strongly agree
  • I am impressed by the quality of teaching in OMBA: 87% agree or strongly agree

So far, the online MBA program has enrolled four cohorts, the latest in January this year. Asked about what BU learned from going through the program’s first cohort, Carlile talks about the challenge of scaling up to an adult learner program. “The most important thing I learned was what scale means,” he says. “For us, digital transformation means we can cut costs and give it to more people, but it means we have to change 95% of everything. The grading systems that were effective for a typical classroom are not effective when you go to scale. Scale is the way to allow some of that peer-to-peer learning to be part of the topic. It’s been a great thing.


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