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Evolution or Revolution – the Future of the MBA?

For the first time ever, the full time one-year MBA is a more popular choice with students than the two-year degree, according to the seventh edition of the Tomorrow’s MBA study from CarringtonCrisp, which was run for the seventh time in association with EFMD.

The global study, conducted amongst 1,463 students from 75 countries, reveals that 27% prefer a full time one-year programme over a full-time two-year programme (25%).

However there are differences when we compare applicants’ preferences from certain countries. Whilst students in countries including UK, Canada and Nigeria favoured the one-year option, those from Germany, India, Indonesia and the US, amongst others favoured the two-year version.

Andrew Crisp, author of the study comments: “Globally, there are a number of reasons the one-year full-time MBA is growing in popularity. Careers and employment are changing rapidly, so students want to acquire new skills and achieve a return on their investment quickly. There is also perhaps the wider societal change with an interest in instant gratification.”

Interestingly, the combined percentage of respondents who prefer part-time (16%), online (19%) or blended (5%) study exceed the total of either full-time option, so there is a necessity and an opportinity brought by new technologies and new delivery models.

The study looks at multiple student views on MBAs including motivations for studying, which programme content is most valuable, financing an MBA, the role of faculty and attitudes to rankings.

The study examined respondents’ motivations to study an MBA. The four most popular reasons were improving employability (32%), improving earning potential (28%), pursuing an international career (26%) and had planned to study as part of personnel development (25%).

A quarter (25%) up from 20% in the previous study relayed it was to help them start a business. Entrepreneurship featured in other aspects of the study. It is one of the top three choices for a specialist MBA (11%), alongside IT (14%) and Finance (12%).

The value of entrepreneurship as MBA content has increased from 5th most important in the previous study to 3rd, only behind strategy and leadership. Technology management (15%) has risen significantly in terms of its value, having previously been chosen by only 9%.

As part of the study, respondents were asked about the financing of an MBA. Just over half (51%) responded that they would only study for an MBA if they received a scholarship, 54% if they could get a loan to cover some of the costs, and 42% if their employers covered some of the costs.

Related to this, respondents relayed what factors would encourage them to pay more for their studies. The top four responses were high quality teaching staff (46%), a school attracting top employers (38%), better career services (38%) and a higher ranking (36%). Conversely the factors least likely to attract higher fees were stronger alumni networks (18%) and more frequent contact with faculty (14%).

Whilst there were few noticeable differences amongst national groups on what would encourage higher fees, 40% of male respondents indicated they would pay more for a higher ranked school, compared to only 31% of female respondents.

Andrew Crisp concludes, “The MBA market becomes more diverse every year, whether it’s content, specialisation, delivery or programme length. Business schools need a clear MBA strategy – what part of the market do they want, because they can’t be all things to all men and women, and all nationalities.”

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To find out more about some of the key findings in this year’s report, you can read the launch blog on the CarringtonCrisp website or contact Toby Roe for press.

To be part of the next round of the Tomorrow’s MBA study, running from early November 2018, please contact info@carringtoncrisp.com.

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