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Online Education Provides Much Better ROI for Working Professionals

Ashwin Damera, Executive Director, Emeritus Institute of Management
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Ashwin Damera, Executive Director, Emeritus Institute of Management
He is the Executive Director, Emeritus Institute of Management. Ashwin is passionate about making education accessible to all, and is an MBA from Harvard Business School himself. An avid entrepreneur, he is also the Founder of Travelguru.com and the Co-founder of ERUDITUS Education.

Recently, the IIMs and ISB raised their fees to more than Rs.20 lakhs. That makes business education in such premier B-schools very expensive and puts it out of reach for many. As a result, many end up opting for lower ranked business schools, but the career placements at these institutions are poor. The news that Flipkart and a few other startups deferred or reneged on their job offers to IIM students made headlines recently. For a student who has invested time and money (many times borrowed money), this is a scary situation.

This leads one to question – what is the return on investment (ROI) of a full time MBA? Let’s narrow the discussion to working professionals with 3-5 years of work experience. The below table estimates tuition costs, accommodation and other costs, and most importantly, the loss of pay for the time spent in a full-time program. Contrast this with a part-time, online program and the differences are apparent immediately.

So, in reality, a full-time program at a top Indian school is about 20 times more expensive than a part time PG Diploma program done online. But of course, if you are one of the lucky few to get a $100,000 offer along with an international placement; that does not matter. But what if you are one of those at the bottom rung of the placement, or whose offer was rescinded, or if you didn’t even get a placement as you were with a lower tier school?

Global Online Education is Now Available in India

Let’s be clear. When I refer to online education, I am not referring to poor quality, money making entities that have proliferated in India. Nor am I referring to free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS). Both these have very poor learning outcomes. I am referring to high quality education offered by IVY league business schools like Harvard Business School, MIT’s Sloan School of Management, Columbia Business School, Tuck at Dartmouth, Georgia Tech, and many others among the best in the business globally. Through their own platforms or via third parties, they offer postgraduate diploma programs at a fraction of the cost of an IIM or ISB education. These courses are Small Private Online Courses (SPOC). They deliver faculty lectures on video, leverage technology for their learning platforms and provide insights from the world’s best faculty and IVY league schools.

Small Private Online Courses Provide World Class Education

A great example would be Harvard Business School’s HBX Core offering. An MBA from Harvard might set one back by $150,000 or more. Not everyone can get in or afford it. So, Harvard decided to create a SPOC. HBX Core has an entrance exam, group discussions, grading and feedback and a proctored final exam. Class sizes are about 300 on average, larger than the typical HBS MBA class but much smaller than a MOOC classroom. But the key success indicator is a 90 percent completion rate. HBX Core costs $1,800 and has enrolled more than 10,000 students so far. This is a great credential for working professionals to have on their resume.

Additional Benefits of Online Education

Apart from the significant cost benefits, an online PG Diploma program can also provide you with three additional benefits:

  • Learn with a Global Peer Group: In today’s age, this is very important. If you are working for a large IT/ITES company or a multinational company, you need to have the cross-cultural ability to deal with people from different countries. A global education provides you with that exposure.

  • Industry Application: Recruiters want students who can hit the ground running. If your education matches what your industry or specific job role needs, then the chances of it increasing your job prospects goes up tremendously. The advantage with online learning in the SPOC mode is that it allows one to implement the course ideas at work almost instantly.

  • IVY League Faculty: But perhaps the greatest advantage is access to lectures and cases from the world’s top business professors. Imagine learning from Prof. Vijay Govindarajan or Marshall Goldsmith, both ranked in the top 15 globally by The Thinkers50 Ranking 2015. Think about learning Design Thinking from MIT, or Computer Science from Georgia Tech, or enrolling in the same leadership course that Columbia Business School offers its MBA class. That’s unparalleled access to knowledge and career enhancement.


  • For the many thousands who don’t get into the IIMs or who cannot afford costly business education, there is not a better option. Quality online business education is just a click away.

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