For each course in my homemade MBA curriculum, I will provide before-and-after commentary – think of it as a Coursera course review.  The before section will cover my expectations going into the course and any specific reasons I chose to take it.  The after section will be a reflection of what I thought of the course (format, material, professor, workload, etc.), what I learned vs. what I expected to learn, and whether or not I would recommend it to others (and why).  I hope this Coursera course-review format is useful for the rest of you out there who are making your own homemade MBAs using Coursera.


Homemade MBA Coursera course:  Introduction to Marketing

Marketing 5

  • Parent University:  University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business
  • Description: Part of the Wharton MBA Foundation Series, this course is part of the Wharton MBA foundation series in the MOOC format. It is taught by three of Wharton’s top faculty in the marketing department, which is consistently ranked as the #1 marketing department in the world. This course features on-location videos and debates between the three professors. The three core topics focus on customer loyalty. The first is about branding: given a very disparate world in which new startups are emerging constantly, brand equity is one of the key elements of keeping customers so that they have a trusted source for their needs. The second topic is customer centricity, which is taught in a global context where students learn how to gather needs and focus on the customer via discussion forums and empirical examples which are advanced by the mix of cultures in the course. Finally, the course explores practical, go-to-market strategies to help students understand the drivers that influence customers and see how these are implemented prior to making an investment.


Chosen to replicate the HBS MBA course: Marketing

  • Description:  The objectives of this course are to demonstrate the role of marketing in the company; to explore the relationship of marketing to other functions; and to show how effective marketing builds on a thorough understanding of buyer behavior to create value for customers.



Expectations going in:

  • I work in Marketing, so I have pretty high expectations for this course.  I expect some sort of definition and description of the major elements of marketing including market analysis as well as promotion.  As Wharton is a top tier business school (which claims to be ranked #1 for Marketing in the course description itself), I expect the professors to be subject matter experts, and that the course material will be on the cutting edge of marketing knowledge.  Side note: I always thought the “best” business school for Marketing was Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, but I guess rankings are always up for debate.

Specific reasons I chose this course:

  • The main reasons I chose this course were: to complete the Wharton MBA Foundation Series of business/MBA classes, to learn the academic theories of marketing (and to see how they compare to the real-world), and because Marketing is such a fundamental component of an MBA that and self taught MBA would be remiss without it.



My thoughts of the course:

  • Format – good
    • This class had a mix of traditional and modern structural elements.  The core of the class was traditional video-lectures and quizzes, with a comprehensive final exam at the end.  However, the modern twist of the course was that it was divided into three main units: Branding, Customer Centricity, and Go to Market Strategies.  Each of these units was presented by a different professor – each the subject matter expert for the topic (Barbara Kahn for Branding, Peter Fader for Customer Centricity, and David Bell for Go to Market Strategies). This structure was similar to the University of Geneva’s course on International Organizations Management, however this class was presented in a much better way.  To summarize, each professor had three weeks of content in this class (compared to just one in the University of Geneva course).  This gave each professor sufficient time to cover their material in depth without being rushed.  Following each three-week session, there was a 20-question quiz that covered each subject area.  The final was 40 multiple-choice questions.  The format worked very well, and I found it effective and enjoyable.
Wharton Marketing Professors from left to right: Peter Fader, David Bell, and Barbara Kahn

Wharton Marketing Professors from left to right: Peter Fader, David Bell, and Barbara Kahn

  • Material – top notch, cutting edge
    • The video lectures for this class were superb.  As I mentioned before, I’m really surprised by how much variation there is among the Wharton MBA Foundation Series of MBA classes.  I have now completed all four MBA Foundation Series classes (Accounting, Finance, Operations Management, and now Marketing), and they range from a simple web-cam in a professor’s office to professionally edited and produced video-lectures in front of a green screen or on location in a relevant venue.  This class was the latter of the two, with very concise, professional videos that were all very high quality.
Intro to Marketing - great video lectures

