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I recently applied to a school called Quantic School of Business and Technology, fomerly Smart.ly Institute. Quantic is an accredited, “mobile-first”, MBA and Executive MBA (EMBA) school that is very selective and uses an active-learning platform to help students retain information with minimal note-taking.
Quantic is selective: they take only 7% of applicants, but through an innovative funding model they are able to deliver their MBA for free to students and their EMBA for much less than a traditional program.
The question on everybody’s mind when evaluating a school is, what accreditation does it have? Quantic is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), formerly the DETC. This is a recognized accreditor by CHEA (the Council on Higher Education Accreditation).
Brick-and-mortar schools tend to have regional accreditation (RA), named because the accreditors have split the country up by geographic area. Several schools like American Public University System (APUS) and University of the People (UofP) started by achieving national accreditation (which isn’t as specific on non-academic requirements like library size that are hard for online schools to meet.) APUS has now achieved RA, and UofP is in the candidacy process.
So, Quantic is fully accredited and you can use those degrees for academic, employment or immigration purposes – but note that RA schools will not necessarily accept your NA credits for higher education. This is determined on a school-by-school basis.
The application process didn’t take too long. It’s separated into 8 sections:
- Program (MBA or EMBA, see below)
- Personal Info (name, address, date of birth etc.)
- Education (highest degree achieved, other education, unofficial transcripts – for now, official transcripts are taken after you’re accepted)
- Work History and Other Experience (pretty self-explanatory!)
- Personal Summary (fun fact, peer references, Department of Education demographics)
- Resume and Links (you can upload a resume, link to a blog or other social media networks)
- Network (what are you looking to get out of your program? what are your interests?)
- MBA Essay Questions (what makes you want to pursue an MBA? How do you plan to use the skills you’ve gained?, etc.)
Once I finished the application process, I was invited to complete the Business Foundations course (see below.)
MBA vs EMBA
Quantic offers two programs. The Master of Business Administration (MBA) provides a basic foundation in business topics like Mrketing, Finance, Supply Chain and Operations, Leadership and Entrepreneurship. This program is designed for people with less than 5 years of education.
The Executive MBA is similar, but because it’s designed for people who have 5+ years of experience (and often 10-15 years) it has a more high-level focus on strategy and organizational leadership rather than foundational business skills.
The MBA is delivered for free, while the EMBA is much cheaper than traditional EMBA programs ($9,900 at its most expensive but virtually everyone qualifies for a scholarship of some amount, often 30%-80% to defray the cost.)
Business Foundation Courses
After completing the application, I was invited to complete the Business Foundation courses. These are a set of modules that make up the first curriculum.
This set of modules cover 6 topics:
- Customer Discovery
- Finance: Time Value of Money
- Marketing Fundamentals
- Microeconomics I: Supply and Demand
- Accounting I: Fundamentals
- One-Variable Statistics
Each module is made up of chapters, and those chapters are made up of lessons. Quantic uses a model it calls “active learning” to ensure that you retain as much of the material as possible, with minimal need to take notes.
Because most of the Quantic active learning content can be completed on your phone, Quantic has been called the first “mobile-first” MBA program.
This first set of modules can be completed in about 8 hours, while the remaining 9 courses that make up the MBA require 10-15 hours per week for about 10 months. There are group projects and two proctored exams (a midterm and a final) that make up the bulk of the grade. There are also SMARTCASES which are like quizzes done inside the app.
Here are some of the concentrations in the MBA program:
The courses in the Business Foundations concentration are unlocked for me, while many of the other courses are locked. Once admitted to the MBA or EMBA program, you have access to a wide-range of courses both required for your program and electives.
Next I click on Customer Discovery and I see the lessons included in that module/course. Because I’ve already completed this module, I can see both the lessons and the Key Terms that are included in that course for reference.
When I open a lesson, in this case, Lesson 3 on the Business Model Canvas, I’m presented with reading material. The underline means that I can click that like a footnote and see additional context or links to other resources on this subject:
As you proceed through the lessons, you’ll be asked to make selections:
And then after you’ve made your selection, you see the answer and other information:
And later on do calculations as well. I did find I needed a calculator for some of the microeconomics and Time Value of Money lessons, but if I had a piece of paper and a pencil I could do quick-and-dirty calculations in order to get to the right answer.
The Business Foundations courses really helped validate the usefulness of the active learning model. I took no notes during my time completing these modules, but when I returned to Marketing Fundamentals after a couple of days I found I had not forgotten the content. It really does keep you engaged!
After completing a course, you also have access to a PDF summary of that course:
Quantic MBA Interview
After applying but before I had finished the courses I was invited to an interview. This was about 15 minutes long, and they shared with me the interview guide available on the Quantic website to help me prepare.
I was impressed – they had looked me up and were very familiar with my resume. I thought it might have been a formality at first but I can see they really do take it seriously. It was a pleasant experience and another point in Quantic’s favor.
The questions were very standard: why Quantic, why the MBA, what do you see yourself doing with the degree, what feedback do you have on the Business Foundation courses?
After Your Interview
After the interview, I was given detail on some of Quantic’s additional courses. Beyond the Business Foundation courses they actually provide other courses to the public, like Cultural Intelligence, Blue Ocean Strategy and Getting Yourself Hired:
Quantic’s Business Model
I mentioned earlier that Quantic has an innovative funding model that allows it to offer the MBA program free to carefully selected students. They have built a hiring agency called Smart.ly Talent to allow employers to recruit Quantic MBA grads. By having employers subsidize the cost of the education by paying to list jobs on the Quantic job board in order to recruit their grads, they shift the burden of that education onto the employers who get value from Quantic graduates.
Pretty cool! Quantic also has an extensive alumni network, that can help students with their post-graduation job search:
Quantic has several intakes a year. The cohort I’ve applied to closes December 6, 2020 and the application decisions are announced in January. Whether or not I get in, I’ve really enjoyed learning more about Quantic, active learning and their mobile-first MBA.
Update: I was accepted!
I was accepted to Quantic’s MBA. Pretty cool. I’m looking forward to it. Classes start January 18.