Founded in 2015 by bestselling author and entrepreneur Seth Godin, the altMBA is an intensive online workshop designed to help leaders level up. It challenges people to learn to see differently, to make better decisions and to engage and connect.
The altMBA uses digital tools like Slack, Discourse and Zoom to engage a group of students in an intense four-week process. Since 2015, students from 45+ countries and 645 cities worldwide have participated.
Each session of the workshop is led by our trained coaches, who engage with students in individual and group work. We generally have a ratio of one coach for every ten students. During the workshop, each student publishes the results of the 13 assigned projects on the community altMBA site. The entire course is conducted in English, and skill and confidence in English is our only specific admission requirement.
Over one session of the workshop, it’s not unusual for more than 50,000 messages to be exchanged between students and coaches in Slack. The program is synchronous, with regular deadlines, group discussions, and face-to-face video calls. It is entirely based online, with students participating from their home or workplace.
The tuition for the program is $3,850. Attending students include freelancers, independent professionals, entrepreneurs and corporate employees. Represented brands include Microsoft, charity:water, Nike, The Red Cross, Coca Cola, Whole Foods and others. For a more complete list of companies and alumni, visit: our Alumni Spotlight
Admission to the altMBA is by application only. You can meet the team that creates the altMBA here.
26 sessions of the altMBA completed
Important dates to note:
February session - Applications Closed
Workshop start date: February 4, 2019
Workshop end date: March 6, 2019
May 2019 session - Applications Open
Workshop start date: Monday, May 6
Workshop end date: Wednesday, June 5
We give priority to early applicants who know they want to do the altMBA and take the leap.
If you are eager to secure a spot in an upcoming session, the benefit for applying the first priority round is that (a) we give priority to applicants who apply early, and (b) you’ll only be asked to submit a non-refundable deposit to secure your seat. The remainder is due at a later time.
For early and regular applicants, you have a little more time to apply. Again, the sooner you apply, the sooner we can review your application and see how it fits into our overall class. Early and regular applicants will be asked to submit the full tuition to secure their seat in the workshop.
To see specific deadlines, see these dates and deadlines to mark on your calendar.
The altMBA is a 4 week sprint built around specific projects. We release project prompts on Monday morning at 6:30 AM Eastern Time.
Students can choose to work in one of our five base time zones: Pacific, Central, Eastern, London or Sydney Time. You can select one time zone for the duration of the program and all team meetings are held in your cohort’s time zone.
There are live, mandatory team meetings three days per week. While meetings may not last the entire time, please make sure that you are able to carve out the scheduled blocks of time, as many projects are completed by a group, and time to complete the project varies.
For Pacific, Central, Eastern and London time zones, learning team meetings will take place on Tuesday/Thursday from 6-9PM, and Sunday from 9-5 PM.
For the Sydney time zone, students will work on a slightly different schedule to accommodate the time difference, meeting on Wednesday/Friday from 6-9 PM, and Sunday from 9-5PM. (All in Sydney Time).
Here is the pattern that repeats for each project:
You can check out the sample calendar below:
We’re entering an economy based almost entirely on projects, trust and connection. Those are the three forces that change our culture, and the three building blocks of the course. Together, students learn to act. Act first. Act often. Once we commit to action, it gets easier to see. To see how culture change works, how people listen to stories, how difficult (or easy) it is to make an impact. And then, once we can see, we open the door to real learning.
There’s more information available to more people than ever before in human history. But if you’re not thirsty to learn and you’re not aware of what you need to know, it does you no good at all.
Students who are transformed by this process will discover that there are enormous resources just waiting to be tapped, opportunities that were always there but never noticed before.
We use Slack, Zoom HD video conferencing, and WordPress to create connection, urgency and public projects.
Check out a Medium article, Q&A with the Director of Seth Godin’s altMBA — Here’s How You Can Craft a Winning Application .
Unlike traditional compliance-based education, our curriculum is hands-on. More than 75% of your time is spent producing work, meaning that you’ll learn concepts and immediately put them into action. The work involves shipping your responses to projects, getting feedback from peers, providing constructive criticism, and publishing your work on your community page.
There will be a total of 13 projects, three due per week, with a larger, final project at the end of the workshop. On those days you’ll also have group meetings for brainstorms and discussion, and co-create the work virtually in your learning teams. Some projects are individual, others with a group.
