I recently had the opportunity to take some executive education classes from both the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, which is the world’s oldest business school and Harvard Business School, which is consistently ranked among the top business schools in the world.
For comparison, I took leadership and management classes from both schools. Generally speaking, this is my take-away:
- The Wharton School relied more on its professors to deliver the training materials, which is great if there is a great professor. One of my favorite professors at The Wharton School was Adam Grant, author of “Give and Take.” He was fantastic. There were a couple other fantastic professors as well. I also like how Wharton coordinates with youracclaim.com to verify your credentials and place a badge on my Linkedin profile.
- Harvard Business School did a fantastic job of video post production. They did a great job of intermixing short videos from professors with real case studies of previous Harvard MBA alums and periodic quizzes and exercises. Throughout the course, Harvard Online encouraged students to interact and comment. I also love how HBS presented a course curriculum calculator that let me see my progress. I loved the most of the case studies, which really gave you an intimate portrait of very successful CEOs and Harvard MBA graduates.
- The Wharton School had a few shortcomings, in my opinion. First, their case studies were VERY outdated. It was obvious that the material was at least 4-5 years old, which made the examples mostly irrelevant. Some of the video lessons were very hard to endure because they went too long and the professors simply lacked charisma good public speaking skills. They also saved all the student comments and interactions for the end of the module, when I was anxious to be done with it. Finally, I didn’t care for the multiple choice exams. They didn’t really test my knowledge or understanding of the course material.
- Harvard Business School also fell short in a couple ways. While I liked how Harvard Online spread out the quizzes throughout the modules, sometimes I felt like they were playing word games with semantics. Some of their case studies were slightly outdated and annoying. Harvard kept coming back to some of these annoying case studies when I would have liked to have just moved on. While Harvard facilitated more student engagement, in hindsight, it was pretty superficial. In the end, it took a few weeks to get my official certification of completion and it was not automated or verified via Linkedin.
The bottom line for me, in my opinion, is that I think I preferred the instructional and educational content from Wharton over that of Harvard. I also much prefer the instant gratification and Linkedin verification of the credentials from Wharton over that of Harvard.
However, I much preferred the online learning management system and presentation of materials from Harvard Business School. And, I thought that most of the case studies from Harvard were superior to that from Wharton.
Both schools provided great materials and insight and I am glad that I participated in both programs. They actually complemented each other well.