Intro to Marketing – great video lectures

    • One minor complaint about the final exam:  there seemed to be quite a few questions on the final exam that were not covered by the video lectures or by the reading material provided.  While it didn’t prevent me from scoring well enough to pass the class, it did frustrate me.  What’s the point of watching all the lectures and reviewing all the material if there are going to be questions on the exams that weren’t discussed in the material provided?  For those of you reading this who also took this class, did you notice this as well?  (I’m hoping it wasn’t just me!)
  • Professor – multiple professors, all great
    • As you would expect from a prestigious institution like Wharton and the University of Pennsylvania, these professors were outstanding.  Barbara Kahn, Peter Fader, and David Bell were all very good lecturers who provided useful and timely examples and stories to demonstrate, explain, and reinforce the concepts they discussed.  All of the professors provided their lecture notes as .pdfs we could download, and provided supplemental reading suggestions for each unit they taught.  These were some of the best professors I have come across yet in my homemade MBA project.
  • Workload – medium/light
    • The workload for Intro to Marketing was as advertised in the course overview materials – about five to six hours per week.  Most of this time was spent watching the video lectures, with some of it spent reviewing the recommended/supplemental reading materials.  There was a 20-question quiz at the end of each three-week unit, which took about 30 minutes to complete.  All-in-all, this was a pretty easy class to complete as long as you kept on schedule.
  • Other
    • One pleasant surprise in this class was a guest-speaker who joined for a few video lectures.  Professors Kahn, Fader, and Bell hosted a question-and-answer session with a former Wharton MBA student (and current successful entrepreneur) to discuss some of the real-world applications of the theories and concepts the professors taught in the class.  This was a great insight into how some tools and techniques work in some places and situations but not in others, and provided some great examples of where the rubber meets the road in the Marketing world.  It would be great if other courses did something like this as well.


What I learned vs. what I expected to learn

As I mentioned previously, I work in Marketing so I had high expectations of this class.  I’m pleased to say that Introduction to Marketing delivered on my expectations of learning about market analysis and promotion.  In addition, I was very pleased with the emphasis on Customer Centricity.  I think Professor Fader is on to something here, and the macro shift from a product-centric to a customer-centric business philosophy (and culture) is upon us.  I look forward to keeping abreast of the latest developments in this area of Marketing, and I am grateful for being exposed to the concept through this class.


Would I recommend Wharton’s Introduction to Marketing to others?

  • Yes

Why/Why not

  • I don’t think you could ask for more in an Introduction to Marketing class.  I was very impressed with all aspects of this course, and can say with the confidence of a real-life practitioner of Marketing that this is a fantastic introduction to the subject.



As a reminder, each course of my homemade MBA curriculum replicates a course from Harvard Business School’s first-year Required Curriculum (as noted here in my post explaining how I made my homemade MBA curriculum).

Statement of Accomplishment - Wharton's Introduction to Marketing

Statement of Accomplishment – Wharton’s Introduction to Marketing

If you have any thoughts or questions about this course or my review of it, please let me know in the comments section below.


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    • invinci on April 20, 2014 at 6:04 pm
    • Reply

    Hey Homemade MBA 🙂

    Thanks a lot for this review. I was looking for a detailed review about this esteemed Coursera course and your review hit the home run for me. I was just going through the Coursera website and U Penn site but could not get anything in details until google opened this treasure for me.
    This is an amazingly detailed review but I still have a few questions owing to mine and your [yes your] background. So allow me to introduce myself.

    I am a mid 20s guy originally from Asia currently working for an OEM in US. I did my Masters in US and Bachelors back home. Both degrees are technical.
    Right from the first month of my job at the OEM, I got attracted towards Marketing. Tracing the roots for this passion gets me to my company making and selling cars, and I needed to know why do we sell a particular car for a particular price and what features are highlighted to the consumer so that I can keep fueling my car passion. Now 2 and half years down the line with my company this passion has turned into a crazy obsession for Marketing and the only solution for this was to think of an MBA or get into Marketing.

    I am already starting GMAT study and was looking for this course. My questions are as follows :

    The course title says Introduction to Marketing. You are a sales and Marketing guy which btw I need to find out how you landed there after Tech degrees..:-) would love to switch jobs for sometime. So is this course really introduction. I am a complete beginner in Marketing and wanted to take this course if it will introduce me to Marketing in a passionately desired way.

    Being a beginner in Marketing, how much time do you think it will take to go through the course per week. The reason I am asking is coz I am already tight on time due to GMAT and work but giving up this course is giving me nightmares.

    Lastly, any idea when does this course come back after this session. I could not find it anywhere.

    Apologize for such a long comment [it cant be classified as a comment any longer..:-)]. But your review did get me very excited.
    Looking forward to a reply. Keep up the good work mate.

    • Lisa on September 14, 2014 at 10:37 pm
    • Reply

    Hi homemade MBA,
    I was looking for some information about this courser class I’m going to take next month and I found you…great idea, I also would like to do something similar, I just need more information. I would like to read some texts before starting this new adventure…could you suggest me something?I don’t know anything about marketing, I studied modern languages and literatures but I have always wanted to get an MBA in marketing…It could definitely help me to get a better payed job…-:)
    I’m looking forward to receiving your response and thank you in advance forgot helpful advice!

