The "No pay MBA" concept - Take courses now and worry about degree later?

Discussion in 'Business and MBA degrees' started by dfreybur, Dec 29, 2014.

  1. dfreybur

    dfreybur New Member

    Since I got my Bachelors at Excelsior ( in 1993 then Regents) every year I have run the arithmetic on whether I should go for a Masters. Because I don't want to go into debt for another degree every year the arithmetic says I am not ready to start.

    This year I read about an alternative - Using a published curriculum for structure, find MOOC courses on line that are $500 or under. List them as coursework towards an MBA. Worry about getting credit for them later. Use the skills and knowledge acquired in the courses on the job and for advancement. It would count as "some graduate college" rather than a degree. Maybe credit starts coming available at some point. Keep checking for some graduate equivalent of a CLEP that does not break the budget. Keep running the arithmetic on the graduate credit bank at Excelsior.

    Like my BS/LA at Excelsior the course work could be from various colleges. I took courses at two colleges for my degree but it could have been more.

    Have folks benefited from the experience of taking MOOC courses? There are blogs of people taking them structured to mimic the curriculum of an MBA program.

    After the new year I'll get my feet wet by signing up for one course to see how it goes.
  2. edowave

    edowave Active Member

    I'm not aware of any graduate equivalent of a CLEP, though some programs may waive certain graduate courses based on a professional certification (e.g. CPA, CMA, CFM). Will Excelsior award an entire MBA based on MOOC courses, or even graduate courses taken at another RA university? Most graduate programs I'm aware of will maybe let you transfer up to 9 credit towards a graduate degree, but not an entire program.

    Unless you need a piece of paper that says MBA, I suppose you could give it a shot. However, if you ever get to a point where you need a one, and nobody will give you credit for MOOC courses, you may find yourself having to retake courses over again.

    Another option you might consider is the EBS MBA. The EBS MBA allows you to "pay as you go" with no time limit on the courses. Some people have saved up for one course at a time, pass the exam, save up for the next one, and so on until they have completed enough courses to be awarded the MBA. It will probably take around 5 -10 years doing it that way though.
  3. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    You're not going to be able to get MOOCs on a credit banking transcript unless those MOOCs are NCCRS or ACE-approved for college credit. The closest thing to turning non-evaluated MOOCs into college credits is by completing prior learning assessments unless some college has an agreement to award credits for MOOCs (this has happened before). I know TESC offers the option of completing graduate-level PLAs. If MOOCs happen to be accepted for credit in the future, then the MOOCs you complete now will probably be no good. Courses often get approval from a recent date, and the assessment process might have to change i.e. requiring a proctored, final exam.

    You can't honestly say you have some graduate credits from completing MOOCs because MOOCs don't fall under any college or university's accreditation or state approval. You can put them on your resume as continuing education or additional training.
  4. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    This just doesn't look like a wise path to me. If you don't need the piece of paper, why not just pick a curriculum you like, ask the school for a syllabi and self study? If you want the piece of paper, your suggested route looks unsure, tedious and potentially expensive without the guarantee of acceptance.

    At $500 per MOOC, you'd be looking at a minimum of $6000 for 12 courses, more depending on the number of classes in the chosen curriculum. You'd also have to allow for other expenses related to the eventual transcription and acceptance as a MBA. This obviously doesn't include the brain dame you will likely incur from trying to explain all of this to an employer or colleage, let alone getting them to view it as legitimate.

    I would suggest you stretch just a tad further and look at Chadron State which runs about $10,000. You can also look at Amberton University's MA in Professional Development. It allows you to select whatever courses you want from business, management, human resources, human behavior, etc. This degree truly allows you to mimic whatever degree plan you can find elsewhere with whatever specialization you want. It also offers the benefit of having no prerequisites (as most MBA programs have) and the courses are $750 each for a total of $9000.

    Alternatively, you could look at UNISA. Their MBA is in the process of being re-accredited, but they have a MBL (Master of Business Leadership.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2014
  5. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    Sorry, I forgot to include the cost of the UNISA MBL. It's just over $4400 and that includes tuition, materials and fees.
  6. dfreybur

    dfreybur New Member

    Excelsior only offers other Masters degrees. They did have a graduate credit bank back when I got my BS/L - Any course they count as accredited they charge a fee and put on your transcript. Later you use that to transfer. So far almost no other college will accept enough credits for more than half a Masters degree. So it's not price efficient. Having done a Bachelors at Excelsior I already double pair for some items leading towards my degree and am aware of this issue.

    The exact same issue happens with UA and NA course work so I'm aware of the issue. It's the work and the skills acquired first, figure out real credit later system that also happens with anyone who takes UA/NA/non-credit classes then tries to get credit for them. Knowing that going in makes the difference. Unless some future employer has a reimbursement plan I don't see myself ever paying the full course of a degree. If some future employer does the money is not an issue.

    That's actually a maximum of $500 per course with many being no charge so the money is very low for course work that leads to skill acquisition but not to a degree.

    Now that one is interesting, thanks! The rate of $750 spread over 2 months for one 8-week course at a time is an amount of money I would consider. As long as I don't need to stop full time work, don't go into debt and the rest of the partridge in a pear tree list.

