Online MBA offered by Corporates – Will this become a Trend?


Now here is something I think will be really a big win-win situation for employees as well as corporates.

 Higher Education IBM

If you have not understood what I am saying, here it is – IBM has announced a innovative partnership with Boston based Northeastern University College of Business Administration to complete an online degree course, which makes it possible for IBM employees based in Mumbai, Bangalore and New Delhi to earn an MBA without disrupting their careers.

This is really novel – and I think has the potential to become a trend very soon with corporates, especially with the Large IT and Telecommunication companies and Multinationals.

Lets look at the benefits it will generate to the Company offering in-house degrees of this kind

  • Employees in all probability will not leave for further Education, especially if they are getting a degree in-house from Reputed Foreign University.
  • Employee retention problem will come down to a large extent, as this kind of offering will bring in loyalty for the company.
  • One of the major points that clients look at while offering projects to companies is the average employee education. With such a scheme in place, companies can easily take the level of Average Employee education to next level.
  • The company can afford to recruit Graduate resources at lower salaries and within a couple of years charge their clients fat fee for high flying MBA resources from known Universities.
  • Offcourse, this will enhance the talent pool that company has for its own disposal.
  • As the Degree course will be conducted online, existing Infrastructure could be easily be used. So, apart from partnering with a known University, they do not have to invest much in these kind of schemes.

I am sure there are few more indirect benefits as well, but the ones listed should be enough for corporates to look into such kind of partnerships seriously.

From the Employees point of view it is straight and simple – It is just huge plus for them !

  • The Employees who will enroll will not have to leave Job (or salary) to complete their higher education
  • The cost of acquiring high flying degree from foreign Universities will come by 90%, (especially because corporates will be offering subsidized rates). In case of IBM, they are offering 50% subsidy for it. The whole Degree can be acquired for less than $1200. Thats a steal !
  • And finally you get a Big Degree from known University – What else will an Employee ask for.

It is surprising that companies like Infosys have already not done these kind of partnerships, especially because they have made some serious investments in building state-of-the-art training facilities for its Employees.

I have no doubt that this will become a huge trend for corporates in coming years – It can actually become a bait for attracting Talent.

How I wish, these kind of degrees were available when I was working :(

So readers, what do you think? Is this just for namesake – or does it have a potential to become a trend?

Let us know.

  1. Lisa says

    Hi, First my bunch of thanks to site owner for such useful article, Nice Article.
    Online degree saves Times and i have agree that online courses and programs have revamped the education system. i will bookmark and share with my friends

  2. Jack says

    It’s not a bad idea. Depends on the school granting the degree and the time you spend doing it. It does not have the same market value as a full time MBA and even there you’re talking about getting it from the top 20 or so schools for a real edge.

    OTOH, if its something your employer says you need to move up, then it’s a no brainer. The Northeastern MBA costs $35K in the US so this is a good deal however, the schools only has 200 or so students and if a few hundred Indians get the same degree online each year, you can imagine the brand dilution.


  3. King says

    Knowledge is upto a person and how much is he interested to get. A person doing nothing can be a lot knowledgeable than a full time MBA. The difference is the degree so an online MBA if fulfilling that particular need as most of the people who are already hired by the company are deemed to be talented and the only thing which is missing is the degree which can be received by doing these kind of online courses. No harm in it. Trust me! I am an IBMer. I think we needed this kind of offer from years and now anybody can fulfil this dream. As far as the hike is concerned its totally upto you, how you negotiate , provided you have actually spent number of years to get experience inside out. Believe me Aravinda ! Nobody can create your value its you who can tag himself according to his own quality and capabilities. Correct me if i am wrong!

  4. Aravinda Lokesh says

    I have an different point of view, since I am an full time MBA aspirant as well, I think when you complete an full time MBA, you develop a lot of network and knowledge, which is not that possible in an online MBA, and after the completion of the MBA program, one will be getting a satisfactory hike(ofcourse, it depends upon the institute you do). Online MBA degree can give you only a marginal hike and the choice of field you want to work for is limited as well. Correct me if I am wrong!

  5. akshat says

    i think this is an excellent idea – not necessarily the MBA course but the concept. We follow a similar trend in our company where we send people for refresher courses paid for by us. Has helped us retain people and more importantly create a goodwill in the market.

    I agree that some employees may / can leave after completing this course but that doesnt mean that the idea is faulty.


    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      Thanks for dropping by. I think you have precisely mentioned the point and its nice to get a view from Employer itself.

  6. Sriram Vadlamani says

    The big difference between a full-time MBA and a online/weekend MBA is the kind of contacts one gets and the kind of network one develops.

    That is the single most factor why people do an MBA. The people who did an MBA will tell the same thing. That is still missing here.

    Sure a degree from a foreign university will load up the resume but, is that where it ends? I am yet to find a reason to feel otherwise.

  7. Sushrut says

    Hi Arun,

    Thanks for this.

    But ideal way to pursue MBA I thought was something like this.

    You do your bachelors and get a job accordingly. Work for 3-4-5 years and understand things. At that point you can go for a MBA. So that things you have learned in practice and things you will learn in theory come together and after those 2 years, you become much better professional. MBA just after grads, or during a job, not sure how much value it will add.
    Instead better way is to identify in house training program with help of experts and implement that. A generic MBA may not add that much value to company as a refined tailor made course will, specially for such large organization with so much history to it.

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      @Sushrut, you have made a valid point here and that was going through my mind while I was writing this post yesterday. A tailor made degree for professionals would be a much better value add to the company offering it.

      However, from Employees point of view, a generic MBA sort of a degree would help him much more than the former one outside of the company..

