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How to Recreate an Elite Ivy-League MBA Education at Home

Manchild_Unbound

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The other day I was on Google searching around for an "MBA Curriculum" mostly out of curiosity and I came across HomemadeMBA.com

The owner of the website took it upon himself to recreate the first year required curriculum of Harvard Business School. This is what it looks like:


He would do this by searching for free courses on Coursera on the same topic and completing them one by one. The author decided to take these massive open online courses(MOOC) in order to prepare for an actual MBA.


I always love stories like these. We are living in an era in which an elite education is accessible to the masses. And the only thing people have to do is decide to do it and make time for it. It's the sort of DIY mindset that makes it possible to ;earn your way to the fastlane." This very forum exists because MJ DeMarco taught himself web technologies by going to his local library.


Who Should Pursue This
  • Anyone who wants to add to their knowledge base about business.
  • If not an entrepreneur, this could give you a very solid primer on how business works. This can be the ultimate business 101 course if that is what you're looking for.
  • Whoever is going to pursue an MBA, much like the original author. This is especially true if you are to pursue a less-than-elite education, but are left wondering what you are missing out on with an elite university; in other words, it's a great way of conquering FOMO.
  • Whoever is up to the challenge or simply wants to do it. I am reminded of Scott Young and his MIT Challenge where he completed MIT's 4-year Computer Science curriculum in less than a year using freely available MIT courses online. He didn't do it to become a software engineer, he just wanted to challenge himself. And that's a perfectly valid reason. In a similar vein are the folks on this very forum who took the Gary Halbert Copywriting Challenge.
  • Post by the HomemadeMBA author: Why make your own MBA: The pros of a self-study MBA
Drawbacks
  • The greatest benefit of an elite MBA is not necessarily what you are taught, but the professional and social networks and connections that you make while attending. With MOOCs, you might meet some students and future business partners online, but you can go through the whole thing without interacting with anyone.
  • This probably won't help you get a job, even though you could put certificates/credentials of completion into your resume.
  • This can become a form of action-faking. This self-directed course should have a purpose but it certainly is not necessary to start and operate a business. After all, remember that there are successful entrepreneurs on this forum who either didn't go to college or who are doing things unrelated to their degrees.
  • This covers the first year of an elite MBA. In the programs I've looked at, there is on year of required courses and a second year dedicated to electives and a specialization. Chicago Booth for example focuses on fourteen concentrations.

Notes On the Curriculum
  • I have made a few additions to the curriculum. First of which are some foundational courses made up of Financial Accounting, Business Analytics, and Managerial Economics. These courses are offered as bundles in HBX's Credentials of Readiness (CORe) and London School of Economics's MBA Essentials.
    • The HBS Curriculum doesn't include Microeconomics and Macroeconomics, which are often required courses in other MBA or BA curricula. So I added some below.
  • I have made a section made up of MOOCs and one section made up of books.
    • In the books section I include two business classics -- The Intelligent Investor and Security Analysis. Two books which you are likely to encounter in an MBA at some point, and are the favorites of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger.

Recreating an Ivy-League MBA with Online Courses
I include links to the same courses the HomemadeMBA author took and to other similar courses from different sources. I include courses associated with elite institutions, some of which are relatively expensive (but a bargain when compared to an MBA). I'll also include links to other free or low-cost courses on Udemy or Khan Academy where available.

Business Analytics
Managerial Economics
Accounting
Corporate Finance
Entrepreneurship
International Organizations Management
Leadership
Marketing
Operations Management
Strategy
Critical Perspectives on Management

Microeconomics

Macroeconomics

Recreating an Ivy-League MBA with Books
I put this section up as another way of getting a business education. You can use this to supplement the MOOC material, replace it entirely, or to replace a course. This is also complementary to @Argue 's excellent thread, from which I borrowed a few books.

