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Steinberg-Dietrich Hall, Wharton School on May 1, 2021. Credit: Diego Cárdenas

Starting in 2023, the Wharton School will allow students to earn an executive MBA virtually. 

The decision to create virtual, flexible education options comes in the wake of decreased enrollment in MBA programs, hesitations about the cost of education, and a competitive job market, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to adopt online education methods, and Wharton as well as several other schools are keeping these systems in place even after returning to in-person models. 

Business schools such as Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business have decided to implement online executive MBA programs — Georgetown's will begin next fall, while Berkeley's started last fall.

Several schools have voiced hesitations about these changes, expressing potential anxieties that offering online options could devalue their MBA programs.

“We did not want to have a discount version of the Wharton MBA,” Brian Bushee, an accounting professor and the senior vice dean of teaching and learning, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

Historically, have also expressed hesitancies that online executive  MBA programs could have a lower value for enrolled students as well — in terms of both valuable in-person class experiences, and the potential for networking opportunities.

These concerns, however, according to Georgetown’s Senior Associate Dean of MBA Programs Prashant Malaviya, neglect the fact that many part-time MBA students are not as interested in these networking programs — and may not be able to make the major life changes required to move near campus.

Correction: A previous version of this article failed to specify that The Wharton School is expanding access specifically to its MBA Program for Executives, which is different from its regular MBA program. The headline and first sentence of this article have been updated to specify that this virtual program is solely for executive MBA students. The DP regrets this error.