Most of our students have full-time jobs or busy freelance schedules. We’ve created an intensive timeline that is designed to stretch you. But it will still be manageable given your real-life responsibilities and you’ll be surrounded by a global community that is truly passionate about learning and creating meaningful work.
This program is robust like an MBA, but it’s not for bankers.
This is for leaders, executives, entrepreneurs, managers, artists, innovators, designers, builders, doers, and makers. Our alumni are from organizations like Coca-Cola, Nike, Johnson & Johnson, Whole Foods, Lululemon, charity:water, buildON, Red Cross, Kickstarter, Google, PWC, and more.
Typical participants have at least 5 to 8 years of work experience.
Is the altMBA right for you? Hear from our students who have been there.
Past students have come from industries including:
Regardless of industry or job function, the altMBA is for people in a hurry to create disruptive change. It’s for managers who want to sharpen their strategic thinking and add more frameworks to their toolbox.
You can select from one of the five time zones:
Option 1: Pacific time, based on San Francisco
Option 2: Eastern time, based on New York City
Option 3: Central time, based on Chicago
Option 4: GMT, based on London
Option 5: AEDT/AEST, based on Sydney
It’s possible that you’re on Mountain time, but are in the Central time group. That simply means that there weren’t enough people within your region, so we will place you with friends a few states or countries away.
When scheduling, use the official time zone of your cohort. You might have to do a bit of mental math to convert time. To calculate the time difference from your city and personal time zone to the altMBA’s base time zone from the options above, this tool may help.
We’re excited to announce the launch of the Australian Cohort, based in Sydney/Melbourne’s time zone of AEDT.
With the time difference in the region and the flow of the workshop, students based in this time zone will meet on a slightly different schedule so that they can work in step with their global classmates. But their experience will be the same, and they too, will follow the same altMBA process of project, commenting and RS. You can take a look at the calendar here.
A cohort is a group of ~20 students who have the same coach and work more closely together within the umbrella of 120 students. We grouped the cohorts by time zone to make real-time group work more convenient.
What does this look like? If you live in France, you’d be placed in the London cohort because it’s the closest fit to your time zone. (France is one hour ahead of London, but nine hours ahead of San Francisco.) If you’re in the London cohort, your group meeting times are based on London time, even if you are physically in France.
We have had students from 49 countries in total. Students have found that the timing has worked out well by planning ahead. Up until 2018, we have had four base time zones - Pacific, Central, Eastern and London, and we’re excited for the launch of our Sydney Time Zone that’s specific to their traditional working hours.
When designing the workshop, we do our best to group students in cohorts that are close to their time zone, but with numbers, we cannot guarantee it. We will contact you in advance if there is a change to your preferred time zone.
It might stand for alternative method for becoming amazing…
But what we truly stand for is the posture of taking responsibility for creating work that matters.
We stand for speaking up, speaking out and listening, too.
We stand for embracing an informal process for growth instead of needing an authorized, accredited piece of paper to prove that you’ve somehow absorbed a bunch of data.
We stand for you, in the future, making a difference.
Consider the traditional top-tier MBA: It takes two years, you need to move and it costs more than $125,000.
The best business school experience is transformative. It exposes students to a new way of thinking as well as a cohort of fellow travelers, motivated, smart people in a hurry to change things.
What’s changed is that access to information is no longer the reason to go to business school. The information is everywhere.
Our goal with the altMBA is to assemble leaders (corporate executives, non-profit linchpins, founders, managers and people in a hurry) and to connect them and amplify their work.
Without leaving home. In just a month of intense effort.
The altMBA doesn’t pretend to make you an expert in finance, cost accounting or marketing. We don’t even try. Instead, we’re organized around action, around publishing, around sharing your work and learning from it.
The altMBA isn't a school. It's a workshop. We don't have a placement program, don't make any promises of career success or a new job. Instead, we are focused on helping you see new opportunities, making better decisions and leveling up in all the areas that matter to you.
If this sounds like it might be part of the change you’d like to see in your life and career, we hope you’ll apply.[A college degree is not required. And if you already have an MBA, you’re welcome. We do best with students of any change who are thirsty for change and eager for connection.]
An investment. $3,850. And it’s not just the money, it’s the time you’ll be spending as well.
There are two reasons for the tuition. The first is that the altMBA requires a significant amount of commitment. Not only time (see below) but the decision to overcome your status quo. One way we can make that likely to happen is to raise the stakes.
