If you aren’t fully convinced that free online degrees are the way of the future, neither am I.  I received a tremendous amount of value from both my undergraduate and my graduate experiences, and I wouldn’t trade those experiences in for a free degree earned from the comfort of my bedroom. There is no true substitute for the classroom environment, for realtime exchanges between teacher and student, for lively face-to-face discussion. So I’m certainly not saying there isn’t any value to a traditional MBA. However, given my particular situation, the numbers just don’t add up. For me - and, I would expect, for many others - a free online degree seems like the way to go.

Here is what makes me a good candidate for a No-Pay MBA:

1. I already have a master’s degree. Having a few more letters behind my name might not open any doors that are currently closed to me.

2. I don’t need the B-school network. I’ve been told that a large part of the benefit of attending business school is acquiring a network. I don’t doubt that this is true, but since I already have a professional network, and because I work in a fairly small field not typically filled with MBA grads - international agricultural development - I think I can forgo that perk of attending business school.

3. I don’t want to stop working. When you consider the lost income from the years you spend in school versus working, the price of an MBA goes even higher. Plus, my work will give me a laboratory for applying what I’m learning.

4. I am disciplined enough to finish the courses and willing to explain my approach to others. The fact is, most people who sign up for online courses don’t finish them. Not only that, most courses don’t give credit. So in order for me to reap any benefit from doing a free MBA, I have to be able to both do the work and convince others that I have learned what I say I’ve learned. It’s a tall order, but in part that’s why I am writing this blog - to provide some accountability in my self-made MBA.

5. I have a particular field of interest that isn’t part of most business schools’ curricula. I want to be able to focus my attention on topics connected to international agricultural development - supply chain management, sustainability labeling, sourcing from developing countries, financing for small farms, and other such themes.

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