A Complete Guide to Getting an MBA-Level Business Education at a Fraction of the Cost

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Laurie Pickard

Laurie Pickard

Author of Don't Pay For Your MBA

Hi! I’m Laurie. 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 when I saw an opportunity to build the business education I had long desired without going into debt. For me, as an international development worker, MOOCs had the added benefit of being accessible from anywhere.

My book and 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

The No-Pay MBA Blog

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.

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5 Strategies to Advance Your Career With MOOCs

It’s official. Your MOOC coursework can improve your career. Last year, the Harvard Business Review reported on a survey of MOOC learners. Over 30% of those surveyed had experienced tangible career improvement as a result of their coursework, with 26% reporting that they had gotten a new job as a result of studying by MOOC. Others reported promotions, pay increases, and starting their own businesses. A whopping 85% of respondents said that they had experienced some kind of career benefit from having taken one or more MOOCs. Here are five strategies for using your MOOC education to get ahead.

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Paying It Forward: How A Social Impact Entrepreneur Got a Business Education That Helps Her Make a Difference

Three years ago, Hillary Strobel ditched a dead-end job to follow a childhood dream of creating a publishing company that could share inspiring stories. When she took that leap, she had some publishing experience but no training on how to run a business. So Hillary used MOOCs and a variety of other online resources to pursue the business education that could turn her dream into a reality. As one of the inaugural members of the No-Pay MBA Network, she has earned a world-class business education and built a global network.

Today, she runs The Flyways, a Social Impact Publishing house and a registered Benefit Corporation, which donates 25% of profits to social justice causes around the world. On the side, Hillary provides consulting services to other business owners looking to develop their own social impact programs.

Find out what Hillary had to say about her No-Pay MBA experience.

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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.

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Meet the Silicon Valley VC Who Squeezed An Entire MBA Into One Course

For obvious reasons, when I learned about a resource promising to be An Entire MBA in One Course, I had to check it out. The course, created by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Chris Haroun, is also one of the most popular business courses on Udemy. I recently caught up with Chris Haroun to ask him a few questions about business education, career management, and his experience teaching one of the most popular business courses on Udemy.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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An Open Letter to Coursera

Dear Coursera,

Let me start by saying that I love what you do. Having used MOOCs to put together a business education equivalent to an MBA, and now as someone who gives advice and guidance to people seeking high-quality, debt-free business education, I am a major proponent of your work.

Which is why I feel compelled to say something about your new revenue model.

Allow me to break it down.

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What’s the real cost of a No-Pay MBA?

No-Pay MBA first made headlines as “An MBA for less than $1000.” We’ve been flying that flag ever since. But where did that $1000 figure actually come from? Here’s where: the reporter of that first big piece about my project asked me, “How much do you plan to spend on your education?”

I answered, “$1000.”

Which at that time was my best guess of how much I would spend, not for the education itself, but for converting my website from Blogspot to a proper, search engine optimized, .com website. I hadn’t actually thought much about the cost of the actual education.

Now, as my No-Pay MBA is drawing to a close (I plan to “graduate” in late spring of this year), I’m finally able to take stock of exactly how much my business education has cost. Here is my final accounting of what I have spent to get a complete No-Pay MBA.

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What Belongs In Your Business Education Portfolio

If you direct your own education, how will future employers know that you’re qualified to hire? Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem. While recruiters may be tepid towards MOOCs, fully 92% of employers say that proven ability to perform is critical to their selection of who to hire, more employers than for any other criterion. Hence, I would like to present the portfolio solution to the credential problem. Here is a list of the skills that I believe every business student should strive to master, along with some suggestions on how to display those skills in an educational portfolio.

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What will you learn this year? 3 ways to use MOOCs in 2016

It’s New Year’s resolution time.

Apparently MOOC platform edX’s new year’s resolution was to create a ton of new business and management content. edX has a bunch of great courses coming online in the new year, including some on specialized topics that aren’t covered on other platforms. This is great news for MOOC business students and a good sign that we will continue to see increases in the number and variety of courses available to us.

edX’s expanded content provides a helpful starting point for showing the range of ways to use MOOCs. Whatever your professional goals, here are three ways MOOCs can help you reach them.

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