Tag: Online MBA

Sophie Richards at her computer.

The Online MBA program at Olin is a transformative journey meticulously designed to accommodate the needs of students balancing their professional obligations with their academic ambitions. Olin’s dynamic program offers the versatility to learn from any location worldwide, empowering students to immediately apply newly acquired knowledge and skills to their current roles.

The Online MBA curriculum continues evolving to address the digital transformation technologies students will encounter. While doing so, it maintains the same convenience and flexibility without compromising the quality of the learning experience. Throughout the program, students collaborate to develop crucial skills necessary for success in today’s dynamic business landscape. Keeping pace with emerging industry trends, the Online MBA curriculum equips students with the latest tools and frameworks to excel and stay competitive.

It’s time to experience the power of a program designed to elevate careers to the next level and focus on learning outcomes that last a lifetime.

How does the Online MBA work at Olin?

Choosing an MBA program is a pivotal decision—one that should be both fulfilling and empowering. This is why Olin designed the Online MBA to be more than just an academic journey; it’s an experience that balances academic rigor, flexibility and community engagement, creating a comprehensive learning environment that is both challenging and supportive.

The OMBA’s evolving curriculum is thoughtfully designed, taking into account the demands of the modern business landscape. This ensures the program is not merely theoretical but practically applicable to students’ existing careers or the ones they’re striving toward. The program encompass a broad spectrum of subjects, including fundamental business principles, emerging trends and innovative business practices.

The cohort model is the key to the program’s evolution, fostering a diverse and collaborative online MBA community. As part of cohorts, students join a collective of like-minded professionals where they will learn, grow and succeed together. This model encourages students to learn from each other’s diverse experiences, perspectives and skills. The relationships students build within their cohorts often extend beyond the program, forming a robust network of business professionals that can significantly influence career trajectories.

Olin’s dedicated team of tutors and advisors supports students’ academic journeys. They provide personalized guidance throughout the program, assisting students in understanding complex concepts, developing effective study strategies and navigating any challenges. With this blend of academic rigor, supportive community and wealth of resources, students will always feel encouraged and equipped to succeed.

Innovating education: Integrating digital and on-campus experiences

As the future of MBA education becomes increasingly digital, Olin is at the forefront of this shift. The OMBA is designed to be 100% online, giving students the flexibility to complete coursework anytime, anywhere. Olin’s proprietary learning management system, learn.WashU, was created with the sole purpose of enabling students to complete their MBA programs with unparalleled flexibility. Through interactive classrooms, robust research tools and personalization features, students have access to an online MBA education that doesn’t sacrifice an engaging, seamless learning experience.

Acknowledging the importance of in-person interactions and on-campus experiences, the program has advanced to incorporate an optional blend of on-campus and online experiences, catering to diverse student needs. Students can enjoy the flexibility of online coursework and the option to take elective courses on-campus with Olin’s Professional MBA students if they wish.

These options enable students to broaden their networks across both programs, connecting with a diverse array of professionals, peers and faculty members. This hybrid model brings the best of both educational worlds, fostering a balanced, enriching and connected learning experience. Olin’s “Chill Chat Series: Network Nights,” in particular, serve as vibrant platforms for idea sharing, relationship building and community fostering that extend beyond the classroom.

Developing leaders for the digital future

The program is constantly evolving, committed to molding leaders to leverage technology strategically. As a result, the Online MBA is not merely a program focused on technical skills; it’s a transformative experience. It prepares students to navigate and manage significant changes in our ways of living, working and connecting.

With the contemporary workplace transitioning towards remote and blended environments, the Online MBA is an optimal choice for refining leadership abilities. Students in the Online MBA program collaborate in teams, fostering an engaging and interactive environment that closely mirrors traditional classroom settings. Through this teamwork, students hone their leadership skills and are well-prepared for success in today’s ever-evolving workforce.

The business world gradually shifts toward digital landscapes. As such, the Online MBA program is committed to equipping students with the necessary tools and insights to navigate this evolving landscape effectively and ethically. Olin is excited about the possibilities the future holds for the Online MBA program—one that adapts to the needs of the students and market trends. Olin’s commitment to providing an enriching, flexible and empowering educational experience remains unwavering.

Pictured above: Sophia Richards at her computer during the inaugural class of Olin’s Online MBA program.

Professor Staci Thomas, shown with Synthia, an AI teaching assistant, as part of Thomas

Artificial intelligence already is having a seismic effect on business communications, thanks to the availability of ChatGPT and other AI tools. So, time is of the essence in getting MBA students up to speed on the potential—and the challenges—posed by this rapidly evolving technology.

Enter Generative AI for Communicators, a six-week course offered as part of WashU Olin’s Online MBA curriculum. Staci Thomas, professor of practice in management communications, said she developed the class to explain underlying models that direct AI tools, as well as how they are used in business communications.

