Can U.S. schools adapt to a turbulent time?
In an era of disruption, business education programs at U.S. colleges and universities are not immune from the shock waves. Schools are competing vigorously for students as applications to traditional MBA programs fall. The popularity of online graduate business study is soaring, in part because it is far less costly than traditional programs. Students are increasingly opting for specialization, and schools are intensifying their efforts to distinguish themselves from their competitors. The result is a shakeout that is proving to be turbulent, and in some cases lethal: In recent years, a number of major universities have ended their full-time MBA programs. Others are condensing the length of the traditional two-year program or increasing students’ opportunities to work toward a degree part time.
Key takeaways include:
Applications to traditional MBA programs have dropped for the past four academic years, and in 2017–18 even the most prestigious schools experienced declines.
Interest in U.S. schools’ programs also is falling among international students, who once provided a buffer against declining enrollment but now are turning to schools in other countries amid tougher U.S. immigration policies.
Business school curriculums are evolving to meet student demands for coursework that more closely reflects the real world, focusing on issues such as social entrepreneurship and partnering with local institutions to help effect change in their communities.
Resources for Further Study
Davis, Gerald F., “The Vanishing American Corporation: Navigating the Hazards of a New Economy,” Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2016. A University of Michigan associate dean and professor says the nature of American corporations has changed and ways of managing them must change, too.
Khurana, Rakesh, “From Higher Aims to Hired Hands: The Social Transformation of American Business Schools and the Unfulfilled Promise of Management as a Profession,” Princeton University Press, 2007, updated 2010. A Harvard Business School professor recounts the history of business education and contends management should be elevated as a profession.
Roberts, Sara, “Nimble, Focused, Feisty: Organizational Cultures That Win in the New Era and How To Create Them,” BenBella Books, 2016. An executive consultant explains that rapid technology shifts have made 21st-century corporations more unstable and discusses how future leaders must face such challenges.
Treadgold, Warren, “The University We Need: Reforming American Higher Education,” Encounter Books, 2018. A professor of Byzantine Studies and History at Saint Louis University contends that U.S. universities should abolish specialties such as business administration programs and focus on broader topics such as economics.
Boyington, Brianna, “Explore the 2019 Best Business Schools,” U.S. News & World Report, March 19, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Le, Cindy, “How Can U.S. MBA Programs Respond to Declining Demand from International MBA Students?” World Education News & Reviews, Oct. 17, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Linker, Lawrence, “4 Myths About MBA Admissions Dispelled by Data,” Forbes, Sept. 15, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Zarya, Valentina, and Grace Donnelly, “What’s Killing U.S. Business Schools? These 4 Charts Help Explain,” Fortune, Oct. 20, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Reports and Studies
“Reforming Management Education,” Stanford Social Innovation Review, September 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
“The Year In Review,” Harvard Business School, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
Colby, S., and Bruggeman, P., “What Women Want: A Blueprint for Change In Business Education,” Graduate Management Admission Council, March 2017, https://tinyurl.com/
The Next Step
“Berkeley Haas ranks No. 2 in U.S. for women MBAs, and No. 3 in the world,” Berkeley News, March 6, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Leiber, Nick, “The Fight for Female MBAs,” Bloomberg, June 8, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Tozer, Alice, “A Major Business School Reaches Gender Parity Among MBA Students for the First Time,” Fortune, July 25, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Byrne, John, “Dean Of Duke’s B-School: Trump’s Immigration Policy Could Make The U.S. An ‘Economic Dinosaur,’” Forbes, Aug. 31, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Chadha, Janaki, and Kelsey Gee, “‘U.S. Workers Only’: Companies Hesitate to Hire Foreign M.B.A. Students,” The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 1, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
Lewington, Jennifer, “Trump drives some international MBA seekers to Canada,” The Globe and Mail, updated Sept. 14, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/
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