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Illinois Will End Residential M.B.A.

May 28, 2019

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced Friday that it plans to shut down its residential M.B.A. programs -- full-time and part-time -- to focus on its online M.B.A., which it calls the iMBA.

The move still requires formal university approval, but the announcement is a sign of the shift going on in business education -- in many cases away from traditional M.B.A. programs. Several universities have scaled back or eliminated such programs and focused instead on online or one-year master's programs in business-related fields.

Applications to the iMBA program have tripled from 1,100 when the program started in 2016. The total cost for the iMBA is $22,000. The Illinois announcement noted that a traditional M.B.A. "can easily cost $80,000" -- and the figures are much higher at private institutions.

“The iMBA is the right format for the times -- providing a powerful learning experience with anytime/anywhere accessibility at an affordable cost,” said a statement from Jeffrey Brown, dean of the Gies College of Business at Illinois. “Given the global reach and accessibility of this program, we are creating what I call the world’s M.B.A. With this and with our innovation in undergrad, specialized master's and lifelong learning, we are playing to our competitive advantages and positioning ourselves for tremendous impact and steady growth. These moves will focus our investment in ways that will make us unquestionably one of a handful of the world’s very best and most innovative business schools.”

Illinois will allow current M.B.A. students and those planning to start programs this year to finish. But the university has also extended the deadline for refunds on deposits for the residential program and will allow admitted students to shift automatically to the iMBA.

Here is an article from Inside Higher Ed in 2016 on the launch and growth of the iMBA.

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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