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6 Trends That Will Change Business Education In 2017 — According To Deans

Deans’ well-informed predictions about the topics that will shape business education in 2017

Tue Jan 24 2017

Our Deans were more right than wrong about 2016 — one-year degree programs proliferated; technology swept through campus, enhancing the classroom experience; consulting firms muscled into the business education market.

Some predictions stand out. Andrea Masini at HEC Paris was prescient on the divide between top-tier and second-run business schools; Ivan Bofarull at ESADE Business School nailed the transferability of online course credits with campus-based degree programs.

But they missed the big ones. The election to the US presidency of Donald Trump, Brexit and the rhetoric surrounding immigration mean universities face turbulence and uncertainty on an unprecedented scale in 2017.

Some might argue then that predictions are a waste of breath. Perhaps. But there is value in our annual forecasts. Each conjecture below is what a seasoned academic thinks are the pivotal issues for the year ahead, and how they will impact their institutions, for better or for worse. Those that disagree can have a go at their own prognostications in our comments box.

There Will Be Digital Disruption

In 2017, there will be more blended learning and more flipped classrooms. The way young people, the Millennials, are learning is changing. Innovation is crucial. We have to change the way we are educating students. And the role of the professor in the classroom has to change with it. Digital platforms are very important, but students also need to be together in a classroom in order to be challenged by the professors and each other. The classroom is where they capture the value of diversity.

Eugenia Bieto, Director-General, ESADE Business School


Learning Will Become Experiential

We can expect to see the expansion, and even next generation of experiential learning. In 2017, we will be building new action-based learning programs that position the school on the leading edge of innovation in education. This is where the real point of differentiation among business schools will take place. Finally, I expect more schools to introduce fully online degrees and expand the number of non-degree certificate programs offered online. It's time we stop asking if online education will happen; it has happened. Online education will enhance the in-person, residential experience for students on-campus, with access course materials online that accelerate the learning-by-doing model.”

Scott DeRue, Dean, University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business

Courses Will Be Tailored To Individual Needs

First digital learning. This is really exciting, giving the opportunity for us to do so much before, during and after a program. But increasing experience around the world shows there are real issues of learning quality, if digital is simply substituted for personal interactive experience. 2017 will see a more sophisticated approach to what is possible and desirable. Second, flexibility. Programs will need to be better tailored to individual needs while maintaining program coherence. Here at LBS, we have introduced more ways of meeting individual needs on our MBA through course length, specialization and content. 

Andrew Likierman, Dean, London Business School

MBA Programs Will Shut Their Doors

With massive changes in the drivers of business growth, in how consumers behave, and in digital technologies and information, business education is transforming. Some schools won’t or can’t change, and we’ll see more business schools shrink or shutter their full-time MBA programs. Some will invest elsewhere to become more relevant to the lifelong needs of learners — through specialized master’s degrees, certificate programs, or short targeted courses. More of these offerings will be delivered online or in hybrid formats in response to students’ needs and constraints at different career stages. Action learning, to enable immediate application of concepts, will become even more critical. 

Judy Olian, Dean, UCLA Anderson School of Management


Degrees Will Become Specialized

We’ll continue to see a trend toward more specialized MBA degrees like the Kelley School's MBA for Educators and our Business of Medicine MBA. The career climate is increasingly entrepreneurial, and professionals in disciplines that once were not thought of in the traditional business sense are looking for ways to operate more efficiently and get ahead of the competition. Really, everything is a business — from a single freelance musician to a medium-sized non-profit to a large medical practice. A good business foundation, the ability to navigate change and other business tools can be valuable for anyone trying to earn a living.

Idalene “Idie” Kesner, Dean of the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University

Big Data Will Get Bigger

Data analytics is becoming increasingly important. Some schools are launching programs to try and meet demand for people who can sort through massive amounts of data to identify key insights. I’m excited we’ll welcome our first class in our Master of Quantitative Management program in July. These students will be training in not only how to interpret big data, but how to communicate key findings to shape business functions, strategy and operations.

Bill Boulding, Dean, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business