The other reason it’s not free is that in order to build an environment focused on group dynamics and change, we’re investing in people. Every section of the altMBA has a full-time organizer behind it. Our goal isn’t to be big, it’s to be small. Small in size, but huge in our decision to create a difference.
If this sort of change or investment is too much, we totally get it. The altMBA probably isn’t for you. The good news is that all the content is in the world, free online or in accessible books. There are no secrets.
We’re seeking people of all ages, from all backgrounds, who share a desire to make work that matters and who have shown a willingness to contribute important work. We believe that every person we admit to the program will somehow raise the average, producing a community that will provoke, amplify and reward excellent work.
Some of our students (contributors is probably a better word) are the kind of people who could easily go to Stanford or Harvard, but would prefer the intense, intimate, condensed experience the altMBA offers. Others live far afield, have day jobs or seek transformation, not merely a certificate.
We’ve made it difficult to apply, betting that those that stick it out will be precisely the sort of people we’re looking for.
The basic requirements are simple: A high speed internet connection, a decent webcam, and the desire and commitment to take the course. Beyond that, we’re seeking people from all over the world (as long as your English is solid) as well as the generosity of spirit to come to an event like this focused on how you can impact your fellow students.
People who have demonstrated that they have the ability and desire to change are the ones most likely to encourage their fellow students to leap. If you're the kind of person that cares enough to read the FAQ, you're probably the kind of person who will get in.
If you have a job, that’s fabulous (freelancers and entrepreneurs are welcome too). This course is intense, and requires a commitment of time and money.
We’re eager to select people with an employer who can support the time and energy it will take, and we’re thrilled if they want to support your tuition as well.
Definitely. There are two things you should note:
You can. See above.
Everything we’re building revolves around this question. Most learning is ‘take it or leave it,’ and too often, the answer is ‘leave it.’ In the case of the altMBA, we’ve put a lot of effort into creating an environment where students support one another vigorously. We have coaches who help facilitate and bring out the best in you. In addition, all of the project work is posted live, where other students and the coaches can read it, react to it, and suggest improvements.
If you're concerned, take a minute to read this article by Seth Godin on Medium. It will help you understand our posture of coaching, not testing.
Some of our students find the lack of detail in the prompts frustrating. They are hoping for more direction and a more straightforward path toward the level of excellence that they're used to.
We've also found that some people hesitate to reach out to offer to help their fellows, or have difficulty finding the discipline to overdeliver when no one is demanding that they do so.
Fortunately, our students usually discover that this is all part of what we're trying to teach, what we're working to create. The altMBA isn't a course with a fixed curriculum and grades. Instead, it's a process, one that gives people the room they need to level up.
It's not for everyone but it might be for you.
This is a 4 week sprint, and the other members of the altMBA are counting on you and every other student to be fully present. See our course calendar for the details: The short version is that we ask that each member of the intensive allocate the time to take this process as seriously as the rest of us.
You don’t. It’s optional to choose to meet fellow students (we’ll make it easy to find one another) but it’s certainly not required.
The standard MBA program is now easily obtained online, usually for the cost of a few books. In the case of the altMBA, we’re focusing on several key concepts, all focused on making smart decisions, noticing reality, and causing change to happen.
The altMBA is an action-oriented workshop. We write, design, connect and launch. Taking notes or regurgitating is not part of this. There are no tests, just one reason why no one asks, “will this be on the test?”
The most important thing you’ll notice is what you don’t notice. Unlike every online course we’ve ever taken, this one has no secret content. There’s no “only you can see this secret bit” part.
Sure, there are videos, but they’re focused on what we actually do: Learn together.
This is a project-oriented course, a course designed to generate real learning. It’s not edutainment, instead, it’s an intense group/solo effort, designed to find the edge of your comfort zone and expand it.
For more on why videos aren’t the focus of what we’re doing, check this out.
We cap the size of the workshop. We currently have just over a hundred people in a session, but we're having such good results, our expectation is that we'll be increasing this--it adds heft and energy to the workshop. Whenever we add more students, though, we add more coaches, keeping our ratio at a very intimate 10:1 ratio. We’re small on purpose, and believe that a curated group of quality people is invaluable.
We divide you into study groups of 5, grouped into cohorts of 20. Over the course of 4 weeks, you’ll get to know the 20 people in your cohort quite well from collaborating on projects. You’ll have plenty of chances to meet everyone in the program.
In addition, there are chat rooms and discussions with our staff of coaches, who will respond and provoke, as needed.
