To our pioneer class: Congratulations on your graduation, MBAs!

After comprehensive academic study, extensive case study discussions, and rigorous exams—they’ve done it.

After comprehensive academic study, extensive discourse in our case study discussions, and the completion of rigorous exams, they’ve done it—graduated from a new elite MBA program that’s the only mobile-first degree system.

Smartly’s MBA is aligned with curricula taught at the world’s most prestigious business schools, and our students are selected through an admission process modeled on those of top institutions. Graduates will enjoy the gains from their studies over a lifetime. Indeed, many already point to real world gains from the program.

We congratulate our pioneers on their accomplishment and wish them the very best in their endeavors! But enough of us and our excitement, let’s hear from our students themselves:

Smartly makes it easy for you to demystify the business world. It presents concepts and knowledge in ways that are applicable to any field and can help you have a greater understanding of the world around you. There is no reason not to use Smartly to better yourself. I can’t believe I went to two universities for undergraduate and graduate school, and never learned what Smartly offered.Erin Pellegrino (Cornell University ‘14, Harvard University ‘16, Smartly Summer ‘16)

Smartly’s flipped classroom model was accessible to me everywhere I went, even if I only had 10 minutes. The format engaged me more than most classes I’ve taken in person. I’ve had the chance to get to know amazing classmates, and I feel better equipped to tackle real-world problems with the knowledge I’ve gained.Sachin Doshi (Duke University ‘14, Smartly Summer ‘16)

Finding out about Smartly and deciding to apply is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I had taken the GMAT, done really well on it, and been considering applying to MBA programs but was wary of the time commitment and the student debt involved. And because I’d started and failed with multiple startups in the past and trying once again with another startup as a stubborn entrepreneur, a traditional MBA was simply too difficult of a choice. Thanks to Smartly, on top of having a degree, I now understand many of the business mistakes I had made in the past, how to assess my own strengths, and can see where I can improve my chances for success as an entrepreneur. If only Smartly had existed before I’d started my other companies… but then perhaps I wouldn’t appreciate it as much.Raphael Mun (Carnegie Mellon ‘08, Smartly Summer ‘16)

This MBA will put you at the forefront of business innovation because that’s exactly what it will be to employers.Chance Carpenter (Stanford University ‘15, Smartly Summer ‘16)

The Smartly program is an excellent tool for learning the skills needed to excel in business without attending a traditional university. After just a few courses, I already felt more confident at work and had a better understanding of company operations and business development. I would highly recommend Smartly to anyone looking to improve their skills in finance, accounting, marketing and management.Jennifer Argote (Dartmouth ‘10, Smartly Summer ‘16)

As a single mother of a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old, working a full-time job and a part-time job on the side, this program has made the impossible possible for me. I don’t currently have the time or the money to go back to school, but Smartly’s flexibility has allowed me to achieve this great accomplishment without having to compromise my employment or sacrifice time with my family.Aleisha Matlock (Northwestern ‘15, Smartly Summer ‘16)

I loved Smartly! As an undergraduate engineering major with very little business knowledge, I found the coursework to be straightforward and do a great job of teaching application of the concepts. I have already found myself applying my knowledge every day in my current job!Katie Ernst (Duke University ‘15, Smartly Summer ‘16)

Smartly is the future of education; fast, effective and mobile. If a traditional MBA doesn’t fit your lifestyle, give Smartly a look.Ian Lee (University of North Carolina ‘12, Smartly Summer ‘16, Carnegie Mellon University ‘17)

Smartly was an amazing experience! The platform’s ability to deliver content in bite-sized, case study-based, at-your-own-pace approach really helped me engage with the material and take a lot away from this program. I know I’ll put the skills I learned here to use on the job. All that and a debt burden of $0!Pavel Gurevich (UC Berkeley ‘10, Smartly Summer ‘16)

I loved the Smartly program and recommended it to all my friends. I have never experienced interactive learning the way the Smartly program provides. I was able to understand concepts without reading hundreds of textbook pages. Highly recommended this to anybody who has an interest in learning and wants to take their career to the next level!Lindsey Allard (Dartmouth College ‘14, Smartly Summer ‘16)

Smartly has given me the opportunity to not only work alongside incredibly talented classmates from around the country but also to solidify concepts in a tangible and meaningful way, wherever I am, all via smartphone. Thank you, Smartly!Brooke Gerstein (Cornell University ‘15, Smartly Summer ‘16)

Smartly is the Amazon Prime of MBAs. There’s no reason not to sign up for it. It’s free, the content is highly detailed and memorable, and you get to expand your network with people from top 10 schools. Coming from taking finance courses at Wharton, I found the content of the courses to be of similar caliber.Yash Jain (George Washington University ‘14, University of Pennsylvania ‘16, Smartly Summer ‘16)

Learn more about applying to Smartly’s MBA: https://smart.ly.
Learn more about hiring students from our program: https://smart.ly/hiring.

