University of the People offers MBA with no tuition charge

Online programme requires only assessment fees with a total cost of $2,400
Shai Reshef, founder of the University of the People

Listen to this article

00:00
00:00

In a world of rising tuition fees and mounting student debt, California’s University of the People has started offering an ultra low-cost MBA, it said on Tuesday.

The online programme — open to 100 applicants in its first term this September, with capacity expected to expand subsequently — will carry a $200 end of course assessment fee for each of the 12 courses. This would take the total cost to about $2,400 for the qualification, about one-thirtieth of what an average MBA might cost in the US. There are no tuition fees or textbook costs.

Developing what UoPeople’s founder Shai Reshef called the “the world’s most cost-effective MBA” was a natural progression for the Pasadena-based institution.

“A bachelors degree is not enough and there is great demand in the job market for candidates with an MBA,” he added. “The cost of an MBA today is so expensive that many people who are qualified to achieve it cannot afford it.”

In 2014, Mr Reshef gained accreditation for the online non-profit university he founded five years earlier with a mission to deliver higher education worldwide to those who otherwise could not afford it.

There are entry requirements for the course, including a bachelors degree from an accredited university, proficiency in English, two years of full-time work experience and a letter of recommendation.

“We will admit students from all parts of the globe, all . . . social backgrounds. We do not require that students come from any particular undergraduate major or employment fields,” Mr Reshef explained.

Students can expect to complete the course in 15 months on a full-time basis but part-time students have to finish within five years. The MBA is accredited by the Distance Education and Accreditation Commission, a private non-profit organisation.

The programme is led by Russell Winer, professor of marketing at the Stern School of Business, New York University, and dean of business administration at UoPeople. The MBA was also developed with assistance from volunteers at leading business schools including Insead, Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and Oxford university’s Saïd Business School.

UoPeople has offered undergraduate degrees in business administration or computer science, without tuition fees, to 3,000 students from 180 countries around the world. Its online programmes have a $100 charge for each course exam, taking the total a student can expect to pay for a bachelors degree to about $4,000.

The university runs with the support of 4,000 volunteers from other universities and makes use of open-source technology. It said it plans to double student numbers in the next year. It has a programme in place that is supported by global foundations and corporations, such as tech groups Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft, to help students who are unable to meet its charges.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved. You may share using our article tools. Please don't copy articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.