MBA Trends

Is business school the new design school?

People are often surprised when they hear that I earned my master of business administration degree, or MBA, as a side-hobby while I was a tenured professor at MIT. Even MIT’s human resources department was perplexed that I’’d want to apply for the employee benefit to partially support my tuition costs. My motivation to do so was simple: I’d spent most of my life in the research world interacting with corporations during my years at the Media Lab, but I often got lost when the business folks would bandy financial or other business terms around me. So I wanted to defeat my lack of knowledge, by acquiring what most of them seemed to have: an MBA. Fast forward ten years and a few professional changes later, my interest turned back to business schools again. This year after releasing the #2016 DesignInTech Report, it turns out that all of the top ten U.S. business schools have design clubs led by students. The trend was remarkable, and to give credit where it is due, it was my KPCB partner Jackie Xu who brought this fact to the foreground. So we set out to interview student leaders at three business school clubs: Yale School of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management, and Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Respectively, those schools are represented by Wilma Lam, Anita Wu, and Jeremy Fish in a recent KPCB Ventured podcast. Below are some key takeaways from our discussion. Design is being embedded into traditional businesses Fortune 500 companies are beginning to use human-centered design to think about problem solving rather than traditional hypothesis testing, which is why we are seeing more than 10% of Fortune 100 companies place design as an executive...

Today’s MBA candidates have a clearer vision for the future...

Business school applicants consider applying to fewer programmes and are more focused on a particular postgraduate career path according to a new study by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). The 2016 mba.com Prospective Students Survey Report was conducted amongst 10,000 individuals worldwide. The survey showed that on average, prospective students considered 2.8 programme types in 2015, down from 3.1 in 2014. For their postgraduate careers, 71 per cent of those surveyed cited a single industry of interest, compared with 58 per cent in 2014. In addition, 61 per cent of prospective students cited a single job function of interest, compared with 46 per cent in 2014. According to GMAC the current status of the economy might play a role in this phenomenon as prospective students may perceive it to be easier to go after their “dream job” in this market compared with the post-recession years. The other interesting outcome of the survey was that students seem to show greater interest in specialised business master’s programmes. One-fourth (23 per cent) are considering only specialised business master’s programmes, such as Master of Accounting or Master of Finance, which represents an increase since 2009, when just 15 per cent of candidates were considering only specialized master’s programmes. Slightly more than a quarter, or 28 per cent, are considering both MBA and specialised business master’s programmes whereas 50 per cent of prospective students are still only going for MBA programmes. In Western Europe, however, the pipeline has notably shifted toward specialised (pre-experience) business master’s programmes, especially within the past seven years. In 2009, 49 per cent of prospective students were considering only MBA programmes and 22 per cent were considering only specialised business master’s programmes. In 2015, the tables have turned with...

Cheap MBAs: Costly for some

THERE’S no such thing as a free lunch. That maxim should be ingrained in the minds of business-school students, attuned to the notion of opportunity cost or Milton Friedman’s economic theories. Yet to believe the American non-profit University of the People (UoPeople), run by Shai Reshef, an Israeli entrepreneur, something close to a free lunch could soon be available to prospective MBA students. On March 15th the university opened applications for an MBA without tuition fees that it plans to launch in September 2016. That much is admirable, and certainly should be applauded. But don’t prepare to burn Friedman’s 1975 tome yet: there’s still no such thing as a free lunch. One hundred successful applicants will be enrolled onto the 15-month distance-learning course, and will be asked to pay just $200 for each of the 12 courses they will take as part of the programme. That is still a pittance, and a minuscule fraction of the cost of an MBA at the sort of business schools ranked by The Economist. “The cost of an MBA today is so expensive that many people who are qualified to achieve it cannot afford it,” Mr Reshef said when announcing his plans. Certainly, business schools can be rarefied places. So the development of a legitimate MBA at a low cost could be beneficial. Russell Winer, professor of marketing at NYU Stern and the leader of the MBA programme at UoPeople, told The Economist that the establishment can offer a cheaper programme than most by being online-only and lean-staffed. It also has the backing of faculty members from other big business schools, including INSEAD, Wharton and Oxford, all of whom have helped develop the curriculum. And yet the devil is in the detail. Some...

