In my opinion, a solid business education should be one of those non-negotiables in life.
Whether you're making strategic decisions as a seasoned entrepreneur, building high-performing teams as a mid-level manager, or embarking on the world of business as an undergraduate student: you need to master the basics.
In this review, we're going to be exploring the Wharton Business Foundations Specialization on Coursera, a course that's designed to help you do just that.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more information.
Before we talk about the specialization itself, let's first talk about the institution it's offered by: The University of Pennsylvania, and more specifically, Wharton.
The University of Pennsylvania (commonly referred to as Penn) is a private university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States.
A member of the Ivy League, Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States.
Its business school, Wharton, is the world's oldest collegiate business school and one of the most prestigious business schools in the world.
As you can imagine, if you were attending the school in person, you'd be paying a handsome (or maybe not) fee.
However, through Coursera, you can access instruction from the same award-winning faculty members, for a fraction of the cost.
The Wharton Business Foundations Specialization is a six-part program that teaches you the core business skills you need to develop basic literacy in marketing, finance, accounting, and operations.
This program is 100% online, so there’s no need to show up to a classroom in person. You can access your lectures, readings and assignments anytime and anywhere via the web or your mobile device.
The specialization includes the following courses:
With less than 2 hours of effort invested per week, the specialization is estimated to take less than 7 months to complete.
In addition, rather than having to spend thousands of dollars for a degree, the certificate only costs $79 USD per month, and you only pay for the amount of time it takes you to complete the program.
This flexible pricing approach makes the Wharton Business Specialization incredibly accessible, whether you're learning on a full-time or part-time schedule.
At the end, I'll be sharing my personal thoughts on this program and whether it's worth it or not. But first, here's an overview of what to expect in each of the course modules:
In the first course in the Business Foundations Specialization, you will discover three core topics in customer loyalty: branding, customer centricity, and practical, go-to-market strategies.
The course instructors are:
Learner Reviews of "Introduction to Marketing":
"This course has an excellent set of instructors that really work to build a strong foundation in basic business principles. You will learn about customer centricity, price elasticity, branding and so much more. Exceedingly well put together." - Jesse
"Very interesting subjects, I personally found the week on pricing a bit more mathematically challenging, but it was a good test of my previous economics study in high school! The instructors were very engaging." - Meg G.
Next, you will analyze financial statements and disclosures for use in financial analysis, and learn how accounting standards and managerial incentives affect the financial reporting process.
The course instructor is Brian J Bushee, The Geoffrey T. Boisi Professor.
Learner Reviews of "Introduction to Financial Accounting":
"An extremely fun and reasonably challenging course for someone with no financial or accounting background at all! Great course to start building financial literacy. You won't understand and remember everything, but it takes review to truly learn anything! Love Professor Bushee!" - Judy W.
"Professor keeps things light and entertaining which helps me focus and enjoy the otherwise tough and boring material." - Jonathan O.
Although managing people well is critical to the health of any organization, most managers don't get the training they need to make good management decisions.
In this course, you'll learn how to manage people by designing jobs and rewards systems that motivate individual performance.
The course instructors are:
Learner reviews of "Managing Social and Human Capital":
"Both Mike & Peter did a wonderful job communicating complex ideas with anecdotes and examples. Thank you guys!" - Himanya B.
"Excellent course. It really got me thinking about incentive structures and organizational architectures and their impact on performance." - Julien O.
In course four, you'll deep dive into the fundamentals of finance, exploring a wide variety of real-world situations pertaining to personal finance, corporate decision-making, and financial intermediation.
The course instructor is Michael R Roberts, William H. Lawrence Professor of Finance.
Learner reviews of the "Introduction to Corporate Finance":
"Course material is good, some parts missing between week 2 and week 3. Almost all the quizzes have a question or two with incorrect options so that may be frustrating as the staff hasn't addressed these issues yet." - Ishan D.
"Professor is great in explaining key concepts but it seems this course was just thrown together from a previously made course. There is a mention of practice problems which don't exist and there were a couple of issues with problems on the quizzes where the correct answer seemed to not be available." - Mitch H.
Next you'll learn to analyze and improve business processes in services and manufacturing by learning how to increase productivity and deliver higher quality standards.
The course instructor is Christian Terwiesch, Andrew M. Heller Professor.
Learner reviews of "Introduction to Operations Management":
"The content of this course was quite useful and well taught, however the format of the exams were very poor. As a course that was suggested to be 4 hours/week of time allocated, it has taken several-fold more time than this to complete due to the format of the exams requiring an open answer, rather than multiple choice like the other modules in this course." - Michael C.
"I enjoyed this course. The homework and quizzes were slightly challenging which was a good thing." - Sonam S.
In the final course in this specialization, you'll complete a capstone project which will require you to develop a go-to-market strategy to address a real business challenge.
The Capstone Project involves the following five steps:
Learner Reviews of the Capstone Project:
"Great course! It was very helpful to use the capstone project to review what I learnt again and apply some basic knowledge." - Ergun H.
"I enjoyed working on this project. It allowed me to think critically about the problem and each and every aspect of the technical solution for it. Courses that preceded it and case studies provided in this course, really helped a lot while working on my own project. Please give it enough time and work sincerely on this project." - Mayank A.
In conclusion, I think the Wharton Business Foundations Specialization is worth enrolling in if you have no business experience whatsoever, or if it is your dream to learn from the Wharton Faculty.
This is because the course material is quite introductory, covering concepts you might already be familiar with if you have ever taken a business class before. Unless you just want a refresher!
Here are some course statistics to keep in mind:
Overall the Wharton Business Foundations specialization has achieved a rating of 4.7 out of 5 on Coursera.
In addition, 41% of learners say that they started a new career after completing this specialization and 15% said they received a pay increase or promotion.
The only main area of concern I noticed is that there were some complaints in the "Introduction to Corporate Finance" section, due to some glaring errors in the quizzes.
However, If you can self-study and confirm the right answers for yourself in these quizzes, you should be able to get over this hurdle.
At the end of the day, we're all imperfect, so even a class by Wharton is going to have some mistakes here and there.
If you are self-motivated and can put in the work, this class will help you lay a strong foundation in business, which you can then build upon through further learning and real-world experience.
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