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Online Education Program HBX Rebrands as ‘Harvard Business School Online’

Harvard Business School.
Harvard Business School. By Jason K. Thong
By Lucy Liu and Sam E. Sharfstein, Crimson Staff Writers

Harvard Business School announced Tuesday it had renamed its online education program in an effort to attract more students to its web-based offerings. The initiative, formerly known as HBX, will now be called Harvard Business School Online.

The name change, which has been in development for almost a year, is meant to more clearly link Harvard Business School to its online counterpart, according to Patrick J. Mullane, the program’s executive director. He said the change will help more people find the programming, which has already seen about 40,000 people complete a course since its inception in 2014.

“It wasn’t really clear to a lot of people when we had the name HBX that we were necessarily directly affiliated with the Harvard Business School,” Mullane said. “The leadership in the school agreed that this is something that we should be proud of and put our name on.”

Mullane said former students who enjoyed their online Business School experience told the school that they had some initial confusion as to whether HBX was directly tied to the Business School.

“We did get feedback from studies we did of participants about how they found it, what they knew about us, and got indications that it wasn’t very clear exactly who we were,” Mullane said. “And certainly when they found out and experienced the courses, they loved it.”

When deciding whether and how to rebrand, however, Mullane said administrators kept the decision “close to the vest” because they wanted to make sure adding Harvard’s name explicitly into the title was the best course of action, and not just an effort to satisfy participants’ desire to tie the school’s name to the program.

The rebranding is in line with the school’s mission to “educate leaders who make a difference in the world” by helping the Business School reach more students online, according to Mullane.

“There’s implicit in the mission that obviously you would like to reach more people, because if you reach more people, you are spreading the values you hope to embody and the mission more broadly,” he said.

Of the 40,000 people who have taken a course through the program so far, roughly half of those participants took the platform’s main offering, a three-course package called the Credential of Readiness, or CORe, program, according to Mullane. CORe’s standard version spans 10 to 12 weeks and currently costs $2,250.

Mullane said he believes there’s room to expand online higher education opportunities across the board, not only within the Business School.

“The future is more programs across all schools, not just Harvard here, because there is going to be increased confidence among employers and other people and potential participants and students, that there is real value in online education,” he said.

—Staff writer Lucy Liu can be reached at

—Staff writer Sam E. Sharfstein can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @SamSharfstein.

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