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Thanks for your comment. I would highly encourage you to make you own MBA like I did, and focusing on Marketing shouldn’t be a problem as there are plenty of Marketing-focused MOOCS out there.

      Regarding recommended texts, I suggest enrolling in a few Marketing courses on Coursera. Each course typically has supplemental readings, and sometimes even includes full access to the textbook(s) used for the course at its parent university. If they don’t use actual textbooks, the courses will probably include a suggested reading list. Between the supplemental and suggested readings, you should have a good starting point for you marketing material reading quest.

      I hope that helps, and please keep me posted with your progress. Best of luck with your studies!

    • Lisa on September 15, 2014 at 5:53 pm
    • Reply

    Hi homemade MBA,
    Thank you for response. I will definitely start with this introduction to marketing class and if it suits me I’ll take more classes…I will be reading your posts and updates…it was very helpful thank you!

    • Lisa on September 22, 2014 at 8:28 am
    • Reply

    Hi Hommade MBA,

    could you suggest me any articles or readings before starting my Introduction to Marketing-class? I have no basic knowledge, so I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep up with the classes. I would like to prepare my self, by reading some abstracts.
    Thank you in advance for your helpful advice.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      One of the great things about most MOOCs is that they are, more or less, self-paced. You don’t really need to be concerned with falling behind (even as a Marketing noobie) because you can pause, rewind, or simply re-watch entire video lectures. As long as you have enough time to dedicate the course each week you’ll be alright. Also, I’m pretty sure the reading lists are published a week in advance for the Wharton Marketing class (at least they were when I took it, but that may change this time). This way you can review the material at your own convenience. In other words, I think you will find the pace of the course very comfortable and customizable – one of the huge advantages of MOOCs!


    • brian on January 14, 2016 at 9:23 pm
    • Reply

    Hello Homemade MBA,
    Excellent work on your Homemade MBA, I think it is great. I am about to start on that journey myself with the Wharton Introduction to Marketing course. My question is did you take the $95 per course, the $595 option or the free option and do you know if the certificates are different based on the price that you pay. Do you get the statements of accomplishment with the free version or is there a certificate of completion as well? I am looking forward to starting the Intro to Marketing class later this month. Thank you.

    All the Best,

    1. Hi Brian, thanks for your comment. To summarize, all the courses on my Homemade MBA were free. When I took these courses, including the Wharton ones, they were all offered for free by Coursera. I had to meet certain requirements (usually a 70% grade or better) to receive the statements of accomplishment – but there was no fee at the time I completed them. If you still can, I’d go with the free versions of these courses. It’s all the same content, and I haven’t found the the certificates to be all that useful – it’s all about the knowledge.

      I hope that helps, and best of luck with your Homemade MBA/Marketing plan. Let us know how it goes and what you think of the courses!

    • brian on February 18, 2016 at 3:36 pm
    • Reply

    Hello HomemadMBA – It does not look like Coursera is giving the Statements of Accomplishment any longer. I did take the entire Intro to Marketing course from Wharton for free but there was no option to get or see the statement of accomplishment. Since I did pass all of the tests and final I went with purchasing the certificate just because it looks impressive to have something from Wharton on my desk and Linkdin. I also completed another course Intro to International Marketing from Yonsei University and I could see the weekly test questions and final quiz but I was unable to submit the quizes without purchasing the individual courses or specialization, which I have to say looks very interesting. The 6 course specialization from Yonsei is brand new and focuses on International Marketing and Cross Industry Growth. I have to wait for the other classes to start before I can view the material on the new few months but the first class I took was excellent. Thank you for the recommendation on the Introduction to Marketing class from Wharton, it was awesome and the professors are outstanding, I wish there was more classes from Wharton and Coursera taught by these professors. I just started another marketing related course from Northwestern University called Leadership through Marketing, the material looks good but I am unable to submit the assignments until I pay the class fee so I may just review the class each week as the material is unlocked. Thanks again.

    1. Hey Brian – good to hear from you again. I’m glad that you got to take Wharton’s Marketing class. I couldn’t agree more – it’s a fantastic course! I’m disappointed to hear that Coursera is no longer offering Statements of Accomplishment for free. I guess they have to make money somehow, but it’s really too bad that the free options seem to be disappearing…

      I’m not as familiar with Yonsei University, but after a quick skim of their Wikipedia page it seems pretty impressive. That’s great that you can get a specialization through their courses.

      Thanks again for the update, and best of luck with your Marketing courses – you’re building quite the CV!

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