Online Tool Helps Prospective Students Find the Right MBA Program...

Prospective MBA students have a new tool to use when trying to find the right school: the “MBA Rankings Calculator.” Designed by the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, the web-based tool allows users to create a custom list of MBA programs by choosing the factors that matter most to them, including salary and placement, employer reputation, and return on investment. Around 250,000 students in the US pursue an MBA each year, and according the US Department of Education the average cost for a year in an MBA program is $30,000. That means the MBA market amounts to more than $8 billion annually. It’s a big business and rankings play a strong role in guiding early decision-making. The Foster School’s Rankings Calculator was developed to help MBA applicants make informed decisions and access diverse rankings metrics in one convenient place. Prospective and current MBA students helped shape the calculator design and select the metrics. “Obviously, we urge MBA candidates to always consider the culture, the community, the location, the student services, program performance and other areas that matter to them when choosing an MBA program,” said Dan Poston, assistant dean of master’s programs at the Foster School. “But we know for nearly all candidates the rankings are a consideration. Not only does this tool help them filter data from multiple rankings to see the results that that are most important to them…it’s just fun to explore how school rankings change based on different priorities.” To achieve this, the calculator leverages data licensed from U.S. News & World Report, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Financial Times, Forbes and M7 Financial. Prospective applicants distribute 100 points across up to 10 metrics. Based on the results, candidates can fine-tune their formula to develop...

Insead tops ‘Financial Times’ MBA rankings...

Insead, the business school with campuses in France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi, has topped the Financial Times’ Global MBA rankings for the first time since they were introduced in 1999. This is the first time that an MBA programme with a substantial Asian presence has been ranked number one by the Financial Times , and marks a growing interest from elite students in Asian business and business schools. Insead is still the only top-ranked business school to teach its full-time MBA on multiple campuses, with 75 per cent of the 1,000 students studying in Singapore or in Fontainebleau, just outside Paris. It is also the first time a one-year MBA programme has been ranked in the top slot. The flagship MBA programmes of the four previous winners – Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in the US, and London Business School in the UK – are all two-year degrees. These schools have been ranked in the top five slots along with Insead for the past three years by the FT. The full-time MBA programme at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School has been ranked 79th in the world and 24th in Europe in the survey. The school had been ranked 73rd in the 2015 rankings. The Insead MBA was the world’s first one-year programme when it began in 1959, though many others have followed. As the cost of studying for an MBA has steadily risen, many students are wary of taking on the debt associated with two-year degrees – students are frequently more than $100,000 in debt when they graduate. Though fees and living costs can be substantial, it is often the opportunity cost of lost salary that is the biggest...

Consider a Second MBA Degree

The idea of pursuing a second MBA degree may sound strange, but it happens with a small number of applicants during every admissions season and can make sense under the right, very specific, circumstances. Some applicants consider a second degree after earning an MBA from a for-profit university or an unaccredited program. They may find they have hit a ceiling with their employment prospects as they vie for positions against candidates from better-known schools. More often, people who seek a second degree are international candidates who have discovered that their professional dreams cannot be fulfilled with their current degree alone. In India, for example, it’s common for a student to jump into an MBA program straight out of university, which makes for a very theoretical learning experience rather than a practical one in which to contextualize management problems. Once these MBA grads get into the workforce, they discover they must further develop various skills to become strong business leaders. For professionals working in international firms who aspire to relocate abroad, a degree earned in-country will not open doors the way a highly ranked MBA from a name-brand university will. A second MBA is seen as an efficient way to move out of a stagnant career and enhance their competitiveness, allowing the degree holder to shift into a new function, industry or geography after completing their studies. Creating a rich classroom experience through diversity is a huge focus of the top business schools, offering students the opportunity to interact with peers from an array of countries and professional backgrounds. While the educational component of the degree in South Asian business schools, for example, may sometimes rival their international counterparts, the ability to create networking ties across the globe is nowhere...

