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Can I take MBA-level classes (part-time) with transferable B-School credits without enrolling in an official MBA program?
December 22, 2011 11:26 AM   Subscribe

Can I take MBA-level classes (part-time) with transferable B-School credits without enrolling in an official MBA program?

I've always been interested in postgrad classes and at least semi-interested in the idea of a postgrad degree. I acquired my BA in 2006 and have been working in marketing/interactive/design since then.

Almost six months ago I started working for a company that offers some tuition reimbursement (75% of tuition, fees, and supplies, up to $2,000 per year). I want to take advantage of this perk, and I’m leaning towards applying it to business classes. (Something I discovered I'm interested in, despite having almost zero academic background in the field.)

I'm not ready to invest in a part-time (night) MBA program, and there is a decent chance I'll never go that route (especially without financial incentive or heavily-subsidized tuition) but I would like to take MBA-quality classes from an accredited institution and/or MBA program that could "potentially" count towards such a degree if-and-when I ever decide to take that plunge. From the limited research I’ve done, it looks like many MBA programs will accept credits from certain other MBA programs, but I’ve seen nothing about accepting “regular ol’ credits” from “regular ol’ night school” (at a top 50 national university).

Can this be done? i.e. can elective-style business-related night classes count towards an MBA at a good (top 20) B school? Or do I need to take the GMAT now and apply to an official program if I want my classes to "count" towards some potential future degree? And if I do enroll in an official MBA program, can I stretch the classes out to one per semester? (I know this is wishful thinking, though it’s probably my “ideal” situation.)

Is there another route I should consider? Work towards a less structured Masters? Forget the postgrad degree entirely?

Potential obstacle: I want to enroll in classes before next semester, which means I probably wouldn’t be able to take the GMAT in time, anyway. (I could potentially take it before next summer or fall, though...)

Additional details: I'm in Seattle. I never took calc. I'm only interested in an MBA if it's from a respected program, and even then it's almost exclusively something I’d be doing for personal edification, as an MBA wouldn't necessarily lead to any substantial increase in my employment-value or be financially worthwhile if I was paying for it out-of-pocket.
posted by ariela to Education (12 answers total)
 
What is it specifically about the MBA curriculum that you're interested in? A lot of what is learned in business school can be learned outside the classroom.

And, getting an MBA or personal edification oesnt really make sense. It's a fairly utilitarian degree, in that its primary application is to act as a screening tool in certain companies for advancement. But you say you don't think it will help you advance in your career.

So I'm unclear what your goals are, and whether they'd be better served via one other path.
posted by dfriedman at 11:39 AM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


You might find the book The Personal MBA and its accompanying web site of interest. It is intended as a way to get the useful elements of an MBA without the huge time and monetary investment the actual degree requires.

Full disclosure: the author is an acquaintance of mine.
posted by richyoung at 11:52 AM on December 22, 2011


If you're OK with doing an online degree, Athabasca University has a post-baccalaureate diploma in management which is directly transferable into the MBA program (as far as I understand). You can start with the diploma and, if you feel ready to continue on, keep moving forward into the MBA program.

The AU Executive MBA is a pretty highly regarded program, so it's not some fly-by night thing, even though it is an online degree.

Disclosure: I am a student at AU (not in the Faculty of Business, though).
posted by asnider at 11:52 AM on December 22, 2011


This is tough. I think it would be fairly easy to transfer credits for undergrad, but my top 15 grad program doesn't accept transfer credit. They want all your tuition money!

What goals do you have, specifically? You may just want to do Sloan courses through MIT OpenCourseWare, which are all comparable to courses at my school.
posted by emkelley at 11:56 AM on December 22, 2011


Only the eventual intended MBA program can tell you what, if any, transfer credits it "may" accept, and it will always be a discretionary "may", and will probably have a "transfer cost", and be limited to a small number of credits ... if any re accepted at all.

When I, many years ago, worked in MBA admissions (AKA sales) for a well ranked online distance program (UoL), we would accept up to 3 (or 4?) transfer subjects, applying for the transfer was a cost, and acceptance was discretionary. Put simply, if you were going to go with another university unless we accepted your transfer, we probably would if they were legit ... but it was a sales and making numbers issue.