 

Smartly MBA Student Spotlight: Adrian De Smul

In the last few weeks before Smartly graduates its pioneer MBA class, we wanted to feature some of our outstanding students. Current Smartly student Adrian De Smul, who works at McKinsey and graduated from Princeton, tells us about his decision to join Smartly and plans for the future in the interview below. Browse, connect, and hire candidates like Adrian on the Smartly Talent Network.

Tell us about yourself.
I did my undergrad at Princeton in Mechanical Engineering and did a year abroad at Oxford. I ended up doing a lot of Computer Science. Most of my summers, I found more CS oriented gigs and enjoyed that a lot more so ended up doing a summer internship at McKinsey Digital as a full-stack developer. I joined full-time after I graduated and have been in the digital unit every since. I started off doing some front-end development but ended up switching over to a group that helps clients build agile teams to deliver software more effectively. I’ve learned not only how to deliver software differently but also how to put clients at the center of everything that you do.

What inspired you to do the Smartly MBA?
I thought it was a good change to strengthen my broader range of business skills. Especially, when you look at things like A/B testing and optimization and seeing how to get more statistical rigor in some of these user tests.Being more comfortable reading a balance sheet is not something I have to do very often but it’s nice to have that tool in my toolkit.

What have you enjoyed about Smartly?
The fact that you can do it at your own pace, I love. The fact that it works on your phone – it works everywhere. Each of the lessons is just fun – they never really feel like a chore (with the exception of the Accounting ones, which I’m hiding from). It’s easy and online – that’s what keeps me coming back. I also like the bit of gamification – it’s all broken down into very manageable submodules. You can get through a lesson in a few minutes and feel like it’s just done. You don’t have to get through a huge assignment or anything like that.

How has the Smartly coursework affected your day-to-day?
Right now, I’m working on something related to digital culture. We have a bunch of survey results that came back, and I’m able to look at them with a more critical and statistical eye. we have data based by industry, segmented in all these different ways, and there’s interesting statistical work that you can do when you have that much data. I think being able to look for survey results in a little bit deeper way is something I found interesting. The Marketing courses have also been interesting in the sense that I haven’t really gotten to use it for work yet, but it’s something that is very applicable and is not totally intuitive. The way that you can structure pricing, especially around sales and different marketing opportunities, we kind of skirt around those topics in conversation, but it’s nice to have the vocabulary to be able to talk more authoritatively about the marketing side of things.

What industries most interest you?
Part of the reason I did the Smartly MBA is that I really love EdTech. I wanted to see how Smartly was changing EdTech. That’s definitely one area. I’ve done a lot of work with McKinsey in banking and finance, so I think there’s still some cool ways of getting involved in FinTech that would be a lot of fun and would leverage my skill set really well.

What makes you a great job candidate?
For me, the experience that I’ve had in the past. And the Smartly MBA is yet another different thing that I’ve gotten the opportunity to do. I’ve gotten to work on four continents with a huge variety of teams, clients, and industries. I’ve done work ranging from product ownership to agile coaching to DevOps engineering for an engineering transformation, so it’s been a variety of skill sets, but all-around digital application development and building a great digital team.

***

Would you like to find more candidates like Adrian? Sign up for the Smartly Talent Network to browse and connect with top talent for free.

The Smartly Master Plan: Elite to Open, and Everything in Between

We want to prove to the world that education can be effective and successful when free and online.

Smartly has the overarching mission to innovate in education, and in that spirit we recently launched a free online MBA degree. From time to time, people ask us: “Why are you starting with an ‘elite’ degree? Why be selective when you could open up the opportunity to those who have difficulty accessing education?” We do strongly believe in democratizing education, and this is a question we’ve thought about deeply.

