Backdoor entry to the Ivies (sort of); dual MBA – MS/PhD degrees

November 19, 2005 at 11:15 am 2 comments

The New York Times yesterday reported the rising interest of younger (enrolling at Harvard University Extension School. Some are “drawn by the chance to experience Harvard at bargain-basement prices. (…)About $550 per lecture course compared to about $4,000 per course at Harvard College.

With at least 40% of the classes taught by bona fide Harvard instructors and some courses identical to those at Harvard College, the only difference is the title of the degree: “And there is the diploma, a bachelors of liberal arts in extension from Harvard University (that other diploma says bachelors of arts from Harvard College).

For people who are familiar with the educational landscape, this is not new. On the local scene, Hardwarezone forums is popular with Singaporeans seeking advice for distance learning/continuing education opportunities. The paper also listed (non-profit) alternatives at Washington U (at St Louis) and University of Maryland University College (different from UMD’s flagship campus at College Park).

Among the ivy colleges, the other university with a similar program (for non-traditionals and students looking for a less competitive admission to an ivy) is Columbia through its School of General Studies (GS). Tuition is steep though, at $976 per credit. With 124 credits required for the BA or BS degree and only up to 60 credits allowed for transfer, one would still expect to pay about $62,000 (~ S$106,000) just for fees for completion of the degree program assuming one did the first 60 credit hours elsewhere on the cheap. The good (or bad, depending on which side you stand) thing is that the diploma awarded will be the same as all other Columbia undergraduates.

Related: Exchange – transfers


A friend was ‘chided’ earlier for not taking advantage of the school’s dual MBA – MS/PhD option (even though he signed up for a Certificate in Management, it’s still considered a poor cousin to the MBA). Cost isn’t an issue as some universities allow for cross registration of MGT classes with the graduate technical ‘core’ courses. If you plan well early enough, you can get the MBA virtually for ‘free’ and simultaneously with your advanced degree with no additional time required. Would strongly recommend if you aspire to be on the research/technical managerial track after graduation. I am a little surprised that not many grad students (in the sciences/engineering) are aware of such a possibility.

Other dual degree programs with rising popularity include the MD/PhD (usually offered jointly by the biomedical engineering dept and the Medical School). We call it Med School on the cheap. The only catch is that it is terribly long (no prizes for guessing the attrition rate) – having to satisfy both the requirements for the MD and PhD portions.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Singaporean Faculty at US universities Asian, too smart for the rest; so the others leave; in-your-face rudeness

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Vivienne  |  November 19, 2005 at 11:57 am

    Well, I think the MBA-Science/Engineering option is a great idea! Apart from reasons that you named,I think the issue of funding is also another perk when apply for joint programmes as such. Correct me if I’m wrong but funding for international students seem to be fewer for MBAs, as compared to MSc programmes in Science and Engineering.

    Also, I know a couple of people who are pursuing the MD/PhD route in the UK and the advantage that they mentioned was that the PhD allows them switch into lecturing, should the opportunity arise.

  • 2. -ben  |  November 20, 2005 at 1:48 pm

    There is also the JD/MBA track. I believe it is 5 years.


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