The UC Berkeley Haas School of Business announced an online program, allowing Master of Business Administration, or MBA, students to pursue an education with increased flexibility.
The goal of the program is to make Haas more accessible to students who would like to pursue an MBA but are unable to make the current Evening & Weekend MBA Program schedules work for them. With the Flex option, Haas hopes to offer those students more alternatives, according to Jamie Breen, assistant dean of Haas MBA Programs for Working Professionals.
The Flex option is something that was originally planned for 2015 and has otherwise been in the works for quite a while, Breen added.
“I think in some ways, the pandemic forced us all to experiment with remote teaching,” said Abhishek Nagaraj, campus assistant professor at Haas. “It has been quite rare for top business schools to offer any kind of online program, so Haas will be one of the pioneers in that regard.”
According to Nagaraj, the program is designed to be exactly like the traditional MBA program, with the same level of academic rigor and core content, except in a more flexible format.
Three categories of classes will be offered through the Flex option: in-person courses meant to allow for student interactions, synchronous live content with students and professors congregating virtually and prerecorded lectures, Nagaraj added.
“I think this program, if anything, will attract even more senior people personally,” Nagaraj said. “Because those people have families and children in school, they are more constrained, and this will offer them more flexibility in terms of when and how they do their program.”
Those interested in the program will face the same application and admissions process as those who are pursuing the traditional route, with admitted students becoming a cohort within the Evening & Weekend MBA class. Students will be asked whether they want the weekend, evening or Flex option when applying for the part-time MBA program, Breen said.
As for infrastructure, Haas has created a “robust” digital learning team called Haas Digital to work with faculty as they adjust their classes to the asynchronous and synchronous environment. The team consists of technical experts and instructional designers, according to Breen.
Breen added that Haas has also invested in virtual classrooms for faculty use, where professors can simulate teaching in a real classroom.
Campus faculty members are also using the program as an opportunity to pursue “interesting and intriguing” pathways, including colleague showcases, an experience hard to replicate in an in-person class, Breen said.
“For example, they can bring in their colleagues, who are experts in different parts of the same field, into their asynchronous content,” Breen said. “If somebody has an expertise in demand management and pricing in microeconomics, they could do a section in the course.”