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The Economist on Full-Time MBAs

MasterBlaster-20161015_WBC840"Campus vs beach: The full-time MBA is under pressure from specialist degrees and online education" (October 15, 2016 issue). Specialist degrees are Master's, for instance in finance or data, that people pursue straight after a bachelor's degree. From the article: "Students who take the specialist business degrees and who then start in the workforce are far less likely to want to stop five years into their job and take a full-time MBA." While employers still "raid generalist MBA program[s]" for people with leadership skills, they have increasingly turned to specialized Master's programs for "graduates who can carry out specific, complex tasks." The article is particularly noteworthy for its "Master blaster" graph about the applications for MBA and non-MBA Masters from 2007 to present. While non-MBA masters represented about 20% of applications among applicants sending GMAT scores back in 2007, that percentage reached almost 40% today.

Of course those are only percentages and if the number of total applicants with GMAT scores grew enough, 80% of today's total could still be much higher than 90% of 2007's total. But it doesn't sound like that's the case - Case Western University, for instance, has put an end to its full-time MBA and will only a part-time program from now on, to cater to people who want to remain full-time employed while they pursue their degree. Taking into account the availability of online and specialist degrees, and given the fact that students enroll in specialist degrees right after college, we're probably witnessing a shift in the traditional MBA population toward more seasoned professionals rather than twenty-eight-year olds trying to escape their first or second job with dreams of corporate ascent. It'll be interesting to see in a few years what it means for the enrollment in executive education programs.


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