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Master's In Management Programs Gain Global Appeal

Business schools are adapting to a changing employment market by rolling out master's in management courses – designed to fast-track students into careers.

Sat Sep 20 2014

Richard Perrin is in high demand. The appetite for his master of management (MiM) course has seen the recruiter bombarded with applications from graduates seeking to bridge the gap between academia and corporate life.

Demand for MiM programs is gaining ground with the level of interest in the MBA, the flagship business school program. At EDHEC Business Schoolapplications for the MiM have shot up by 30% in the past three years.

While these degrees have flourished in Europe over the past decade, such market domination means that demand in the region has begun to plateau.

Instead Richard, executive director of admissions at the French business school, says demand is coming mostly from foreign markets, many of them emerging.

“The most dynamic markets for the MiM degree are China, the Middle East, Russia and India. Western Europe is clearly slowing down,” Richard says.

There is increasing demand in untapped education markets such as South America and Africa – but demand in the US, the most popular location for the MBA, is also beginning to increase.

A cadre of the country’s leading business schools including the Kellogg School of Management and Michigan Ross Business School are rolling out MiM programs to capitalize on a younger demographic (see below).

“The demand for business education by students that do not yet have work experience has been growing for several years,” says Amy K. Dittmar, associate dean for specialty masters programs at Michigan Ross.

“US schools are launching programs now in response to this demand,” Amy says.

Wake Forest University, one of the first schools to offer a MiM in the US, admitted its largest class this year – 143 students – and plans to expand.

“We really opened up a market that hasn’t been served as much,” says Mercy Eyadiel, executive director for employer relations at Wake Forest.

“Those with work experience go to MBA programs, but the market for pre-experience business degrees hasn’t been as evolved.”

MiM degrees are largely a European phenomenon – 70% are offered in Europe, according to Richard. “The MBA is still more [well] known among American HR managers than the MiM,” he says.

European business schools dominated the latest global MiM rankings, released earlier this week. No US schools made it into the top-70, although the degree gained some ground in India.

But there are concerns that the rise of MiM degrees – designed for candidates with little or no work experience, to fast-track them into careers – will negate the need for an MBA.

Several leading business schools contacted by BusinessBecause say very few of their MiM graduates will go on to complete MBAs.

Nick Sanders, program director of Grenoble Ecole de Management's MiM, says: “We are not aware of MiM students going onto MBAs later, unless they are late-term executive MBAs.”

He argues that MiM degrees create theoretical and best management practice, useful for work experience, which “logically negates” the need for MiM students to return to study MBAs. “They will inherently impact on [the] later-term necessity for MBAs,” Nick adds.

Grenoble’s Master in International Business, which costs up to €20,000 in fees, is ranked in the top-15 of the global MiM rankings. Nearly 90% of graduates are employed within three months, earning weighted salaries of about $56,000.

But one of the reasons for its slower adoption in the US is a perception that the value of the MiM is not understood by employers.

In response, a crop of business schools including IE of Spain have set up the International Masters in Management Association, to promote the degrees.

Several leading schools have also established joint ventures. MIT Sloan in the US runs a double-degree program with a number of partner schools including ESCP Europe, for example.

Amy admits that Michigan Ross has spent a lot of time talking to recruiters about the MiM course. But the school is able to draw on the links it has already established through its MBA and bachelor’s degrees. “We are already seeing wide interest by recruiters to interview our MiM students,” says Amy.

A master’s graduate who works at a leading Dutch electronics firm says: “My manager did his Exec MBA in France... He is convinced that the [MiM] is delivering great value – exactly why he wanted people from [MiMs] to take up the roles advertised.”

At the Sauder School of Business, based in Canada, students are typically recruited into the finance and consulting sectors, among others, according to recruitment director Laura Rojo. Its Master of Management program graduates 84% of its students into employment within three months, who earn about $48,000 in salary.

Olaya García-Lancha of ESADE Business School believes MiM courses are a bridge between a bachelor’s degree and the corporate world. “[They] offer a professional focus, as well as deeper knowledge, greater job prospects, and a unique set of professional skills.”

The Spanish school’s MSc in International Management, which costs about €25,000, sees 97% of graduates employed within three months with $66,000 salaries.

“The MiM programme is an investment,” adds Olaya, executive director of Master of Science programs.

Although fledgling when compared with the MBA, the MiM is part of business schools’ efforts to evolve in a rapidly changing employment market.

“The BSc is no longer enough. [Students] need, increasingly, to now [get] a master’s to get the best junior management access,” says Mark. He adds that management-calibre students are being more selective about which functions and sectors they wish to enter. “MiMs provide valuable exposure to a wider range of career paths.”

He says that Grenoble sees internships as increasingly relevant. According to a Financial Times survey of MiM graduates, 72% completed an internship and 64% received a job offer as a result, with just over 50% accepting those offers.

Graduates could go straight into the jobs market. But as the financial crisis has made it more difficult for companies to invest in employee education, employers rely on job seekers to develop their own skills, according to Richard.

“The demand for young international talents with [a] top master’s degree has increased over the past few decades,” he says. EDHEC students are typically recruited for graduate schemes at banks and consultancies.

For Olaya, global employers increasingly see the value of ESADE’s MiM students. “European employers certainly do, and non-European employers are seeing more and more value in the degree,” she says.

Wake Forest is one of the early American adopters of management master's degrees. The North Carolina-based business school has grown its cohort from 13 students in 2006 to nearly 150 in 2014.

In the US, the financial crisis has forced a shift towards the MiM, as younger graduates reassess the value of taking two years off work to earn an MBA, which is seen as less attractive.

“MiM programs are shorter, allow students to enter or return to work sooner, and provide [the] business skills [that] employers are looking for, which makes the MiM an attractive alternative,” says Derrick Boone, associate dean for Wake's Master of Arts in Management program.

Recruiter demand for liberal arts students with solid business knowledge in particular is spurring the trend. “MiM programs are at the intersection of student and employer needs,” says Derrick. “Wake Forest saw this need early on.”

These younger students do consider cost – although MiMs are cheaper than MBAs – but Derrick says it gives them a competitive edge in the jobs market.

“The payback is a more challenging, rewarding and lucrative career than would be available with the student’s undergraduate degree alone,” says Amy from Michigan Ross.

“We find that students understand this is an investment.”