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...

It’s time to reinvent the MBA

Are MBA programs still viable? Are their graduates still valued by employers? Despite these questions, demand for MBA programs is growing: 84 per cent of companies worldwide plan to add new MBAs to their work force in 2015 – up from 74 per cent in 2014 and 62 per cent five years ago, according to a global survey of employers published by the U.S.-based Graduate Management Admission Council. The MBA is hardly dying, and certainly far from dead. But it needs an overhaul. When MBA programs originated in the United States in the early 20th century, the country had industrialized and companies wanted more scientific approaches to management. Today, most MBA programs – about 10,000 and growing – still use pedagogical approaches designed to legitimize management as a science, lecturing in classrooms and teaching cases on topics derived from disciplinary silos. This is true of even the most established and prestigious MBA programs. The boom of new programs around the world, and increasing competition for the brightest students, ought to spur innovation in curricula. The complex challenges confronting contemporary society, such as addressing climate change, reducing inequality and ensuring the sustainability of health systems, demand it. As leaders of organizations who today employ MBAs around the world, and MBA graduates ourselves, we have insights into what this innovation should look like to ensure MBA programs fulfill their responsibility to prepare leaders able to meet these challenges and have positive impacts on their organizations, communities and society more broadly. At a recent conference celebrating 50 years of the MBA at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management in Montreal, we listened to and learned from more than 200 successful MBA alumni, professors and students from around the world in order to...

Two-year MBAs still the gold standard

Full-time, two-year MBA programs worldwide edged out their one-year counterparts in terms of growth, according to new application trends for 2014 analyzed by the Graduate Management Admission Council. For the second year in a row, 65 per cent of two-year MBA programs reported increased or stable application volumes compared to flat or declining demand for one-year and specialized graduate offerings. Among one-year programs, 60 per cent reported a decrease in application volumes from last year, according to the council that administers the widely-used entrance exam for graduate business programs. For some students, a two-year MBA has an advantage over shorter-duration programs despite a higher price, says Michelle Sparkman Renz, director of research communication for GMAC. “It might offer additional time with classmates for networking, internships, activities for case competitions or even exchange or study abroad.” According to the survey, students in a majority of programs still expect employer reimbursement of degrees. Based on a record response from 748 programs at 314 universities, the survey highlights the diversification of offerings globally and the growing presence of foreign candidates. International students accounted for 52 per cent of applicants to 135 full-time, two-year MBA programs worldwide in 2014, up from 48 per cent to 115 programs 2009. In 2009, foreign students accounted for 60 per cent of 25 master of finance programs offered in 2009. But by 2014, among 38 programs reporting to GMAC, they represented 82 per cent of applicants worldwide. “It speaks to the internationalization and the international curriculum that an MBA or specialized business master can grant someone,” Ms. Sparkman Renz says. One Canada-specific finding is its 10th spot placement among top destinations for recruiters, according to the survey. China, India and the United States top the list, but...