Business Analytics
Managerial Economics

Accounting

Corporate Finance
Entrepreneurship
International Organizations Management

Leadership

Marketing
Operations Management

Strategy
Critical Perspectives on Management
Microeconomics and Macroeconomics
Business Classics


Links Mentioned in Thread

Homemade MBA

Scott Young's MIT Challenge

Ague's Ultimate Guide on What Books to Read
 

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Late Bloomer

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I've seen similar lists, and have done my own self-education through most of the standard MBA curriculum. I think you are missing a couple other things about the MBA program:
  • With a lot of money and reputation at stake, and a need to get a related job to pay off the student loans, there's pressure to complete the program and master it.
  • With other students and the professor or teaching assistant present, there's pressure to keep up with the syllabus, do the homework, be ready to justify your point of view, contribute to group projects.
  • Harvard and some other top schools use the case study approach. Classes include assigned reading about an actual business situation with some big problems. There is not nearly enough time to do a total analysis of all the factors. Students are required to explain, in the next class, what MUST be done and why. This is excellent practice for being in charge with an answer, whether or not it's right at least it's timely and comes across as authoritative.
  • The on campus environment is set up to help facilitate learning. Lecture halls have good acoustics and lighting, excellent audiovisual support, place to put your laptop and legal pad, way beyond what you'd find at most people's homes or public libraries or coffee shops. Libraries have millions of volumes of books and journals, many of them not available on the Internet at all, instantly available for random access and cross-referencing. It's a false assumption that anyone could and should be able to study just as productively without these resources.
Most importantly, the modern business school was developed to train managers to sustain big business systems that had already been created by others.

Some business schools require study of entrepreneurship, startups without millions of dollars of funding, street-smart hustle.

But it's possible to go through most MBA programs without learning a single thing that will help answer the question: I need to make $1,000 in the next two weeks to pay the rent, from some kind of freelancing, have no buddies who can offer me a job, don't have a childhood home to return to, can't put up with a standard boss's BS... what do I do today and tomorrow to get to my goal?
 

FastLaner007

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I have only read MJ's books out of the list and a few more business books on my own. I believe these books are enough to make me at least a Centi-millionaire. I don't know how learning about Accounting and Corporate Finance is going to be useful for my business. I can just hire an accountant or a manager if I need to, can't I? What's your opinion fellas?
 

DavidTT

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I can't really say if it will replace an MBA or if an MBA is useful/useless etc. However, what I can say is that I just took a course on coursera and it's pretty darn good! I usually buy courses on udemy but now I think I'll be more inclined to coursera.
 

Fastlane Liam

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I have only read MJ's books out of the list and a few more business books on my own. I believe these books are enough to make me at least a Centi-millionaire. I don't know how learning about Accounting and Corporate Finance is going to be useful for my business. I can just hire an accountant or a manager if I need to, can't I? What's your opinion fellas?
Completely agree with this -
MJs Books are geared for Entrepreneurship
An MBA is geared for Employment
 

Late Bloomer

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I don't know how learning about Accounting and Corporate Finance is going to be useful for my business.
Accounting means being aware of when, where, and how the money is coming in to the business, and when, where, and how the money is going out of the business. Isn't this obviously useful for any business owner to know? Sure you could delegate the details, but it would be very useful to know what the standard vocabulary and categories are in these reports, so you could understand them and use them as guides to see how well you're doing and valuable information to help you spot problems and make better plans for the future.

Also, Dan Kennedy suggests that you should never delegate signing the checks (or authorizing the payments) that spend money going out of a business. He has some horror stories about sleazy secretaries or other scammers, who made a fake supplier company and funneled money to it. For example, if you bought widgets that you resold, and your supplier was Widgets Inc., the scammers might create a company Widgets LLC or Widgetsinc Corp., and if they're in charge of your checkbook, they could put your money there to line their own pockets.

Finance means where the money comes from to start a business in the first place, or to expand a business, if it's from something other than just selling stuff as you go. Isn't this obviously useful as well?
 