“We wanted to take a realistic approach to the course and tell students how these models work,” Thomas said. “They need to understand the flaws and the biases while also understanding the potential.”

To prepare to launch the class, Thomas took several courses in AI, but she doesn’t see herself as an expert. “Rather than saying I know everything, I act as a facilitator and collaborate with people to create a course that covers all the different angles.”

She brings in experts in the use of generative AI in business communications, including industry professionals who already use it. Thomas worked with Olin Professor Salih Tutun, an AI expert, on the technical content and Seth Carnahan, an associate professor of strategy, on ethical issues related to AI.

“There’s an ethics element to every module,” Thomas said. “AI is rife with ethical issues.” She noted that the data set on which the models are based can be pulled from a variety of sources of varying quality. “So it’s pulling both from academic journals and from, say, Reddit.” The models can also mimic the biases of the humans who train them.

Despite these challenges, Thomas said the technology is already a vital business tool.

“I believe we have to embrace it,” she said. “As we talk to business professionals, they’re using it every day. We’re doing our students a disservice if we don’t show them how to use it well.”

An AI-powered assistant: Meet Synthia

To help illustrate the potential uses of AI technology, Thomas worked with the team at Olin’s Center for Digital Education, which provides e-learning support for the OMBA program, to craft a special virtual environment for the course.

AI was used to create background images and even a robot “teaching assistant” named Synthia.

“The robot was animated so that it could move and interact with Staci on the video,” said Jorge Delgado, a video production specialist with the CDE.

The script for Synthia’s dialogue was created in ChatGPT. Verity Woody, a multimedia developer at the CDE, said they used an AI tool called Speechify to convert the text to audio and design Synthia’s voice.

“You can make the voice as robotic or humanlike as you want,” she said. “I wanted to make it sound like she was a robot, but not a ‘beep-boop’ metallic-sounding robot.”

Despite the significant use of AI, Thomas said the team’s creative input was vital.

“We say we built it using AI, but it took humans to actually do it,” she said. “We talked about context, history, the understanding of the program and the students. There were critical questions these guys asked me throughout the development to make it work. It was undeniably a team effort.”

Those conversations allowed Delgado and Woody to work with AI tools while also considering their impact.

Woody said she sees the utility of AI. But she worries about the impact on human artists whose work could be appropriated without compensation or credit. “Like a lot of things, it can be used for good or for not-so-good things,” she said. “I hope we get regulations (to protect artists), but I think there can be a harmonious relationship with AI.”

Since AI technology is already so widely available, Delgado said professionals need to adapt to using it, while ensuring they’re doing so ethically.

“One interviewee (in the course) said something that really stuck with me: ‘It’s not that AI is going to take your job; it’s the people who can utilize AI to its full capacity who are going to take your job.’ It’s out there. If you don’t use it, you’re missing out on opportunities,” he said.

As AI continues to evolve and impact the business world, Thomas sees the potential to incorporate it into future courses. “I don’t think this should be the only course we have on AI—it’s a starter course. We’re putting a stake in the ground with this.”

AI tools used to create the Generative AI for Communicators course:

ChatGPT 3.5 & 4 (with plugins) and Google Bardlanguage-processing chatbots that can generate humanlike text.  
Bing AIan AI-powered search engine and chatbot
Midjourneya program that creates images from natural language descriptions
Speechifyan AI voice studio that translates text into voice files

Pictured: Staci Thomas, professor of practice in management communications, and Synthia.

Anjan Thakor uses a lightboard to reinforce his lecture points as he conducts an online course.

What makes a great MBA program? Famous faculty? Dynamic students? A state-of-the-art library of learning resources? When students are figuring out what to look for in an MBA program, they need a mixture of qualities and features that will signal that they’ve uncovered a great, high-quality online experience.

At Olin Business School, we’ve discovered a lot about what makes a successful program. It boils down to a handful of key elements. These elements encompass great faculty, great students, great support and great technology. Each of these elements feeds back to the others. A diverse group of students enriches the faculty’s teaching and draws world-class educators to the campus. A great support team aids the digital surface of an online program. And so on.


Are you wondering how to choose an online MBA program? When sifting through online MBA program requirements, there are a few key elements to look out for. These elements contribute to a student’s experience of an MBA and combine to boost the overall value of this kind of learning.

P is for Personal

A great online program connects a student to the faculty. Faculty members are so present and involved in the student’s ideas that they feel like friends by the end of the program. An MBA that uses video regularly to film faculty and connect cohorts together will succeed in making their program more immersive and social.

