MSCS vs pMBA vs ALMM

When I started this blog, my stated purpose for completing my undergraduate degree was to get a credential that I needed to attend graduate school. Now that I’m essentially done with the ALB program (I walk at June commencement) I’m finding that it’s a little more difficult to choose a program than I initially thought.

One of the problems that I face, and I’m sure that others face is one of resources: time and money. Another concern is the desire for flexibility in how the actual classes are delivered. There are a lot of distance/part-time options out there but they vary in quality very widely.

Initially, I was thinking about Columbia’s CVN program for a Master’s degree in Computer Science. The problem with this is the fact that EACH class costs a little over $4000. The classes are delivered on-line and there is no residency requirement.

Another option is the Part-time MBA from UMass-Amherst. It’s also delivered completely online and a relative bargain. The whole program of 37 credits will only cost a about 26K. That’s a big savings over the cost of about $45K for the MS at Columbia.

Then there is a third option: the ALM-M program at HES. It requires 12 classes, but each class is only about $2K. Not only is that a little less expensive than the pMBA program, but it’s a tad more attractive since it appears there is some evidence that they will be increasing the admissions requirements. This can only benefit the program. It’s a unique idea, since the Harvard Business School already offers a (very prestigious) MBA at a very expensive 46K per year (and you require two years). It appears that it is a bit MBA-like, with some other coursework thrown in to make the program a bit more tailored for someone who isn’t necessarily on track to be a CEO but wants to add to their management/leadership skill-set.

I’m still trying to decide and it isn’t fun. Whatever choice I make, I’m going to incur some opportunity cost.

I need to think long and hard about this.

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3 Responses to MSCS vs pMBA vs ALMM

  1. Jim says:

    Richard, I just stumbled across your blog as I went back to the HES site for the 500th time trying to decide what I am going to do (and I have a few years on you). Interesting reading. Wanted to let you know that I have taken a few courses in the pMBA online at UMASS. Great courses and great instructors. I have similar feedback to your comments about on-line courses. I also tried a few online course at WPI. Great instructors. I’ve been running my own business for many years and was trying to figure out if the MBA would add value. In the end I just decided it wasn’t where I wanted to go and made a different decision. Now I just have to find out if the schools I would like to attend would like me! Good luck.

  2. Mark says:

    Did you end up picking an option? I was also looking at the ALM-M program at HES. I come from a business background having worked at fortune 150 companies in marketing. I think the courses would be fine for someone coming from marketing. The finance track seems to be more like what most MBA programs are like. However, if your not local it seems hard to get all the requirements you need from online courses with the finance track. Plus, just my opinion, it seems harder to be able to learn finance outside a classroom setting. I think a lot of the other requirements are achieveable with an online course.

    I’d be interested in what you pick. I’m leaning toward the ALM-M, too, and want to see if you choose that route/taken any courses in that program. I think the value when comparing to top-notch MBA programs would be great. You’ll miss the networking which I’ve heard from Harvard MBA grads was the reason they did it and the #1 thing they got out of it. However, they paid $80K++ for it and had to take 2 years off work. One almost left after a year b/c he got all the contacts he needed. He ended up finishing it, but was seriously thinking about going back to work.

  3. Dustin says:

    You might want to consider the lgoner term costs of getting an online MBA degree. If you look at the top 50 MBA schools, their starting salaries are all in the 70-150k/year range. If you get an online MBA, you will probably be no better off than you were before you got the degree. Online MBAs are not respected by any top companies. If you really want to be in business, take the time, study hard, and go to a real MBA school. Your return on investment going to a top-50 real MBA school will be vastly higher than if you get an online MBA.

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