JAVB

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I've seen similar lists, and have done my own self-education through most of the standard MBA curriculum. I think you are missing a couple other things about the MBA program:
  • With a lot of money and reputation at stake, and a need to get a related job to pay off the student loans, there's pressure to complete the program and master it.
  • With other students and the professor or teaching assistant present, there's pressure to keep up with the syllabus, do the homework, be ready to justify your point of view, contribute to group projects.
  • Harvard and some other top schools use the case study approach. Classes include assigned reading about an actual business situation with some big problems. There is not nearly enough time to do a total analysis of all the factors. Students are required to explain, in the next class, what MUST be done and why. This is excellent practice for being in charge with an answer, whether or not it's right at least it's timely and comes across as authoritative.
  • The on campus environment is set up to help facilitate learning. Lecture halls have good acoustics and lighting, excellent audiovisual support, place to put your laptop and legal pad, way beyond what you'd find at most people's homes or public libraries or coffee shops. Libraries have millions of volumes of books and journals, many of them not available on the Internet at all, instantly available for random access and cross-referencing. It's a false assumption that anyone could and should be able to study just as productively without these resources.
Most importantly, the modern business school was developed to train managers to sustain big business systems that had already been created by others.

Some business schools require study of entrepreneurship, startups without millions of dollars of funding, street-smart hustle.

But it's possible to go through most MBA programs without learning a single thing that will help answer the question: I need to make $1,000 in the next two weeks to pay the rent, from some kind of freelancing, have no buddies who can offer me a job, don't have a childhood home to return to, can't put up with a standard boss's BS... what do I do today and tomorrow to get to my goal?
I definitely agree with most said in here... But (there's always a but) the question is if all these pros are worth the investment of money and time in a traditional MBA. In fact, I'm actually considering right now an online version for $5k with a scholarship, or an offline version, in my city, without scholarship, for $40k. Difference is immense, but this just tells you how much importance I give to those pros you mention. I've been self-learning/teaching 95% of the skills I've acquired in the past 10 years... And networking and professional relationships have suffered indeed. Sure, you can say there are meetups and conferences... But these ways of networking are more tedious and less effective.

So, yes, you can get the business theory from multiple resources nowadays, that's not in doubt in this era. The thing is, can we find a way to replicate the peer pressure and networking while using all this online resources ? Perhaps a business idea there.


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Late Bloomer

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The thing is, can we find a way to replicate the peer pressure and networking while using all this online resources ? Perhaps a business idea there.
Yep, perhaps even a forum that could keep people on the straight and narrow. One might even say, keep 'em focused on the Fastlane of life, so to speak...
 

LynetteP

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I have only read MJ's books out of the list and a few more business books on my own. I believe these books are enough to make me at least a Centi-millionaire. I don't know how learning about Accounting and Corporate Finance is going to be useful for my business. I can just hire an accountant or a manager if I need to, can't I? What's your opinion fellas?
You want to know enough to know if your accountant is trustworthy. That means you need to have enough knowledge to ask good questions. You also need to know that how you structure a deal can affect how it looks on the books to others (important if you have outside investors/loans), and it can have huge tax implications too. Be aware also that there are accountants that do books, and those that do taxes. I audited books, but never did taxes for work. Many accountants specialize this way. HTH!
 

LynetteP

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I definitely agree with most said in here... But (there's always a but) the question is if all these pros are worth the investment of money and time in a traditional MBA. In fact, I'm actually considering right now an online version for $5k with a scholarship, or an offline version, in my city, without scholarship, for $40k. Difference is immense, but this just tells you how much importance I give to those pros you mention. I've been self-learning/teaching 95% of the skills I've acquired in the past 10 years... And networking and professional relationships have suffered indeed. Sure, you can say there are meetups and conferences... But these ways of networking are more tedious and less effective.

So, yes, you can get the business theory from multiple resources nowadays, that's not in doubt in this era. The thing is, can we find a way to replicate the peer pressure and networking while using all this online resources ? Perhaps a business idea there.


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Can you just pick a couple of carefully chosen courses IRL for networking, and do the rest the cheap way?
 

Late Bloomer

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I'm actually considering right now an online version for $5k with a scholarship, or an offline version, in my city, without scholarship, for $40k.
I wasn't trying to assign the right dollar value to those features... just pointing them out.

Joel, are you seeing potential $35k value in the networking and on-campus experience? Or is that too high a price for what you'd likely get?
 

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Manchild_Unbound

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Hello. Great feedback and responses, especially from @Late Bloomer . Though I do feel you skimmed over where I wrote about the drawbacks which included the lack of networking and socializing.