    So ultimately the MOOC courses are listed as non-credit and treated as such. And like all non-credit course work it's the work and the skills acquired that are the benefit. Real credit towards degrees is a pipe dream, something I knew already. Thanks!
  7. GoodYellowDogs

    GoodYellowDogs New Member has an affordable MBA.
  8. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I'll tip my hand and betray a bias here. In my job I supervise some people but I don't hire/fire. If, however, someone were to show me a resume where the candidate had a Bachelors and a random collection of grad courses I would be less impressed than if I got a resume with a Bachelors and something that said they were currently enrolled in a grad degree program. The random credits, especially if they're from different schools, are difficult to assess. What does it mean? What is the value? Enrollment in a structured degree program is easier to understand.
  9. Pugbelly2

    Pugbelly2 Member

    I agree with this statement. In addition, whether it's right or wrong, the completion of a structured program reflects discipline on the part of the student. The collection of random credits doesn't convey the same feeling. I fully understand that the collection of said credits may actually require greater disciple, even resourcefulness, but it likely will not convey that way. It kind of looks like someone who couldn't make up their mind or commit to a program.
  10. dfreybur

    dfreybur New Member

    Of course they would not be random in the least as they would be based on an established curriculum. This is the exact same issue that remote degrees faced in the previous two decades - Folks discarding them as worthless because they weren't at brick and mortar. When I first got my BS/LS at Regents in 1993 I made a point of stressing that I took all of my courses in brick and mortar college classrooms. Two decades later I can just point folks to the list of regionally accredited colleges to see that Excelsior is on it and has its previous names listed.

    I do expect bias when applying to some large HR dominated corporation, but such a corporation values "some graduate school" more than "bachelors degree" and less than "masters degree". The work would be less competitive than someone who sprung for a degree. But thinking about this over night I am not at the moment willing to pay for an MBA even a less expensive one.

    Ah well, I road the wave of disapproval with a remote degree. I'll ride the wave of disapproval of self assembled coursework and see if it ever gels into a degree. Even if it never does gel I still do the work and build the skills. I may end up applying the skills to a home business start up. If the end game is that I don't care about the paper.

    Thanks for the input including the resistance!
  11. GoodYellowDogs

    GoodYellowDogs New Member

    I think the problem is that most companies use HR computer screening algorithms. The computer, not a human, looks for the degrees. You might get screened out without getting to explain it.

    Also, many companies aren't as interested in what or where you got your degree, but that you got one. In other words, doing a degree shows that you can start and complete a goal.

    If I were younger, I might do it your way, but I have to stay competitive until I retire :) I do think it's a fascinating idea.
  12. novadar

    novadar Member

    Particularly in the IT Industry this statement is true in almost all circumstances based on my experience and observation.
  13. TCord1964

    TCord1964 New Member

    If money is the issue, there are online MBA programs in India that can be done for $2,500 or less for the whole program. You can also split up the payments. Don Bosco University comes to mind, as well as Amity University.
  14. dfreybur

    dfreybur New Member

    As course work can be listed on LinkedIn, recruiters for contract gigs see it and take it into consideration. I have done enough contract work in my career that the try-to-buy approach does not bother me at all. Some may consider this an end run around HR. I consider it a standard career experience. It takes all kinds and your point is valid for those who only want to work permanent at large companies.

    A No-Pay MBA: It

    I ran the runs in this blogger's spreadsheet and it turned out the older I am the more likely the no-pay no-degree just-do-the-work approach pays better.

    My assumptions were taking 0 years off to get an RA MBA then getting a 20K salary boost from degree+skills versus 0 years off then getting a 10K salary boost from courses+skills. For me the break even does not come until 2 years after my projected retirement age.

    Of course if any employer offers a tuition reimbursement program that overrides all of the rest of the discussion.
  15. TCord1964

    TCord1964 New Member

    I don't think there is anything wrong with cobbling together 10-13 MBA MOOC courses and listing it on your CV as "completed MBA coursework, awarded certificates of accomplishment." If anyone asks about it, that could lead to a conversation about how you took the initiative to take and complete graduate coursework while holding down a job. Some of these MOOC courses are offered by some great "name" universities, so the knowledge you gain is nothing to sneeze at. You didn't rub elbows with classmates or sit in front of a graduate assistant giving a lecture, but then again neither does any other distance learning student. The only difference is you aren't shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for the coursework.

    The key is you have to be able to demonstrate how you have been able to apply the knowledge from the courses you took to everyday work situations. If you can compile a portfolio of accomplishments and ideas that have helped your employer make more money and show how your education has been key to that, it will go a long way. Resumes are meant to gain an interview, not land a job. It's still up to you to demonstrate your value to your potential new employer at your interview.

    Another thought is you could do the MOOC MBA coursework, and then enroll in a school like Western Governors University. It's a competency-based program. You won't get direct credit for the MOOC courses, but if you can demonstrate you have the knowledge, skills and abilities that relate to each MBA course, I would think you could quickly advance through the WGU program.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 3, 2015
  16. sanantone

    sanantone Well-Known Member

    That's an interesting way of looking at it. One could also do the same at Patten. Patten would probably be faster since WGU requires a lot of busy work. Having prior knowledge can make it easier to write the papers, but you still write a whole lot. WGU might have the most writing-intensive MBA out there.
  17. GoodYellowDogs

    GoodYellowDogs New Member

    My industry requires the paper - so my only option to get and keep the jobs I want until I retire is to do a quick and cheap MBA.

  18. novadar

    novadar Member

    This is generally the case for established professionals -- it's all about the letters (MBA, PhD.....) and less about the where --- as long as it's legitimate.
  19. TCord1964

    TCord1964 New Member

    I think that is slowly changing. If someone completed their degree 15 years ago, but have not done any kind of education since then, they are going to have a hard time competing against people who are continuing to upgrade their skills, whether with MOOCs or something else. About 25 percent of the jobs around now didn't exist 10 years ago. With rapidly changing technology, older workers in particular are going to have to constantly upgrade their skills to remain relevant.

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