King’s Business School in London offers a wide array of undergraduate, post-graduate, and executive education programs. But trawling through the glossy pages of the school’s brochures, there’s one glaring omission: there’s no MBA degree in sight.
Instead, King’s offers a suite of specialized masters degrees—shorter, more affordable, more concentrated post-graduate management courses. King’s launched its Master’s in International Management as its closest alternative to a traditional MBA.
The school’s dean, Stephen Bach, says the decision was taken in response to employer demand. “The MBA market is changing,” Stephen explains. “Employers and students tell us that the appetite for MBAs has softened.
“Hiring trends are moving towards earlier career graduates with strong analytical and inter-personal skills, an entrepreneurial mindset, and a well-developed sense of personal responsibility and resilience.”
Specialized master’s programs are eating into the MBA market. Emerging program types—masters in management, masters in finance, masters in business analytics, marketing, and entrepreneurship—have seen a surge of interest.
While the MBA remains the number one graduate management degree sought by prospective students, now, according to the latest research from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), nearly half of business school applicants consider a business master’s program alongside an MBA.
The University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business offers eight specialized masters programs, across topics like business and marketing analytics, as well as finance, accounting, and supply chain management.
Five of those are STEM-designated, meaning international students can stay and find work in the US without an H-1B visa. On Smith’s STEM-designated Master of Science in Business Analytics, students dive into the technical—going beyond what would be covered on a traditional MBA—learning programming languages like Python and SQL.
Smith runs it business master’s programs alongside a thriving full-time MBA, but the University of Leicester School of Business in the UK decided to shelve its full-time MBA program completely. Leicester offers a blended-learning MBA alongside a host of specialized master’s.
“You just don’t get the numbers [for an MBA] anymore,” says former dean Zoe Radnor. “A huge part of an MBA is about building your network and, if you haven’t got the numbers, you’re not going to be able to do that. Specialized or good conversion masters are where the market is going.”
At Dublin City University Business School, executive dean Anne Sinnott is targeting the MBA market with an MSc in Business Management. She’s seen overall postgraduate applications to the school double in the past years, with the management master’s recording the biggest growth in applications.
“If you look at the global numbers of MBAs, they’re declining,” she says. “I think an MBA...
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