Best Online Courses to do Before MBA

You’ve finally decided to do an MBA or a PGDM program, the question now arises is how to prepare well for it? I mean to say that how you can successfully handle all your MBA hustles beforehand. MBA comes up with a lot of challenges in the face of assignments, group discussions, case studies, presentations, and more. Every MBA student, be in Finance, Marketing, or Operations or any other specialization should have basic soft skills as well as hard skills. Soft skills include communication skills, effective team-building skills, active listening skills, persuasion ability, and most importantly the ability to withstand pressure because you’ve to face it in each critical step during your studies.

Hard skills include analytical skills, project management skills, writing skills, and other technical skills such as MS Excel and PowerPoint.

How can you build those skills before pursuing an MBA? There are many ways if you’re determined to learn. You can take up internships, do volunteering at some NGOs and events, do freelancing at Fiverr and Upwork for hands-on experience, and the most popular, as well as the easiest option available today, is to enroll in online courses or MOOCs. Sounds interesting! 

Yes, there are both free and paid courses available online which can give you not 100% but up to some extent the required skills you need for your MBA journey. First, we’ll look at some courses that every MBA aspirant can take irrespective of their specialization and then the courses suitable to those in specific specialization or fields like Marketing, Finance, Operations, and HR

Courses for all Specializations

As an MBA student, you’ve to work in groups or teams for assignment works and small projects. And at times you have to get things done from others. For this, you need to develop the following useful skills:

  • Leadership
  • Communication and Motivation
  • Decision-Making
  • Team Building
  • Presentation

Working in Teams: A Practical Guide (edX)

This course is suitable for all disciplines. With this one course, you’ll learn teamwork, leadership, communication, and conflict resolution techniques in only four weeks! 

This course gives a brief about how to become a better leader, how to distribute work amongst the team members, and how to manage a team during a conflict and many such other topics. Overall it is a well-crafted and very useful certification. This course is provided by The University of Queensland, Australia and you can audit this for free.

In addition to great communication and listening skills, you should have great writing skills also. You’ll deal with many written assignments, case studies, essays, and research work for which you’ve to analyze, describe, and deduce certain arguments. The course below is ideal for you. 

Academic English: Writing Specialization (Coursera)

The primary focus of this Specialization course on English Writing is to help you write an effective research paper for your college project and you do it by completing a capstone project in the end. But before this, you’ll go through four different short courses in which you’ll learn basic English grammar, essay writing, advanced writing skills, and planning a research paper.

This specialization needs approximately 6 months to complete by giving an effort of only 4 hours/week. With more than 200,000+ students enrolled and a splendid rating of 4.7, this course is perfect for you.

Next, come technical skills like MS Office and Presentations. You’ll be going to interact with spreadsheets, making word documents and presentations in PowerPoint for all your assignments and other project works. So, advanced preparation on this will definitely help you by saving your time and efforts.

Go and start your free month on LinkedIn Learning. It has over 16,000+ free and paid courses for all your basic technical skill requirements such as Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and much more.

Believe it or not, a subscription to LinkedIn Learning will be a huge advantage for your career. It’ll give you complete flexibility so that you can learn at your own pace while monitoring your performance. All the courses are designed in a way to give you hands-on training for career success.

Now, you know the sources to sharpen your basic hard and soft skills. Let’s discuss the courses helpful for students in a given specialization. We’ll start with Marketing.

Courses for Marketing Specialization

If you’ve chosen marketing as a specialization for your MBA program then these online courses are a must for you. For marketing students, subjects like consumer behavior, brand management, marketing analytics, strategic marketing, and digital marketing are important.

You’ll be going to learn all these subjects in your two or three-year MBA program but besides this, what else you can do so that these subjects do not seem a burden for you. Answer- experience it now! The courses mentioned below are ideal for all marketing specialization students.

Marketing Analytics (Coursera)

You’ll dive into the world of analytics and sales figures but don’t be afraid, the course instructor Rajkumar Venkatesan is with you making learning easy and enjoyable. He explained each and every topic in the easiest manner possible with the help of interesting examples and case studies. You’ll learn the practical applications of marketing analytics in the real world.  

After completing each module, you can test yourself by taking on quizzes and revise the topics in which you need improvement. The activities and assignments will make you concept-wise clear. There are also some interviews and talks with eminent marketing experts and professionals sharing their experiences of how they use data and analytics in their organizations.