R is for Rich

In a dynamic program, students aren’t sitting in front of their screens hour after hour, watching PowerPoint presentations and screencasts. The ideal program will give you a variety of media and interactions to experience. You will meet a variety of faculty members and practitioners, and you will complete a variety of challenging tasks. This is the foundation of a rich experience.

I is for Interactive

Learning business is not a spectator sport. You may be sitting in your bedroom or your study, but you will actively be engaging with course materials and interacting with fellow students, faculty, quizzes and discussions. A complete range of interactive learning methods and modules helps students engage thoughtfully with their own ideas.

N is for Networking

A great program helps a student build a working network of friends, mentors and collaborators—people who will support and join that student’s business ventures into the future. In an online MBA, students work in groups with people who come from a very broad geographical and cultural reach, establishing this diverse mix of friends and helpers.

C is for Communication

Communication is a vital element of any program but especially an online one. From live Zoom sessions to lectures to time for questions, an online MBA needs to carefully bring together spontaneous, “in the room” discussions and give students an opportunity to think and respond with their best ideas.

E is for Engagement

Engagement is what should naturally follow from all of the above elements. Get communication, networking, interactivity, rich variety and personalization in place, and the MBA program can’t help but entice and engage its students.

Two more points to add

There are two further points we can add to really drive home our MBA’s effectiveness and turn this PRINCE into a PRINCESS:

S is for Smart

In today’s world, “smart” no longer refers to aptness; to succeed in the world of business requires an education in data and digital technology. A smart MBA uses the power of data and digital tools to make the program more intuitive and engaging. Technology allows faculty to check in on students who haven’t used the platform or haven’t been engaged, and it allows them to ask how they can help in a personalized and direct way.

S is for Simple

The final letter of our model refers to the simplicity it takes to make a learning program clear and easy to use, while still challenging students academically and professionally. We aim for our technology and materials to provide clear water through which our students can learn to swim.

Are online MBA programs credible? Absolutely. An online MBA is a different animal from an in-person, on-campus program, even though it will be based on the same foundational courses and components. A great online program needs to be dedicated to making a continued, significant investment in a center of digital education. Done correctly, online learning provides an engaging, supportive education while breaking down the traditional barriers that have held back our education system for so long. And that’s where Olin shines.

We are entering a new era in education. Learners of all ages have experienced a significant life change over these past few years, and their expectations for a traditional university environment have been blown apart.

As such, it is more important than ever for MBA programs to be able to evolve. The pandemic has changed the way we all work, the way careers look and the ways in which businesses operate. For students to be prepared to enter the new world of work, all levels of schooling will need to drastically adjust the online learning environments and resources that are being created.

Dynamism has always been a vital part of an MBA program, whether online or on campus, but people are increasingly realizing the power and potential of a great online MBA experience. By including many types of support and with faculty collaborating to produce comprehensive materials, digital technology can power an even more personal and engaging learning experience for students.

How is an online MBA program meeting students where they’re at?

Accredited online MBA programs are best suited to serve students in this unique time due to the very platform they’re based on—fully virtual classrooms. Online programs are more suitable for a wider variety of students by offering the same fundamentals, learning modules, teaching quality and admissions standards while still being flexible. This ensures that people with different scheduling, financial and accessibility needs have access to higher education.

One wonderful thing about a more flexible program is the range of students it attracts. The online MBA draws a diverse population of students—different backgrounds, languages, industry experiences, religions, etc.—and the program becomes richer because of this diversity. It also means that great instructors are drawn to the program, too.

At Olin, our online MBA has a support network that acts like a scaffold, providing a firm foundation so all learners and instructors can progress through the program together. Instructional designers work with production specialists to create great, supportive materials. The digital publishing team follows that up with digital textbooks that evolve to meet how students are actually learning. Then, eLearning Support Assistants are there to help students in real-time as they navigate their education experience.

Additionally, our courses are produced and accessible through our Center for Digital Education and our proprietary learning platform, learn.WashU. The Center for Digital Education provides staff support through dedicated studio facilities that can record large quantities of high-quality digital materials. The learn.WashU platform gives students a reliable and engaging virtual environment, like a digital campus. Platform resources are individualized for students to offer personal guidance, while access to data means feedback and adjustments can happen immediately.

How is the online MBA evolving to meet student needs?

As the future of business leadership shifts and reforms, an online MBA program is only as good as its ability to evolve. Here’s what we’re doing at Olin to ensure we continue to be the best place for students to develop MBA leadership skills:

Using feedback to grow

Students’ needs and expectations are in flux, so it’s important that providers are constantly listening to students’ thoughts and concerns. We have multiple evaluation mechanisms so that, even within a term, we can make adjustments to the way we teach, organize and communicate. We use qualitative feedback to help us make a learning experience that evolves through data-driven feedback.