  8. Daksh says

    Nice post Arun, it does raise some good points.

    Contrary to what you pointed Infosys has done such kind of partnerships.

    I remember in our campus cafeteria, we had employees of Infosys Pune who were being trained to receive a Masters degree from BIT . A unique collaboration b/w Birla and Infosys to ensure that the employees receive degree of highest level.

    Other than this, the question really is how much value add does this degree provides you as a working-executive? It is easier said than as it is certainly difficult to balance work pressure with study.

    The positive side really is that a lot of people who’ve dreamt of acquiring quality degrees can now do so without actually quitting their jobs.

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      @Daksh Thanks for letting me know about the Infosys-BIT partnership, surprisingly no one knows about it.
      And talking about value, like I mentioned VJ – Its will probably be the best $1000 you would have spent…

  9. VJ says

    Elaborating a bit more on what ketan said.The basic question that needs to be answered here is a)How good is an Online MBA ?.Does it help in career shift or an elevation in position inside the company?
    Needless to tell that the chances of an Online MBA helping for a shift in career is zilch.So for the next part abt elevation in position,online MBA could help to certain extent[move from engg to presales probbly] .Its just my opinion that ppl who have plans of doing an MBA fulltime would not enroll for such online programs.Guys who did not have any plans of a MBA before and married woman(i didn’t want to say this :D) who might not get an opportunity for a MBA at all are the potential targets for such programs.
    I have heard that the CTS has partnered with Pilani for a MS in for its employees.

    But atleast, its a good initiative from IBM,as it can be a big bait to attract talent.

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      Needless to tell that the chances of an Online MBA helping for a shift in career is zilch.

      VJ, I somehow do not agree with this statement. Even if it is a Online MBA, if it is done from a reputed Institute, it has value on your resume, without a doubt.
      Take the IBM case, if you receive an MBA from Northeastern University College of Business Administration, which is reputed Institute – there definitely value addition.

      And see the points I have mentioned, its surely worth it either ways – Its will probably be the best $1000 you would have spent…

      1. VJ says

        Agreed Arun.definitely its worth the 1000$.But the point I tried to make was ,this cannot stop potential MBA aspirants,the guys who hover around in pagalguy and scoreville.:)

        1. Arun Prabhudesai says

          Oh, yeah VJ – This is not at all applicable to those guys who hover around in pagalguy and scoreville.:)

  10. Ranjan says

    Business Management is a skill and I share Swaroop’s view on “Online” MBA.

    I would also like to share a unique, unpublished information. LIC has tied up with IIM-Ahmedabad for a 1 year MBA course which is conducted inhouse (at LIC) by IIM_A Faculty. It’s being done to groom the in house talent. I guess it’s a first for any Private/Public Organization in India

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      Hey Ranjan, now that information I did not know…Thanks for sharing information about LIC IIMA tie-up, I did know about that..

  11. Ketan says

    this is win-win for people who leave jobs to earn MBA and services companies. But irony is people just dont need MBA degree..along with it comes lot of expectations/career-shift and wings to fly

  12. Kanchan Kumar says

    well said Sir, I want to add one more Example to this like ICICI bank they recruits graduates and in one year those student will have to do MBA from Manipal University, for this MBA programme ICICI bank charges 1.5 lakhs and after they offer placement of 3.5 lakh per annum. So as you said its a Win Win Situation for both.

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      @kanchan Thanks for dropping by. Thats a good example that you have given.
      This though will be even more attractive as it will be inhouse from the company itself.

  13. Ankit Sharda says

    Nice initiative by IBM. But I have my reservations –
    #From Employer’s perspective –
    1) Regarding reducing Employee turnover – What stops the employees from leaving the co. after getting a high flying degree at half the cost.
    2) What about the opportunity cost of time which would be spent ‘studying’? Coz if it’s a genuine MBA it’s gotta be taxing and absorbing. And the co. would be paying full salary to the employee during his MBA.

    # From Employee’s perspective –
    1) One of the major reasons graduates from IT stream jump into MBA is that they want to change their domain, i.e., get into finance, marketing or managerial roles. At least this is what I ve learned from my interaction with techies during my MBA. The possibility of this career shift is somewhat reduced in ‘in-house’ MBA.
    2) Another attraction of MBA is ‘campus placement’ which ensures a better job at the end of it if it’s a good B-School. Now if cos. are making you work at the same level even after the degree, it’s lucrativeness is somewhat reduced.

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      @Ankit – Valid and thoughtful points there you have made there…Normaly there would be some kind of bond etc. but no one follows that. However, if an employee has recd. a MBA from a company, I am sure he will atleast stay for a year or two after completing just from his conscience (atleast thats what I think).

      and as far as 2nd point goes, IBM will ensure that employee puts that many extra hours and does not interfere with his regular timings – I can bet on that :)

      From Employees perspective your point is right – and infact that is what the company also wants. Move people to next level in-house rather than picking up from Market at expensive rate.

      I think, the last point you made seems to be invalid here, coz, this is for people who have already got jobs but without a Degree…

  14. Swaroop C H says

    I guess the question is whether the “online MBA” adds any value to their resume.

    These days I’m thinking that people skills, work experience, and skills like these are what matters more than the degree.

    For example, if you had to choose between someone who has a good track record for sales or someone who has done an MBA, who would you choose among the two?

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      You know Swaroop – experience and skills are important (and according to me they are more imp than education), but in corporate world, your degree bumps up your reputation and thats the reason why people always add below their name – MBA from Harvard etc etc.
      Getting that tag has some great value, irrespective of whether you have those skills or not !

      Now talking about the value, I am sure IBM + NUCBA is bound to ad value, even if it is “online MBA” :)

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