Laurie Pickard wanted an education from a world-class business school. She didn’t want to pay the $168,000 for a degree from Wharton. So she found a way to get the education — though minus the sheepskin — for next to nothing.


Laurie Pickard, a development worker in Kigali, Rwanda, is cobbling together what she calls a 'no-pay M.B.A.' with a variety of online courses...

- The Wall Street Journal

Online degree programmes have been around for years, and distance learning as a whole is much older. What is new is that I am able to take courses from top business programmes: accounting from Wharton, entrepreneurship from Sloan, strategy from Darden — the list goes on — without paying anything.

- The Financial Times

Laurie Pickard’s gamble to earn an MBA entirely out of MOOCs is paying off—and not just because she saved six figures by forgoing a traditional degree. As the blogger behind The No-Pay MBA, which chronicles her journey through the B-school curriculum, Pickard has become a household name in the MOOC (massive open online course) world.

- Fortune

The number and quality of free online courses kept improving in 2014, offering everything from guitar lessons to 'no-pay MBAs.'


Hi! I’m Laurie Pickard. I used massive open online courses (MOOCs) from platforms like Coursera and edX to get a business education equivalent to an MBA - for less than 1/100th the cost of a traditional MBA degree.

My journey with MOOC-based education began in 2013, when I saw an opportunity to build the business education I had long desired without leaving the workforce and without going into debt. For me, as an international development worker, MOOCs had the added benefit of being accessible from anywhere – even my home in Kigali, Rwanda.

I started the No-Pay MBA website as a way of documenting my studies, keeping myself accountable, and providing a resource for other aspiring business students. The resources on this site are for anyone seeking a world-class business education using the free and low-cost tools of the internet.  I hope you find them useful!

- Laurie

What You Can Do On This Site:

Download the Free No-Pay MBA Investment Calculator

Learn whether an MBA is a good investment for you - and whether a No-Pay MBA might be better

Build Your FREE MBA Portfolio

A great way to catalog your completed courses and share your non-traditional education with potential employers.

Get 50% Off My Online Course, MBA Your Own Way

This short course on the platform gives you everything you need to get started on your business education. 

Check Out These Recent Blog Posts:

Studying Business Online? Your Credential Options

We’ve continued to see a proliferation of new business credentials that you can earn through online study, ranging from certificates for single courses to U-IL’s iMBA, with a lot of new options in between. While most of these credentials don’t enjoy the same level of recognition as a full-scale MBA, there is reason to believe that some form of credentialing could be valuable in the job search. And at a price many thousands of dollars less than a traditional MBA, the cost-to-value of these new credentials has the potential to be quite high. Here is a rundown of the current options for both degree and non-degree credentials when studying business online, in ascending order of cost.

The MBA Alternative for Small Business Owners

If you currently run or have ever wanted to start your own business, but you don’t have a business background, you may be wondering whether you could benefit from an MBA education. If money were no object, the answer would most certainly be yes. But with tuition soaring into the stratosphere, a business degree is not always a business owner’s best bet. Fortunately, there is an alternative.

Which of the 7 Types of Business Student Are You?

When I first started the No-Pay MBA website – and my quest to get a business education with free tools – it was all about replicating the full MBA, course for course, internship for internship. I wasn’t interested in anything less than the complete MBA experience.

But in working with business students through the No-Pay MBA Network, I’ve seen people approach their business educations in a variety of different ways. While there certainly are people who can benefit from the deluxe business school curriculum, it is no longer the only approach I recommend. In fact, I’ve seen people experience career-changing benefits just from taking a single course.

Through this work and my conversations with independent business students, I’ve identified at least seven different approaches to business education. Figure out which type you are and get targeted recommendations on how to study.

Your Summer Business Reading List

To construct my self-directed business education, I’ve relied on a variety of resources. MOOCs and online courses have been the backbone of my studies, of course, but I’ve also learned many valuable lessons by reading business books.

As folks in the northern hemisphere head into summer, I thought it would be nice to recommend a few of my recent favorites. If you’re in need of some good beach reading, look no further!

Here are some of the most enlightening and thought-provoking business books I’ve read in the past year.

MOOC Motivation Hacks: 30 Tips and Tricks to Keep You On Task

We’ve all been there. You’ve signed up for an online class that you’re super psyched about. You’re finally going to learn to code, or there’s a new design program you’re going to master. Perhaps like me, you’ve got one more finance class to take before you’ll feel fully finished with your MOOC-based business education. But you keep putting it off.

Perhaps you manage to log into the course and get started, but halfway through the first video lecture, you notice that a new email has arrived in your inbox or someone has PM’ed you on Facebook. Before you know it, you’ve been sucked into the vortex we call the internet, the video lecture is over, and you have no idea what the professor said. Sound familiar? I know it does.

Recently, I asked the No-Pay MBA community to help compile a definitive list of all the tips, tricks, and hacks that they use to stay on task while studying online. Here is what we came up with.

6 Ways to Boost Your Productivity While Studying Business

These days, technology is not an option. If you’re studying business or planning to do so, you are trying to increase your productivity as a worker. Ultimately, increasing your productivity – the value you are able to produce in a given amount of time – is what drives your ability to command a higher salary. Productivity is a function of your skills, knowledge, and abilities in combination with the technology you are able to use.

The second half of that equation – technology – is not to be overlooked. No matter what your profession, and even for those of us who are much more poet than quant, there is absolutely no excuse for not becoming proficient at using ordinary workplace technologies.

Here are six tips on how to boost your productivity, wherever you are in your business studies.

Meet Some of the Many People Pursuing No-Pay MBAs


What People Are Saying About No-Pay MBA:

For promotion in my current role at work, an MBA is required / recommended. In addition to demonstrating my knowledge at my company, I have presented my No Pay MBA curriculum to my manager as evidence that I am ready for that next step.

Nick Switzer

No-Pay MBA is becoming a catalyst for people who now recognize that skills are actually more important than a piece of paper. Just as Google and Facebook are happy to hire developers who may not have a formal degree, but stand out on sites such as Stackoverflow and Github, the No-Pay MBA is in a position to make this career path open to business professionals.

Gordon Rogers

Co-founder and President, Edevate

Being able to pick and choose which subjects in which order was really exciting. When I knew there was a topic I needed to learn more about, I could start with a few articles, and then add a MOOC whenever the next appropriate course became available.

Greg Widders

The flexible No-Pay MBA structure is precisely what I need. As a busy, motivated father of 2 young daughters with a demanding job in finance, No-Pay MBA is exactly what the doctor ordered in support of my quest to keep on dreaming BIG.


As someone who suffered through a traditional classroom-based MBA program offline, I assure you, No-Pay MBA’s class choices mirror a traditional MBA program. Even the sequence year to year doesn’t look that different from my own. I actually feel a little silly that I shelled out almost $40,000 for my degree, when you can get a MOOC MBA for much less at higher ranked schools!

Bridget Casey

Money After Graduation

No-Pay MBA unwraps education and ties learners’ outcomes to their grit, persistence, hard work, tenacity, and resourcefulness — not their wallets or the amount of time they spend in a classroom. This, I believe, reflects the true spirit of seeking knowledge and putting it to use to improve one’s quality of life.

Nabeel Gillani

Co-founder, Coursolve

The No-Pay MBA is perfect for me because it doesn’t require me to drop out of work or take a student loan, but it still comes with the rewards of networking and peer support (and pressure!).


My experience so far with No Pay MBA has been absolutely fantastic. I’m having a blast! It’s fun, engaging, interesting, and very empowering. I’m getting a world-class educational opportunity and building a beautiful network by going outside the traditional model and creating a new methodology for learning.