Preparing students for a hybrid world

The world of work demands a lot from today’s graduates, and at the forefront of Olin’s mission is to prepare students to enter this world. How to apply for digital-first jobs and succeed. How to communicate the potential of digitalization to employers. How to help others to innovate their processes. These are the MBA leadership skills that we’re nurturing in our students so that they can become the future of business leadership.

Drilling down into MBA fundamentals

Our focus on digital experiences and learning does not mean we’re forgetting about the foundations of MBA skills development. The core principles of MBA learning form the structure of our program, but at the same time, we live and breathe a digital approach so that all of our courses and conversations are colored by the needs of the data-driven business landscape that surrounds us—including AI, cloud infrastructure, and the challenges of remote and hybrid operations.

By focusing our program on dynamic online learning, we deliberately and actively prepare MBA students for a business world that is changing all the time. By offering a safe but ambitious digital-first environment, we show our cohorts that anything is possible in this new world.

Maybe it just popped into your head unexpectedly this morning. Maybe it has been a nagging thought for years now.

“Should I get a master’s degree?”

It’s a question that crosses almost every professional’s mind, particularly for those looking to advance in a career, shake up their job prospects, or check something off their bucket list. Of postgraduate degrees, one of the most popular has quickly become the MBA—and for good reason.

A recent study by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) found that nine out of 10 MBA and business master’s graduates felt business school provided a strong return on investment. The value of the degree itself was just as favorable, with 90% rating it as good, outstanding or excellent.

Given the time and expense, it’s not a decision to take lightly. You need to weigh the reasons for going, determine how you’ll pay for schooling and assess the full scope of career benefits of the degree. It’s also important to find the right program and get to know the possible alternatives to advance your career.

Taking up the coursework

Once you do choose to move forward with a postgraduate degree, it can be advantageous in more ways than you might think. That’s especially true for those debating about earning an MBA through an online program. Here’s a quick breakdown of the ways an online MBA can positively impact your goals.

1. Flexibility. Consisting mostly of busy, often highly successful adults, online MBAs meet students where they are. No matter how many hours you might work in a day, online programs offer the flexibility necessary to pursue a postgraduate degree while maintaining a full-time job.

2. Suitability. Accredited online MBA programs are a good fit for most students. They provide the same academic rigor, admission standards and networking opportunities as on-campus learning. That’s certainly been the case at Washington University’s Olin Business School. Besides, there’s an integrity level that comes with such a prestigious program.

3. Knowledge. MBAs can up the ante on your knowledge base, allowing you to bring more to the table professionally. All the students in an online program say they’ve learned exponentially more than what they’ve gleaned in their professions. You have a chance of learning the nuances of running a business both nationally and internationally.

4. Mobility. MBAs can make you incredibly mobile, as far as where you can take the degree and what you can do with it. Many positions are unavailable without it. Even if this level of degree isn’t a prerequisite, earning one can serve as an indication of your motivation, ambition and hard work—all of which can be attractive to potential employers.

5. Accomplishment. The recognition that can come when attaining the level of education that an MBA offers—online or otherwise—is unmatched in many regards. Roughly two-thirds of MBA graduates advance at least one job level after obtaining a graduate business degree, according to the GMAC study. What’s more, the median income is 75% more than their undergraduate counterparts.

Deciding on an online MBA program

One of the biggest benefits of Washington University’s online MBA program is the learn.WashU platform, a proprietary learning management system where students access courses, classmates and instructors. Think of it as a learning environment mixed with a research network. Not only can you take part in class sessions and complete assignments but shape your learning experience to suit your specific needs.

To be sure, learn.WashU is different from other learning platforms like Canvas, Blackboard, Moodle, and so on. The online course delivery would be a logical comparison, but learn.WashU also offers a difference in digital course design, faculty training, media production and digital publishing. Lifelong learning modules are also available to students.

In fact, student engagement with the learning platform has exceeded expectations. They’ve really taken to it. Ultimately, learn.WashU is a whole network of different components that students can draw from while they’re working through their online MBA programs. It has become a seamless experience and a highly valuable tool for students and faculty alike.

The platform also offers career resources, individualized to the student. It matches the school’s services to students’ unique needs by getting to know each student as a person. The team listens to your goals and aspirations and then uses this information to offer guidance on where to focus your attention. Trust that there’s always someone available to coach and mentor you to better ensure success.

Above all else, the program wants students to get their degrees, so much that faculty members are on the phone with online students at 11 p.m.—literally. Learn.WashU understands that you’re busy, working adults. As bright as you may be, you will need help. Perhaps you’ll need tutoring because of a difficult course. Maybe you just need a pep talk. Whatever the case, learn.WashU keeps you connected to whatever you need to achieve your degree.