Food for Thought Friday: Can Online Courses Get You College Scholarships?

whartonby Kristie Burk

This past February, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania announced that on April 6th it will start offering a Business Foundations Specialization series through Coursera.  The series of four online courses in Accounting, Finance, Marketing and Operations Management (taught by Wharton’s professors) and a capstone project allows participants to “complete a project with industry partners to help solve a specific real-world problem.”

There are a few things that make this announcement unique.  First, the courses are open anyone that wants to take them.  Second, people only have to pay $95 for each course and they can take it again for free if they don’t pass the first time. (For comparison, Wharton estimated the educational budget for first-year students in the academic year 2014-2015 to be $97,542.)

Third, Wharton will invite the top 50 performers each year to apply to one of the School’s graduate business programs and waive the application fee. Did you read that correctly?  You’re invited to apply for free to one of the most prestigious business schools in the country just by doing well on the online courses!

And lastly, Wharton will also offer up to five $20,000 scholarships to students admitted to its MBA program who have excelled in the completion of the specialization in the previous twelve months.  Of course, that still leaves you with the bill for the other $77,542…

This brick-and-mortar institution is recognizing that good performance on these online courses is a good indication that the students will do well in its MBA program. In other words, a person’s ability to learn online could be very lucrative.  Food for Thought on this unlucky Friday!



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