Breaking barriers in online education at ESMT Berlin

Does this program represent the future of online MBAs? With a groundbreaking online teaching platform and immersive live classroom experiences, the Global Online MBA at ESMT Berlin is pushing new boundaries in online education. We spoke to Rebecca Loades, Director of MBA programs at the school, to find out all about it.

In short

Why ESMT Berlin’s Global Online MBA was four years in the making

Online MBAs may not have been invented during COVID-19, but the global lockdowns certainly triggered an upturn in their popularity. According to the 2021 GMAC Application Trends Survey, 46% of online MBA programs reported a growth in applications that year – a higher proportion than any other MBA format.

As interest in online MBAs has grown, so too has the competition between business schools to offer high-quality programs. One of the main innovators within this space is ESMT Berlin in Germany. Their online MBA was launched in 2021 after the school spent four years investing in advanced education technology to deliver the course. To learn more about those technologies we spoke to Rebecca Loades, the school’s Director of MBA Programs.

“We have the world’s most innovative learning platform: the Hub. This was developed by business schools for business schools, and it is what you use to study our online MBA,” she says. (00:15)

“For example, for our live classes, we use Engagely,” she continues. “Engagely gives you an opportunity to be like you are in a classroom. You have an individual study table, so you’re there with your team. You can see the professor and they can come in, however you can still pass notes around because the professor can’t hear! What we’re trying to do is create and select tools and technologies that support your learning experience.” (00:35)

Online MBA students at ESMT Berlin can expect to study for around 15 hours per week, which includes weekly office hours and live classes. Each live session takes place twice to cater to students in different time zones. Rebecca says that flexibility is a key tenet of the program.

“The Global Online MBA is designed to be flexible, so you can take two years or you can take five years to complete it – [as long as] you’ve completed all of the modules,” she explains. (03:23)

The Global Online MBA’s core modules

The structure of this program is slightly different from traditional MBAs. Because it’s an online program that uses advanced technology to deliver the content to students, it begins with a so-called “Module Zero,” titled “Managing in a connected world.” Rebecca told us a little bit more about this introductory module.

“[It] is a slightly shorter module because we want to get you used to studying online and working with people from all over the world,” she tells us. “This module has two courses. We have Global Virtual Teams, to help you be successful when working with other people in the program. We also have Introduction to General Management, which gives you an overview of all the key elements of a business that you’ll be using.” (01:05)

After this introductory module, students begin the program’s four main core modules. They cover a range of hot topics in business today, expanding upon the Introduction to General Management whilst preparing students for the specialized electives that come afterward.

“The first core module teaches you how to make wiser decisions when faced with uncertainty. Other core modules focus on understanding your market, understanding your organization, and thinking about your organizational strategy,” says Rebecca. (01:48)

Customizing your online MBA

Although this online MBA may differ from a traditional MBA in terms of how the content is delivered, the content itself is largely similar to other programs. After the core modules students have a choice of electives, where they can start to personalize their MBA journey based on their career interests and goals.

“In the elective period you’ll get to choose three or more electives to study,” says Rebecca. “We have a wide range on offer that focus on things like entrepreneurship, digital transformation, quantitative techniques, and international experiences.” (01:59)

As part of these international experiences, students can choose to take part in either the Berlin Experience Week or Global Experience Week. These involve an immersion week either at the school’s Berlin campus or a global destination. Students will learn about business topics relevant to that location, whether that be Berlin’s startup scene or Japan’s aging population. Both electives are optional and offer a chance for students to combine their online studies with global travel.

Does the future of online MBAs lie in Germany?

The program concludes with a capstone project, which gives students the opportunity to put together everything they’ve learned in the program so far. And as with much of the program, things stay flexible when it comes to this final project.

“The last module of the online MBA is the Final Project,” says Rebecca. “This is a chance for you to take everything that you’ve learned over the course of the program and apply it to a real-world business problem. It’s really an opportunity to see how far you’ve come and how far you’ve developed.” (02:58)

“You have about four months to complete your project, so you can make it fit around your work and family commitments. It’s a very rewarding activity,” Rebecca adds. (03:14)

If you’re considering an online MBA, Germany is home to a number of pioneering business schools that are breaking barriers in online education – none more so than at ESMT Berlin. 

Say goodbye to occasional Zoom calls on suspect internet connections; say hello to immersive, interactive classroom experiences delivered through an online lens.

If you’d like to hear from MBA grads from ESMT Berlin directly, get in contact with them via the MBAGRADSCHOOLS Ambassadors Page.

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