MBA programmes that yield the best salaries

One major component of Business Insider’s ranking is the average starting salary. Looking at this exclusively, you can filter out the business schools that yield the best salaries after graduation. Among the 50 leading schools, students from 22 schools went on achieving base salaries over 100,000 US-Dollar. Although Stanford placed fourth on the overall list, its graduates earn the highest starting salaries of all the schools, averaging more than 133,000 US-Dollar. Other high achievers like Harvard and Wharton fared well as well. Harvard graduates earn an average of more than 131,000 US-Dollar after school and Wharton graduates average on more than 127,000 US-Dollar, though Wharton’s tuition cost also amounts to 144,340 US-Dollar. The Wharton School topped the Business Insider ranking overall in 2015 for all-around excellence (see article above). Wharton’s salary expectation is similar to Columbia Business School’s as well as Sloan School of Management’s and the Booth School of Business’s. Graduates of Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business follow with an average starting salary of 123,900 US-Dollar. Amongst the 22 schools are many more well-known schools like the Anderson School of Management, the Fuqua School of Business, Yale School of Management, London Business School, Darden Business School, the Booth School of Business or the Kellogg School of Management. But other not as well-known universities do well in the salary category as well. Graduates from the Foster School of Business, the Jones Graduate School of Business or the McCombs School of Business also break the ranks of the 100,000 US-Dollarfor example. Read full story: MBA...

Don’t Rush The MBA Decision: Not All Work Experience Is Created Equal...

We all know some things look good on paper but don’t always work in practice. And that sentiment should be taken into consideration when deciding if the time is right for an MBA. Just because you have the two years of experience that many of the world’s business schools require, doesn’t mean you are ready for an MBA. You should think more deeply about how to get the most out of your investment of time and money before applying to an MBA. We often see applicants rush this decision. At the Ivey Business School, we believe that a key question candidates should be asking themselves before applying to an MBA is: Does it make sense for me to get this degree right now? Here are some things to consider: 1.The admissions teams can help: The admissions team at Ivey is not in place to scrutinize or judge applicants. Instead, an important part of the team’s role is to ensure that you make the best decision possible, so you can get the most out of the program and contribute to the class community in a meaningful way. Where you are at in your own work journey before you arrive is a critical part of a successful outcome. Talk to us. We can help; 2.Quality over quantity: Be prepared to talk about the kind of work you have done. We are not interested in the length of time you have spent collecting a paycheque, but instead your ability to talk about the quality of work you have done. Tell us about the interactions you have experienced with internal or external clients and the projects you have contributed to moving forward. Bringing these kinds of experiences to formal classroom discussions is a...

The 19 best online MBA programs

An MBA can be a shortcut for ascending the career ladder and boosting your salary. While attending one of best b-schools in the world can be an attractive option — Business Insider published its list of the world’s 50 best business schools in December — for some working professionals it’s not feasible, making online programs a great alternative. U.S. News & World Report recently released their ranking of the best online MBA programs, evaluating schools based solely on data related to their distance education MBA programs in five categories: student engagement, admissions selectivity, peer reputation, faculty credentials and training, and student services and technology. (You can read a full breakdown of the methodology here.) Note that because of multiple ties, the ranking only goes through No. 15. Temple University’s online MBA program took the top spot, followed by Indiana University at Bloomington, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Read on for the rest of the 19 best online MBA programs in the country, according to U.S. News.Read full story: Business...

MBA Students’ Predictions For Business Education In 2016...

