An MBA is just a click away. What that means for brick and mortar schools

The future of higher learning

More people are taking their education digital.That approach, which rips a page out of "The Jetsons," may be making the grade, but it could ultimately come at a cost to sprawling university campuses.

Fueled by new technology and those hesitant to leave well-paying jobs to relocate in an unpredictable economy, more universities are offering traditional master of business administration (MBA) programs online. As it happens, the learning curve for them may not be as steep as you think.

Many of these schools are partnering up with companies such as 2U (TWOU), which provides cloud-based software to enhance the online learning experience. Live classes are conducted through webcams so students and teachers can interact.

"The horse has left the barn in terms of proving that online programs can more than match the rigor and educational experience of on-campus programs," said CEO Chip Paucek, who co-founded 2U in 2008. "The company's biggest challenge was the preconceived notions of online education, which were terrible."

Syracuse University's Whitman School of Management, which is working with 2U, launched its online MBA program just last month. Some 100 students from six countries, including the U.S., are enrolled.

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"They (2U) have a technology experience we could not have provided on our own," said Amy McHale, assistant dean for masters programs and director of experiential learning.

The average age of students enrolled in the online MBA degree is 35 years old, McHale said. Those attending traditional classes on the main campus are generally about 25 years old and have limited work experience.