And, as an ex-admissions advisor, I gotta tell you ... If I had spoken to you and you told me your motivation I would have told you to run a mile. On every single key driver for MBA study you indicated a negative. I would suggest that this probably isn't the best program of study for you at this time.
posted by jannw at 12:09 PM on December 22, 2011


What is it specifically about the MBA curriculum that you're interested in? A lot of what is learned in business school can be learned outside the classroom.

I totally get this, and if my company wasn't offering partial tuition reimbursement, I wouldn't be considering MBA classes right now. But to answer your question, 1) I am definitely interested in business, period. 2) I simply respect postgrad degrees and (for purely self-involved reasons) would feel extremely proud to have a few extra letters after my name. 3) I do hope to one day run a business (my own?) and classroom study couldn't hurt. (I think experiential knowledge is of primary importance, but why not have both?) 4) While I don't have exact ratios of additional-degree-value to increase-in-employment-value, I think it's enough of a bonus to use my employer's tuition funds towards a degree (if possible without thousands out-of-pocket) vs. some fun class I'd otherwise take on my own dime.

That being said, I'm happy to take a business class "just cause." But I want to know if it can ever count towards something bigger.

Only the eventual intended MBA program can tell you what, if any, transfer credits it "may" accept, and it will always be a discretionary "may", and will probably have a "transfer cost", and be limited to a small number of credits ... if any re accepted at all.

That makes sense.

And, as an ex-admissions advisor, I gotta tell you ... If I had spoken to you and you told me your motivation I would have told you to run a mile. On every single key driver for MBA study you indicated a negative. I would suggest that this probably isn't the best program of study for you at this time.

I ran six miles this morning! Oh, metaphor. Indeed, I don't think an MBA is the best program of study for me right now, and I wouldn't be so bold as to say that I even deserve a spot over a more dedicated student. I'm mostly interested in taking great classes with great profs in a traditional academic setting more than I am in any corresponding degree. But *if* one day I wanted a higher degree, I was wondering if any elective courses I take now could count towards the degree later.
posted by ariela at 12:34 PM on December 22, 2011


My university has an online grad diploma in business admin that transfers into their emba program, but I suspect that it wouldn't transfer to any other universities. (http://beedie.sfu.ca/gdba/faq/)

Other drawback: you said that you're looking for an in-person experience.

(Full disclosure: I work in grad studies at the university but not in the business school.)
posted by wenat at 1:02 PM on December 22, 2011


I've been looking at MBA programs lately. Many require you to take additional business classes (generally around 18 credits) if you do not have an undergraduate degree. This is before you start the 36 credits that are the "meat" of the MBA program. It might be worthwhile to see if any programs by you work this way as well.
posted by smalls at 3:20 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


sorry, I meant an undergraduate *business* degree!
posted by smalls at 3:21 PM on December 22, 2011


You need to talk to the particular MBA program to see what the options are for transfer credits even within their own program. A compromise maybe getting a post-grad professional certificate which is way less credit load and have a good shot of being considered transferable within the business school. As a general rule graduate programs do not take a lot in transfer credits from outside institutions, because they want the privilege of making you "their own" and to stop people from shopping around for degrees thus potentially diluting their brand.

Each graduate program and school has its own rules about transfer and applied credits. It would be essential to talk to the program coordinator to see what are your available options.

Disclosure: I work in graduate studies.
posted by jadepearl at 6:25 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's very rare for postgraduate institutions to consider giving you transfer credit for courses taken elsewhere. You may be able to waive some requirements, but you will almost certainly still have to take whatever number of units you would have needed to take otherwise. Universities make bank on master's degrees and they absolutely want you in a seat at their school for as much time as they can make you pay for.
posted by troublesome at 6:36 PM on December 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the advice, everyone. I hadn't even considered a certificate program, but it looks like there are at least a few interesting ones that would allow me to take just one class per semester, keeping out-of-pocket costs low, while giving me a taste of grad studies (and potentially helping me prep for a future masters).

It looks like there are also options for taking a few single classes within a specific program as a non-matriculated student and transferring those credits to the associated degree program within that same school after official enrollment.
posted by ariela at 8:02 AM on December 23, 2011


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