We just can’t help but borrow a page from Elon Musk and Tesla here. Musk spelled out the playbook of starting with the powerful Roadster sports car to show the world that electric cars could actually rival high-end gasoline cars, and then scaling the business, working his way down the marginal cost curve and building more and more affordable cars.

We were inspired by the idea of proving a disruptive approach at the top and working step-by-step to spread the benefits to everyone. We want to prove to the world that education can be effective and successful when free and online. In that spirit, the MBA is our flagship program to demonstrate the power of Smartly to rival some of the best educational institutions in the world. We restricted the first cohort of our MBA program to students similar to those one would find at top brick & mortar programs to show parity in student outcomes. Keep in mind that we are doing this while offering the MBA for free! We are proving the disruptive power of Smartly at the top, all the while adding programs for more and more audiences, including programs that are open as well as free.

While our pedagogical plan is to branch deeper and deeper into additional degrees, certifications, and courses, we’re also going to continue innovating how education is funded. We are soon launching a hiring engine that pushes the cost of education to the companies hiring newly-skilled graduates. Beginning with our MBA students, companies can browse and hire top business talent, and the recruiting fees these companies pay fund the MBA program. Our interests are aligned with those of our graduates: we are only paid when they are achieving successful outcomes, and not with an upfront tuition. This benefits all parties: the student, the employers, and the government guaranteeing these loans (just maybe not the banks). As we add additional programs, we will continue to innovate different models of funding education with the belief that it can be free, open, and online. Smartly is not just another online university, but a whole new approach to education.

The Free MBA Has Landed

We’re excited to announce that Smartly’s groundbreaking free MBA program will open its doors to our first student cohort this week!

 

We’re excited to announce that Smartly’s groundbreaking free MBA program will open its doors to our first student cohort this week!

From the moment MBA applications opened earlier this year, we were overwhelmed by the positive response. Of the thousands of students who applied, we were only able to accept 7% to our first class. We plan to accept students to additional cohorts later this year. 

Our students hail from top undergraduate and graduate schools, drawing from diverse backgrounds spanning engineering and finance to humanities and the performing arts. Many have careers in business-oriented fields like consulting and banking, while others are entrepreneurs, lawyers, and even veterinarians. We have roboticists from Tesla and Amazon (the company), the founder of a tea company that gives revenue back to indigenous farmers in the Amazon (the jungle), and even a student who has beaten cancer twice!

The Smartly MBA is composed of 42 core courses equivalent to the subjects taught in a traditional MBA degree. Courses are organized into 9 concentrations, including Business Foundations, Accounting, Finance, Data & Decisions, Markets & Economies, Marketing & Pricing, Strategy & Innovation, Leadership & Management, and Supply Chain & Operations Management, with optional electives for further study.

Students who finish the program will receive an MBA licensed through the Washington, DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education. When they graduate, students will be matched with employers around the US, opening up job opportunities that make use of their newly-minted skills. 

We’re passionate about expanding access to impactful education here at Smartly, and we believe that a free, high-quality MBA is an important step in this journey. Thanks to all of our learners who have supported and inspired us in this endeavor. We can’t wait to show you what’s next!

Why I Turned Down a Top Business School

For years, Chris was convinced that gaining an MBA from a top business school would lead to guaranteed success and happiness. In the end, he turned his acceptance down.

 

The following is a guest post from Chris Queen, a Smartly MBA graduate and small animal veterinarian living and working in Dubai. Chris is a massive, self-proclaimed nerd, interested in the power of technology, including virtual and augmented reality, to revolutionize education. When he isn’t caring for pets or writing, he can be found running, swimming and cycling towards his next Ironman race or jumping from a perfectly good plane in the name of skydiving. Chris’ blog can be found at www.thenerdyvet.com and he can be found on Twitter at @thenerdyvet

***

For years, I was convinced that gaining an MBA from a top business school would lead to guaranteed success and happiness.

After all, they take in ambitious, creative, entrepreneurial types and spit out brand new Masters of the Universe at the other end, all guaranteed to progress on to business success, right?! Cue the all too familiar gauntlet of GMAT tests, poring over school brochures and websites, campus visits, ‘meet-and-greets’, and the endless hours of application preparation and submission, each costing on average about $150. In total, I have easily spent in excess of $4,000 simply getting to the stage of hitting the ‘submit’ button on various applications.

