The Business Degree Market is Changing. Is an MBA Still the

by Vault Education Editors | November 23, 2010

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After a 30-year reign, the full-time MBA degree is no longer the almighty king of business school degrees. "Is the MBA Worth it?" asks the WSJ today. As we discussed here before, the increasing demand for the Executive MBA, the online and part-time MBA, the masters in management and other earn-while-you-learn alternatives means that no, for some people, in a recession, full-time MBAs are not worth it. The growing popularity of these flexible programs has atomized the marketplace sparking a need for innovation.

Actually, it's a lot like the handbag market, wouldn't you say, Professor Santiago Iniquez, dean of Instituto de Empresa?

In the past, there used to be high-end expensive bags that commanded a premium that locked out lesser mortals and those at the lower end of the market that most people would purchase. But high-end manufacturers invented diffusion ranges that offered branded goods for a broader range of consumers at various price points. [Paraphrased in WSJ]

The growth in flexible business programs doesn't, however, indicate that full-time MBA programs have degraded in quality. It is still considered the most respectable of the business degrees, preferred by recruiters and employers. The full-time two-year MBA program offers the most comprehensive and generalist education along with scads of opportunities to network with abandon. But it's clear that, these days, leaving your job for two years when jobs are scarce and salaries flat is a risk that isn't for everyone.

That's why schools can't hold onto only promoting the one-size-fits-all model, because the traditional degree doesn't satisfy the needs of the new prospective b-school student anymore—a natural change in the lifecycle of a product or good. Whereas once there was a typical MBA candidate, now there's not. No experience? That's okay, get a master's in management (MiM). Already have 10 years experience, kids and a job you don't want to risk leaving right now? Then maybe the EMBA is your degree. Need more specialized management experience? Well, there's a degree for that, too.

Deciding between an MBA and one of the other business degrees is really just a matter of assessing your state of affairs—personal, financial and career-related—and knowing if the risk is worth the reward. The bigger the risk, the bigger the potential reward and loss.  

 

Related: Everyone Wants an MBA, They Just Don't Want to Leave Their Jobs to Get One

Filed Under: Education

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