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Digital MBA – 07.06.2010“Hybrid” MBA programs at tier-one schools are expanding aggressively. For example, the Wall Street Journal ran a story recently about brand name first-tier schools such as Duke, Babson and Carnegie Mellon that are significantly expanding their online graduate programs. These degrees are accomplished through 60%-70% online programming. The curriculum is generally the same as the conventional face-to-face offering, course work is prepared and taught by the same professors, and there is no difference in the degree that one receives. However, the online student is missing important access to faculty and campus resources, not to mention a lack of face time with fellow students and relationships that pay dividends throughout one’s career. The other angle on these programs is that they typically have less stringent admissions standards. For example, Babson doesn’t require the GMAT for their online program. I can definitely see the advantages of these programs that offer a quality education to individuals who could not otherwise attend a prestigious program. The rub for me is that these graduates do not compete as rigorously for admissions, they are also missing much of the “human quality” of an education as well as the leverage of university resources, yet the degree listed on their resume does not reflect the distinction. I would argue that this should be disclosed. This is not a knock on the degree, but it just is not the same, and I’d want to know it.

Tony LoPinto is a senior client partner and head of Korn//Ferry International’s Real Estate Practice and founder of SelectLeaders. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.

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