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The Demise of the Business School MBA Program

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It wasn’t too long ago that having a Masters of Business Administration was a surefire way to success. Earning the degree almost guaranteed employment in an investment bank or big corporation, and if you already worked in such a place, an MBA was your ticket to the top. According to a 2015 survey by Global Management Admission Council, MBA recipients strongly felt their education improved their competitive advantage in the market. But times have changed. Now, some of the most prominent business school MBA programs in the U.S. have started closing down. Others have gradually migrated their classes to the strictly digital realm. Clearly, the bubble has burst.

Welcome to the demise of the business school MBA program.

Business School MBA Programs Pull Their Curtains Down

The Gies College of Business University of Illinois has recently announced that it is closing down its full-time, on-campus program. Gies believes it is the best business decision for the school after it started experiencing a downturn in the applicants for both its full-time and part-time programs. Applications slid from 386 in 2016 to 290 this year. Between 2016 and 2019, only 50 full-time students enrolled in the program.

Gies, however, is not the only one. Other business school MBA programs–at Virginia Tech, Wake Forest University, Simmons College and others–have also closed their doors.

The list of business school MBA programs that are closing down continues to get longer. University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business saw it last full-time MBA students graduate in May this year.

The trend has also reached the U.K. with Henley Business School initially placing its MBA program under review. The school then canceled its full-time program in March.

Analysts Shed Light on Why Business Schools are Shutting Down their MBA Programs

Business school MBA programs are among the oldest in the history of education, which had their beginnings at Harvard in 1916. Their decline in the last few years significantly reshapes the educational landscape. No other business program can benefit students the way an MBA can. After all, it isn’t so much what you learn in a full-time program, but the networking opportunities that open for you in those two years that really matter.

There are several reasons why business school MBA programs are dying. Their high cost is one of them. Recent data have revealed that millennials are shifting to master’s degree in entrepreneurship and data analytics. These shorter and cheaper alternatives that give quicker returns appeal to the younger generation who are mindful of their college debt and are reluctant to get into more financial troubles.

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Why business schools are shutting down their MBA programs is also the effect of the significant change in the hiring demands of employers. According to Henley, its decision to halt its MBA degree was based on the preference of companies to hire pre-MBA applicants. The same is happening for U.S companies where they find it cost-effective to hire candidates without MBA as MBA graduates demand very high salaries.

Business School MBA Programs Going Online

While we are witnessing the eventual demise of full-time MBA programs, there is an assurance that business school MBA programs will not disappear altogether. Business schools are now shifting to online MBA programs. They are not only attuned to the shift in global technology, students also find it to be more practical. Some have expressed their concern that it may not offer the face-to-face networking in a full-time MBA program, but iMBA students are quick to debunk this.

 A Forbes report says that there are currently 32,000 online MBA students among the biggest programs in the U.S. Gies has also reported that its iMBA has experienced tremendous growth since its launching in 2015. While a full-time MBA costs more than $58,000 in tuition and fees, an online MBA costs only $22,000. It is clearly a more viable choice for students aiming to complete an MBA degree.

 These shifts in educational platforms are happening across different fields. Bold Business will continue to monitor changes in the field of education. We recently reported on economics and education reform that require schools to have computer science curricula. These changes are showing us that the technological shift is changing not only global businesses but education as well.

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