Some of the key learnings from this course are as follows:

  • Developing Brand Architecture
  • Measuring Brand Value
  • Brand Equity
  • Regression Analysis
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
  • Conducting Cause and effect through experiments
  • Airbnb’s Marketing Strategy

Digital Marketing 

Besides traditional marketing, today most colleges continuously add digital marketing subjects into their syllabus. Topics such as Google Analytics, SEO, Content Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and Web Development have become highly popular. Moreover, the firm grasp over such topics will also help you during your MBA internships and live projects.

So, what are the courses available online to learn all these topics and skills? The moment you type this query on google searching for “Best digital marketing courses online”, you’ll be bombarded with plenty of options to choose from. And choosing the one which is suitable for you and yet affordable is a daunting task. Check out this article on 08 Best Free and Paid Digital Marketing Courses Online (2020) You’ll get a glimpse of the best online courses on digital marketing and enroll in anyone which fits you.

After completing a digital marketing course online, It is good and advisable to freelance and sharpens your skills through platforms like Fiver or Upwork. If possible join a digital marketing internship. It’ll provide you hands-on working experience and you can learn more with practice.

Courses for Finance Specialization

Finance is one of the most popular and interesting subjects among students because the average salary of a finance manager is $112,000 per year according to monster.com. The number of students opting for finance as their specialization in higher studies like MBA or MS is growing rapidly. More the number of students more will be a competition for you. The core subjects taught in finance specialization are Quantitative Methods, Corporate Investment Management, International Finance, Banking, Macroeconomics, and Financial modeling. Also, with the constant rise in technology and digital devices, most colleges include disciplines like FinTech or Financial Technology into their curriculum. In general terms, FinTech is defined as the use of technology while conducting financial transactions. 

So, there are too many challenges and opportunities ahead of you before an MBA in Finance. It is not at all smooth sailing but you can make it by learning in advance. 

Corporate Finance Essentials (Coursera)

This course on Corporate Finance Essentials from IESE Business School explains some key financial issues related to capital markets such as risk and return, project evaluation, the cost of capital, and corporate value creation. This course helps you put on a new lens to view the financial health of investments and company projects.

The course is divided into eight weeks. In the first and second weeks, you’ll learn things focusing on investors about how to calculate risk & return especially the mean annual return and what is the correlation & diversification with the risk & return itself.

In the third and fourth weeks, this course will focus on corporations. Here you’ll learn about the cost of capital (WACC) which consists of the cost of debt and the cost of equity. Besides, you’ll also learn how to calculate the cost of equity using the CAPM method.

And at last, you’ll learn how to evaluate projects using NPV (Net Present Value) & IRR (Internal Rate of Return) and also how to determine a corporation’s value using EVA (Economic Value Added).

Key takeaways:

  • An interesting course allows you to broaden your knowledge and in preparation for your upcoming year of studies.
  • Very Technical but Interactive course
  • Using historical trends, business concepts, and practical illustrations, it delivers a lot in terms of sharpening the fundamentals and providing great insights.
  • The quizzes ensured that the topics covered in the course content are clearly understood.
  • Helps in building a strong fundamental for understanding the nuances of Corporate Finance.
  • The pedagogy is quite intuitive & each concept is explained with easy-to-understand examples & practice questions.

Introduction to Finance, Accounting, Modeling and Valuation (Udemy)

Whenever it comes to Finance the basics revolves around three financial statements i.e Balance Sheet, Income Statement, and Cash Flow Statement. This course not only equips you to analyze these 3 things on a granular basis but also how to make financial modeling or forecast of any company based upon past data. Other than this the last but most important part is the valuation. This is a great course that offers insights on accounting and finance and provides a step-by-step guide on financial modeling and company valuation.

Key takeaways:

  • Learn a ton of techniques on how to build a financial model for a company, valuation metrics, etc.
  • Know what are the Relative Valuation Principles, How to read the Financial Statement of the Company, How to decipher from Comp. Annual Report and Basics about Modelling and many more.
  • Chris Haroun who proved to be an amazing instructor explained it in the most simplistic yet in an interesting way.
  • By watching four and a half hours of lectures explaining concepts and notions in detail and by taking on exercises and quizzes provided, you can develop your skills in real-life case studies and broaden your knowledge.