BusinessBecause spoke to several MBA students at the heart of the business school world to get their thoughts on what lies ahead. Power To The Pupil Ragen Haythorpe is a part-time student on the flexible MBA program at UWA Business School. She believes that with competition for applicants high, business schools will become more responsive to the needs of their students. “We will see greater flexibility for students to create their own unique education experience,” she says. “Enhanced collaboration between educational institutions, moving towards borderless education….is the way of the future.” MBA students want to choose what they learn, how and where they learn it. “New age companies like Google, Apple, Uber and Airbnb have shown how effective a bottom-up consumer oriented approach can be,” says Arijit Gupta, a first year student at the George Washington University School of Business. “I hope that the education industry picks up this mantra and starts offering courses which are customizable based on the students’ interests.” Online Revolution For Aaron Hoyles, a student at EMLYON Business School in France, more flexibility over how MBA programs are designed will invariably mean more content delivered online. “We’ll increasingly see online content blended with the classroom experience,” he says. “The most successful models will combine richly produced, self-paced digital content with collaborative teamwork that is practical and emphasizes integrative thinking and experiential learning.” Harish Sivashanmugam, a first year student at CUHK Business School, agrees. “Theoretical teaching will be pushed online and [the] classroom will become an incubation center,” he says. Harish also forecasts that more people will work in the technology sector and in start-ups, forcing a change in MBA course content. “Business education will cease to exist as an offshoot of finance,” he says. He...

For MBAs, it pays to be well-rounded

Specialization has become the new mantra at business schools, with students pursuing increasingly narrow tracks of study in hopes of gaining an advantage in the job market. New research suggests that some highly specialized students may not be getting the advantage they’re hoping for. Jennifer Merluzzi, an assistant professor of management at the A. B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University, says graduates of elite MBA programs who specialize receive lower starting-bonus compensation and are less likely to receive multiple job offers than graduates with more diverse resumes. “People think that if they can demonstrate an expertise in something, it’s going to be rewarded, but we actually found the opposite,” Merluzzi says. “The people who were more focused were actually being penalized.” Merluzzi and co-author Damon Phillips, professor of management at Columbia University, tracked two cohorts of recent graduates from a top-ranked MBA program. All graduates tended to earn similar base compensation for similar jobs, but the graduates who opted to specialize in terms of academic concentration, extracurriculars and summer internships received smaller bonuses and were less likely to receive multiple job offers than their less-focused peers. While the paper focused exclusively on investment banking, they found evidence of the specialist disadvantage in marketing and corporate finance as well. “It’s just basic supply and demand,” Merluzzi says. “If there’s a market where specialization is rare, it’s going to be more valued. But with the market for top MBA graduates, where the focus is on creating really specialized resumes, specialization becomes commodified, and the person who shows accomplishment across a lot of areas then becomes more unusual and more valuable to hiring firms who deem these candidates as offering more.” The paper, “The Specialist Discount: Negative Returns for MBAs...

How Jack Welch Is Reinventing the MBA

The former GE CEO’s online MBA program has a laser-like focus on customer service. When legendary General Electric CEO Jack Welch hired a headhunter to search for new deans of curriculum and faculty for his online management institute, he had an unusual requirement. “Jack didn’t like pie-in-the-sky academic types,” says Michael Kirkman, a search consultant with Lochlin Partners. Despite that limitation, Kirkman had little trouble rounding up an impressive portfolio of higher ed candidates. “Everybody was very interested, particularly with Jack’s name attached to it,” Kirkman says. “A lot of them are just tired of the bureaucracy and garbage that goes on in traditional academic environments.” Welch ultimately hired Craig Clawson, former managing director of Duke Corporate Education, as dean of curriculum, and Mike Zeliff, a faculty member at George Washington University and a former marketing director for the U.S. Marine Corps, as the dean of faculty. Both hires go a long way in telegraphing the fact that the four-year-old Jack Welch Management Institute is one of the very few business schools that is run like a business, with a laser-like focus on customer service. The school is closely managed on student surveys that measure the impact of the education as well as the likelihood that a student would recommend the institute to a friend or colleague. At JWMI, every administrator and faculty member understands that students are customers. In fact, the incentive pay of the core leadership team—up to 25% of their annual base salaries—is based on satisfying those customers. Net Promoter Scores (NPS), the metric Welch is using to monitor student satisfaction, are widely discussed among the leadership team, even down to the scores on the 12 courses that make up the MBA curriculum. “We’re running this...