A few hours. It can feel like a lot, but once you’re in it, you’ll find the time. This is more of a commitment but also way more effective than watching the first twenty minutes of a MOOC and then never going back again.
Some specifics: Students commit to three-hour sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays, (Wednesdays and Fridays for Sydney’s time zone) as well as 1, all day, eight-hour meeting every Sunday, for one month. We’re organized to support multiple time zones, but everything happens in real time, for 4 weeks. It might be that your schedule doesn’t work this time, but we hope it will for a future session.
Because this is a sprint, it’s essential that you don’t miss a session.
Unlike most online courses, the altMBA happens in sync, with lots of group-work and human interaction. We recommend that students block off at least a few hours per day for reading, research and solo work, in addition to time blocked off for group discussion meetings twice a week and all day Sunday. See the calendar for details.
It’s a commitment, which is part of why it works. You give a lot, but you get far more than you give in return.
The program is online.
No. Our founder created the course and designed all the projects. But this is not a top-down process, and all the content used in the course is available to non-students. In other words, there’s no secret curriculum, no magic words only available to students.
Each section of the course is staffed with coaches who are professionals designed to help student cohorts find each other and push harder. You get as much out of the process as you put into it. As in real life, Seth doesn’t do any coaching, consulting or investing.
The course is entirely virtual, so no travel is required. There may be optional opportunities to meet fellow altMBA changemakers in your area, but that’s not included in tuition.
We’ll ship everyone course materials before the workshop begins. Those are included in the fee. Most of the readings are non-optional, and we trust that altMBA students will keep each other on the hook for doing the work.
Whenever possible, we’re going to direct students to online readings and videos, though there are books that are worth buying (or finding in the library) and you’re on the hook to acquire those.
In addition to the course itself, perhaps our biggest goal is to build a powerful alumni network. Fellow changemakers, pushing each other to make a difference. After the course, support for/between/by our members goes on
There are no hidden fees, add-ons, individual tariffs, tolls or other surprises..
Depending on where you live, the cost might be tax deductible, and we will do whatever we can to help you be reimbursed by your company, as more and more enlightened organizations are understanding the value of continuous learning.
We need to note that the altMBA is informal, unaccredited, and non-bureaucratic. If you need an official course credit or the full facilities of a bursar’s office, this isn’t for you.
Find out how our alumni got reimbursement.
We use accept all standard credit card options, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, as well as PayPal. We’re not currently set up to bill your company, so we ask that you expense this if permitted.
The altMBA is a mutual commitment. We commit to welcoming you into a small, focused cohort of professionals, and doing everything we can to deliver on the promises of the workshop. In return, we ask you to commit to spending the time, money and passion it takes to level up, at the same time you contribute to others in the session.
We understand that life can interfere and that plans change, and we’ve tried to create a refund policy that respects you, our students and our mutual commitments.
DEPOSIT: We require a $500 deposit to secure your spot in the altMBA program and to accept our admission offer. Your deposit is non-refundable.
TUITION: The rest of your tuition, $3,350, is fully refundable any time between the day we receive it and thirty-one days before the start of the session you originally applied to attend. If you withdraw and ask for a refund, and then later decide to reapply--you'll be asked to pay a new non-refundable deposit as part of your full tuition.
WITHDRAWAL: If, in the opinion of our coaches, you’re not contributing to the culture and forward motion of your cohort, we’ll let you know. If you’re still not able to actively participate, we’ll ask you to withdraw from the workshop. In this situation, no refund is possible, and we’ll donate half your tuition to BuildOn.
We understand that life happens and that plans can change. This being said, we have to be fair to other eager students who are ready to take the leap. We’ve found that deferrals wreak havoc on our systems and make it difficult for us to serve our other students..
We allow just one deferral. You're eligible to defer one time, to an open session on our calendar. You're only eligible if you've paid your non-refundable deposit.
You can only defer up to 10 days prior to the start date of the workshop. No deferrals are possible afterwards.
If you are admitted to the workshop and need to defer, please email email@example.com and we'll get you sorted.
We offer a handful of scholarships, reserved each year for full-time nonprofit executives with a proven track record of charitable work. Each session, we carefully review all incoming applications and often have more deserving nonprofit candidates than scholarships available. We will contact qualified candidates directly throughout each round of admissions.
The program dates:
May 6 – June 5, 2019
Note: The early decision deadline for the May 2019 session is
Friday, March 1st.