Enjoyed refreshing and widening my understanding of financial statements, modeling and valuation through Udemy and Chris Haroun’s exceptional ability to make learning enjoyable.

Kristian Landmark, Nordic Ecommerce Operations Specialist at Elkjop Nordic

So, these are the two courses that are highly recommended for every finance student. Moreover, check out this article on “9 Best Free and Paid Finance Courses to Enroll Today”

Courses for Operations Specialization

An MBA in Operations Management is also a good choice for a better career and job opportunities. One of the benefits of this specialization is that being an operation manager you can work in any industry such as retail, finance, consumer goods, manufacturing, HR, and also in hospitality. Excited about it? But, the subjects taught in operation management are more technical and scientific in nature. You should have a piece of strong foundational knowledge of it.

The major subjects in an MBA in Operations Management are Project Management, Supply Chain Management, Managerial Economics, Six Sigma, IT & Systems Management, and International Logistics. The preparation kit for this is as follows:

Operations Management: Strategy and Quality Management for the Digital Age (Coursera)

The course “Operations Management: Strategy and Quality Management for the Digital Age” by the University of Illinois provides a very interesting and insightful learning experience. Covering all concepts of Operations and hands-on experience with real-life examples, the course is a must recommendation for anyone wishing to get in-depth knowledge on Strategy, Quality for the Digital Age and Analysis, Improvement Methods into the Organisation.

This course included the following concepts:

  • Changes occurred in the Operations Strategy during the fourth industrial revolution.
  • Service Operations and evaluating service quality using the SERVQUAL model.
  • Statistical Process Control charts for discrete and continuous data.
  • Changes in manufacturing and service operations and supply chain management due to Industry 4.0 and various disruptive technologies.
  • Impact of Digitization on the production and service industry.

It takes approximately 18 hours to complete this course. You can access this course by subscribing to a 7-day free trial period on Coursera. Also, you can avail of financial aid, Coursera is willing to provide any assistance to students for all their learning needs.

Six Sigma

Six Sigma covers a sizable portion of operations management. The Six Sigma process is a universally applicable body of tools and methodologies concentrated on improving productivity, reducing waste, and eliminating faults through a data-driven process relevant to any business or organization. As an operations major, there’s no doubt that these tools will provide you the proper guidance, structure, and knowledge to conquer your future projects, internships, and endeavors with confidence.

Become a Six Sigma Yellow Belt by Linkedin Learning is a worthy course for new starters who don’t have enough knowledge on the subject. The concepts included in this learning path are Operational Excellence, Project Management, Lean Six Sigma, Statistics, and more. LinkedIn Instructors are brilliant, as always they give you so much information to help you along the way.

For more courses on operations management or supply chain management, check out this article- 6 Best Free and Paid Logistics and Supply Chain Management Courses Online

Courses for HR Specialization

People Analytics

People analytics is the assimilation and analysis of employee data within a company to solve business problems. There is so much that can be solved from this technique which removes the human bias. Some of the applications are predicting the success of job applicants and employees, developing diagnostic methods for hiring, identifying the most valuable employees (think network analysis), data-driven performance evaluation, identifying levers that drive retention, etc.

Key learnings:

  • Understand the role of data and technology in human capital management.
  • Manage people at work with sophisticated methods and strategies of data gathering and analysis.
  • Identify the right channels to recruit employees.
  • How to measure the engagement and make a strong organizational culture that improves performance.
  • Make decisions about employees based on deep data analysis rather than classic methods, instinct, and intuition.

In addition to this course, you can also check this Specialization course, Human Resource Management: HR for People Managers by the University of Minnesota. This Specialization consists of 5 courses all offered by the University. They are:

  • Preparing to Manage Human Resources
  • Recruiting, Hiring, and On-Boarding Employees
  • Managing Employee Performance
  • Managing Employee Compensation
  • Human Resources Management Capstone: HR for People Managers.

Each course is well detailed with peer-graded assignments and practical examples. If you need something comprehensive on HR, it is STRONGLY recommended.

So, we’ve talked about lot of online courses or MOOCs that you can do before MBA. These are not the only options available to you, you can search for more according to your preference but in general the courses mentioned above are suitable for all MBA aspirants.