I am a small animal veterinarian and I’m at the stage in my career, and life, where I am acutely aware of the question, “Where am I going next?” Not completely enamoured of the usual, predictable and ‘safe’ options, and, to be perfectly honest, somewhat disillusioned with much of my current profession, I looked towards an MBA as being the answer. I have entrepreneurial ambitions, specifically within the tech sector, and so it seemed logical that formal business training, with the plethora of additional advantages that attending a top school offers, was exactly what was called for. I know for a fact that I would find the experience of spending 1-2 years in a major seat of learning and culture with equally ambitious sorts from all corners of the globe a wonderful one indeed. And so it was that my journey to business school began.

Coming from a non-traditional ‘quantitative’ career such as veterinary medicine, I was keen to bolster my familiarity with the core MBA curriculum and came across the Smartly app. Instantly drawn into the simple, immersive, bite-sized, and beautifully presented lessons that had a fun, game-like feel I found myself a dedicated user, powering through all of the available lessons and eagerly awaiting any new material developed by the Pedago team. It was, therefore, an easy decision to put my hand in my pocket and pay for the service* when the full version went live. It was that good!

Fast forward to earlier this year: I finally had that which I had been fixated on for so long: an offer from a top school! So what I did next took a lot of thought…

I turned my acceptance down!

The principle reason for this huge decision was simply the prohibitively inflated cost of studying for an MBA, with my projected expense easily looking to be in the region of $120,000 once the $90,000 of tuition was added to reasonable living expenses. Whilst it is no secret what the cost of an MBA is when students apply, such numbers seem unreal until such time that you are staring at a loan agreement. ROI uncertainty and the realities of staggering debt to pursue my dream aside, I had to really ask myself if there was another way to obtain the same level of top MBA knowledge without bankrupting myself. Smartly once again came onto the scene offering a full MBA degree, with its clear curriculum, simple and intuitive interface and impressive catalogue of ever-expanding content. Oh, and it’s significantly more attractive price tag! With my application submitted I now eagerly await their decision on whether I shall be one of those admitted to their new online MBA.

Sexual harassment in the workplace: A story of silence

Ellen shares her story and hopes it gives you a voice to speak up and incentive to bring in essential sexual harassment training to your working environment.

 

The following is a guest post by Ellen M. Zavian, a sports attorney and professor at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Ellen teaches courses in Sports Law, Entrepreneurship and Leadership and Sports Marketing and has written columns for Conde Nast, Time, USAToday and NFL Insider.

***

There are many factors that can trigger sexual harassment in the workplace that are beyond a company’s control. Nevertheless, it is imperative for companies to create and ensure a safe working environment. Many of those seemingly harmless comments or inappropriate behaviors could be avoided, and victims could be empowered with the right knowledge on how and when to take action.

As the first woman to represent NFL players as an attorney, I received many sexual comments over my career, but I can tell you very little about what I’ve experienced because to name names would not do anyone good, especially me. As an independent contractor, I did not have the luxury of being protected by the many employment laws that protect men and women from such conduct.

When I was working at a law firm, one of the partners clearly crossed the line. Instead of filing, I left the firm.  Another time, when interviewed for a team position, the head coach told me, “It would be too distracting to have you around the office.” I withdrew my name from the pool of candidates. Eluding these situations was probably not the best strategy.

As I matured, my skin got thicker, and my ability to confront comments quickly or diminish them with humor became sharper.  It is this sense of confidence and humor that got me through many other questionable times. For example when i was representing the women softball players and the attorney for the American Softball Association was making fun of the women because they were complaining about having to wear male structured catcher equipment (which left little room for their breasts), I gave him an athletic cup (youth size) and told him to wear it for a day. Needless to say, we won that point and got the women proper fitting equipment (which included a helmet with a hole for their ponytail!).

It is for this reason, I wanted to share my story of silence with you… I hope this gives you a voice to speak up and incentive to bring in essential sexual harassment training to your working environment today. This question remains: how do we communicate this information effectively, achieving a greater goal than that of merely legal compliance? We must first look for tools and mechanisms to effectively transmit information to employees and then optimize understanding and awareness so that everyone in the workplace can feel confident and empowered to speak up and take action in circumstances like mine.

To see corporate training solutions for your company, visit https://smart.ly/corporate-training.