Full-time MBAs: America second

HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL welcomed its first MBA students in 1908. For the century or more since, the full-time MBA, taken over two academic years, has remained the flagship qualification for budding senior executives and employers. But that popularity has been waning. For the third year running, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which administers an entrance exam used by many business schools to rank new entrants, has reported a fall in the number of applications to programmes in the United States. Overall, two-thirds of American business schools reported a drop in the number of applications to study on the traditional MBA in 2017. Globally, more schools this year reported a decline in applications than an increase.

There are two main reasons for this, reckons Gregg Schoenfeld of GMAC. Firstly, America’s economy is in good health—and it is during lean times that professionals tend to take the time out to improve their CV with specialist MBA training. Secondly, as we have previously outlined, President Trump’s immigration policies are dissuading international applicants, who tend to prefer two-year programmes, from chancing their luck at American business schools. Half of America’s schools reported a rise in international applications in 2016. Just a third did so this year.

America’s loss is the rest of the world’s gain. International candidates who would ordinarily have chosen a two-year course in the United States are flocking elsewhere. Neighbouring Canada is one beneficiary: three-quarters of schools said they had more applications from abroad this year. Schools in east and South-East Asia reported a boost in applications of 77% in 2017.

The United States is the dominant force in the world of management education, and a shift away from the 24-month course could be an augur of things to come worldwide. Two-thirds of all applications made are for full-time MBAs—which represent under a fifth of all courses that GMAC surveyed. And people can’t simply walk onto an MBA programme: 4.7 applicants are chasing every place in US business schools. The full-time MBA programme may be losing popularity in the United States, but these are still small chips in a mammoth edifice that shows no sign of collapsing yet. The death knell should not be sounded for the full-time MBA quite yet.

Readers' comments

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Lukasz79

What do MBA give you for its price? Network? Case study based clases? What else? Atmosphere? Self confidence?Where is the solid knowledge?

REYKJAVIK88

MERRY CHRISTMAS,

its because Americans bedame " cheap ".

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON/ UK

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