Is It Game Over For 2-Year MBA In The US?


MBA programs have been on the rise ever since Harvard Graduate School of Business established the world’s first specialised business studies course way back in 1908. Of late, MBA, especially the full time 2-year program, seems to have lost some of its lustre. However, the story is far from being over.

With the rise of the market economy and a globalising world, the value of MBA was going up by leaps and bounds. In 2003, alumni from 82% of the schools in the FT Global MBA Rankings reported at least 120% salary increase within five years of graduation.

However, by January 2015, only 7% reported the same income boost. According to current trends, the popularity of 2-year MBA programs among the youth in the US was on the decline, except for the top ranked schools.

Meanwhile, the proportion of international students in US business schools is on the rise. The number of US citizens appearing for the GMAT, dropped by a third from the 2010 to 2015 testing years.

During the same period the number of candidates from other countries taking the test rose almost 19%. International candidates accounted for 58% of the applicant pool at full-time MBA programs in the US in 2015.

The increase in the proportion of international students is also the result of the efforts of the 700-odd business schools to step up recruitment abroad.

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University of Rochester’s Simon Business School’s MBA tour covered cities across the globe including Buenos Aires, Cairo, Taipei, and Istanbul. About half of the 98 full-time MBA students in the class of 2017 are from abroad. It has also introduced loans that do not require co-signers for international students in its full-time MBA program besides strengthening its career services to help foreign graduates find jobs. It also cut its tuition by almost 14%.

Apart from the business schools, lending agencies are also wooing international students. London-based Prodigy Finance, had expanded its operations to the US in 2014 and is seeing huge growth. It lent about $100 million last year, half of it to foreign students at about 45 top-ranked business schools.

While some of the schools like Wake Forest University School of Business has changed over to flexible programs instead of the full time MBA, others are introducing 1-year programs, special on-line courses  and Masters degrees to meet the changing market needs.

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On-line MBA courses have also become popular enough to merit the U.S. News & World Report Ranking to introduce a Best Online MBA Programs category in January 2015.

Meanwhile, AACSB International, in a survey of 265 business schools, found enrolment in US MBA programs down by 11% since 2009. However, Tom Robinson, AACSB’s president and CEO, says this could be a pointer to a shift towards specialty masters degrees.

For MBA aspirants, it continues to be a win-win situation, provided they make informed choices on the type of programs they want to pursue, experts say. (Image Courtesy :


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