Thursday, October 9, 2014

What does the future hold for full-time MBAs outside the top 20?

In an interview with P&Q, outgoing Pitt dean John Delaney thinks the future will not be pretty.   He sees a lot of programs with 60 or fewer students total and questions their ability to survive.  The applicant pool keeps getting smaller and younger.  Many of these schools are offering financial aid to most (and in a few cases, ALL) of their full-timers.   Those that do not have a generous alumni base or a successful exec ed revenue stream will have trouble maintaining this level of aid support.

Tough question: what will determine which programs fold and which prosper?  I see three factors:
#1) Location: Some very good universities are located in very remote areas.  This is a hindrance for an MBA program where networking with the business community is a key element of the degree's ROI.
#2) Differentiation: All too many MBA programs are clones of each other.  Could you tell the difference between the Georgetown and Georgia MBA programs if you just looked at the list of courses and requirements?
#3) Experiential learning: Programs that focus on textbooks and historical cases will lose market share to those where students work in teams that consult with real companies on live cases.  The students with hands-on experience will be better trained and will have better networking opportunities.

NC State's Jenkins MBA is well-positioned on all three fronts.  We are located in one of the best places to live and work in the country.  We have followed a differentiation strategy focusing on innovation.  And the program is extremely experiential, perhaps more so than any other program in the country.  Maybe that is why we are rising in the rankings and enrollment numbers for 2015 are looking very, very good?

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