Decline in MBA applications accelerates…

Schools pressured to innovate programs and tighten cost belts.


According to data collected by the WSJ

Applications to American M.B.A. programs fell for the fifth straight year … down by 9.1% last year to just over 135,000.

Elite schools — except for Chicago (my alma mater) – are experiencing declines and being forced to dig deeper into their still formidable pile of applications … i.e. increase their acceptance rates.


What’s going on?


The WSJ offers a couple of explanations…

Most notably, “shifts in U.S. immigration policy, trade and political tensions with China” has caused a precipitous decline in international applicants who perceive the U.S. to be “an unwelcoming environment”.

Note: International students  were traditionally “cash cows” for MBA schools since students (i.e. sponsoring companies) would pay full fare and would be light users of services (e.g. career placement)

Specifically, “China still sends more business-school students abroad than any other country, but more of its students are choosing schools within Asia, where programs have proliferated.”

Also contributing to the trend …

Debt-laden students are reluctant to bet the ranch by signing up for pricey MBA degrees that may not have the sure-fire pay-offs that they used to offer.

For example, the WSJ cites “the growing attractiveness of technology-industry jobs that don’t require M.B.A. degrees”.

What the WSJ doesn’t mention is the drumbeat of anti-capitalism, anti-business sentiment that’s sweeping the political landscape with wall-to-wall coverage in the MSM.

That’s gotta take a toll.


So, how are schools responding to the changes?

By offering steeper discounts from list price (i.e. scholarships), by broadening and intensifying outreach recruiting, and by offering more specialized programs (say, in data analytics).

Bottom line: The elite schools will survive and thrive, albeit with some curriculum adjustments and belt-tightening … cheap alternatives (e.g. online programs) will have niche … but, lesser ranked regional schools will be under severe pressure.

We’ll see…


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One Response to “Decline in MBA applications accelerates…”

  1. Ben Saliper Says:

    Ivy league schools looked down on business courses so the original MBAs had one year of remedial undergraduate remedial courses then two semesters of one major each. Before that you had to take the undergrad courses then get a regular research masters or a five course certificate. But ever since the AACSB opened the floodgates, degree mills shave turned the MBA into an elementary school vocabulary lesson

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