I started this thread for 2 reasons:
  1. I found the HomemadeMBA website and just thought it was really cool what the original author did. Instead of just linking to it, wanted to make a detailed post with my own minor contributions and additions.
  2. A hub with quality links not unlike Argue's thread. Whether someone wants to learn something like Finance or Accounting or whatever, they can bookmark this page and start here.
Can you just pick a couple of carefully chosen courses IRL for networking, and do the rest the cheap way?
You probably could. Some schools have short certificate programs. This is where you go to the campus for a few courses. Take Harvard Extension for example-- you could do everything the cheap way and come here for a graduate certificate (4 courses, $10k) and use your time there for networking.

Graduate Certificates

Executive Education Programs for Individuals – Wharton
Executive Education | Yale School of Management
Certification of Professional Achievement in Business | Columbia University School of Professional Studies
 

Late Bloomer

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Though I do feel you skimmed over where I wrote about the drawbacks which included the lack of networking and socializing.
Sorry about that, you covered a lot of material and I apologize if I minimized it... that wasn't my intention. Hopefully others will catch all that you intended to say, without missing any of it. I agree it's a valuable thread with some great discussion. Thanks for launching it!
 

404profound

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I have only read MJ's books out of the list and a few more business books on my own. I believe these books are enough to make me at least a Centi-millionaire. I don't know how learning about Accounting and Corporate Finance is going to be useful for my business. I can just hire an accountant or a manager if I need to, can't I? What's your opinion fellas?
I agree.

*Stares at masters degree on desk begrudgingly*
 

LynetteP

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I agree.

*Stares at masters degree on desk begrudgingly*
Well, depends on how you look at it. Mine's been in the original envelope since I got it, in a file. And yes, it was indeed a pain to get it. But I enjoyed the experience, learned a lot about people, and my favorite class was "entrepreneurship." Imagine that. I'm still very glad I have it- gives me a bit of credibility to certain people, which has been helpful. It allowed me to more easily "pay my dues" early on and (finally) get work I loved (at least for awhile!) when I still pretty fresh out of school. Mine gives people a starting point for expectations, so at least for me, it's still an asset and a time saver. I have MPA after my name on LinkedIn, and I know it has opened doors. Plus I'm interested in creating an edu app, and the academic folks really like it when you have extra letters by your name. :)
 

404profound

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Well, depends on how you look at it. Mine's been in the original envelope since I got it, in a file. And yes, it was indeed a pain to get it. But I enjoyed the experience, learned a lot about people, and my favorite class was "entrepreneurship." Imagine that. I'm still very glad I have it- gives me a bit of credibility to certain people, which has been helpful. It allowed me to more easily "pay my dues" early on and (finally) get work I loved (at least for awhile!) when I still pretty fresh out of school. Mine gives people a starting point for expectations, so at least for me, it's still an asset and a time saver. I have MPA after my name on LinkedIn, and I know it has opened doors. Plus I'm interested in creating an edu app, and the academic folks really like it when you have extra letters by your name. :)
You are right, my field (organizational psychology and stats) did offer some great insight on human behavior and working with complex concepts / calculations. However, what I've begun to realize is that more learning happens by dealing with life than sitting in front of a PhD who never leaves her/his lab. The acronym got me my current job, but when it's all said and done, I hope I never have to be called anything but my first name once I find success in entrepreneurship. To your point about having credibility in your target market, that certainly makes sense. At the same time, if your app solves a big enough problem, the market likely wouldn't care if it was created by someone who has a GED or a PhD, as long as it worked.
 

Argue

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Bump.

Scott Young is an amazing human being. Reading some stuff from his blog and applying it to my life.

Once I get more free time, I’m going to execute a self taught MBA :smile:
 

LittleWolfie

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, can't put up with a standard boss's BS... what do I do today and tomorrow to get to my goal?
Even if you can put up with the standard boss BS, it would be hard.

I'd love to be able to provide the networking connections too all those people, help them find the people who can give them work.

Of course then once everyone is networking, it might not be as effective.

This also shows how cheap training can be, yet wirh so many out of work, employers can't find and train suitable people?
 

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