An Overview of Recent Enrollment Declines in MBA Programs

MBA Programs pic
MBA Programs
Image: poetsandquants.com

Dr. Antonios (Tony) Antoniou received his BA in economics from Sunderland University and his MSC in accounting and finance from the London School of Economics. Dr. Antoniou also holds a PhD in applied economics. An experienced professor of finance and economics, Dr. Antonios Antoniou stays informed on all the latest academic business trends.

In the past, a master of business administration, more commonly referred to as an MBA, represented a laudable academic achievement. More recently, however, employers’ interest in the degree has fallen, a trend either reflected or influenced by an enrollment decrease in MBA programs.

The MBA’s decline may extend as far back as 1985 when an article in The Wall Street Journal noted that as many as one in four of the nation’s 600 business schools might be forced to shut down due to diminishing enrollment. Eight years later, The New York Times published a similar article, this time specifically calling into question the professional value of the MBA.

By 2005, the trend had reached the nation’s most prominent and respected business institutions. A Businessweek article found that each of the magazine’s top-30 MBA programs experienced a minimum enrollment decline of 30 percent over the previous seven years, with some falling at a rate of 50 percent or higher.

Speaking to The Economist in 2016, experienced staffing and recruiting professional Debbie Goodman-Bhyat determined that, from an employer’s perspective, the MBA has essentially fallen to the level of a bachelor’s degree. Thousands of MBA or equivalent programs are available to students around the world, leaving employees to dig deeper when searching for talent.

Furthermore, the abundance of MBA programs has led to questionable quality. A study in India found that of the 5,500 Indian business students graduating each year, only 7 percent are considered employable because of their schools’ poor faculties and inferior facilities.

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