Partner Sites

Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice
mobile search icon

7 Trends That Will Shape Business Education In 2018, According To Top Deans

What will 2018 herald? Leading academic thinkers share their predictions, including for gender equality and technology

Mon Jan 15 2018

BusinessBecause’s foretellers had a stellar 2017. All six conjectures came true, or continued to become true. 

Some stand out. Judy Olian, dean of UCLA Anderson School of Management, was oracular in calling the closure of full-time MBAs (Tippie and King’s rejected the degree; Wisconsin nearly did). Ross School of Business dean Scott DeRue, was prescient in predicting the explosion of experiential learning. And Idalene Kesner of Indiana’s Kelley School of Business was right about the growth of specialized masters programs, which outstripped the growth of MBAs.

However, they missed the huge and in some cases obvious trends: Donald Trump’s immigrant rhetoric unsettling international students; the Brexit brain drain, with faculty fleeing the UK; the rise of shorter programs, powering application growth in Europe, Canada, and Asia. 

What will 2018 herald? Each forecast below is what leading thinkers believe are the key issues facing business education and how syllabi, teaching models, and careers will change in the year ahead. You heard it here first. For a shot at glory, post your own prognostication in the comments box.


The Gender Gap Will Close… Eventually

In 2018, business...

s will spur progress on gender issues, keeping gender on the business agenda, advancing solutions, and improving accountability. The World Economic Forum estimates that at current pace, closing the gender pay gap will take more than 100 years. This is not acceptable. Business schools will show the way, leveraging the research of their faculty to affect change. At LBS, many on our faculty have written on gender issues. We will continue to contribute to progress by learning from our own research, thereby improving.

François Ortalo-Magné, dean of London Business School

Inclusiveness, especially in the form of women’s equality, will play a large role in society and in business education in 2018. This will be fuelled by a growing public awareness of the many facets of inequality, such as women’s overrepresentation in part-time and low-paying jobs, and underrepresentation in management positions. In the coming year, business schools will focus on the need for structural change in business in order to foster increased female participation.

Jörg Rocholl, president, ESMT Berlin


Machines Will March

Relevance will be a key word for business education in 2018. We have to find ways to make sure we are producing the kinds of graduates the world needs today. That means continuing to refine the curriculum based on industry needs, with focuses on areas like data analytics, plus technology like artificial intelligence, or applications of blockchain. My hope is that in 2018, business schools will also pay more attention to the ethics behind tech innovation. We can’t lose the human element in technological advances, or we risk losing the values that anchor our lives. For example, our students need to think hard about the balance between rule-based algorithms, and human judgment.  

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

There Will Be Digital Disruption

Business education will continue evolving much like the music industry. Today, we can buy and consume single tracks from iTunes at a much lower cost than buying a full album. We also have the option to stream. Likewise, students can get high-quality content from the world’s top business schools for free. We’re seeing increased interest in specialized degrees and certificates, as well as online courses that allow students to consume content when, and wherever they may be. Business schools that adapt to these new delivery models, and provide the high-quality content students want, are those that will thrive in 2018.

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


Education Will Become Virtual

Academic institutions will increasingly use virtual reality to improve their leadership, and management skills training. One excellent example is the development of public speaking skills. We can already find VR simulators in the market that allow students to practice public speaking in front of a large, but virtual crowd. VR hence offers students the benefit of being able to practice public speaking in settings that are difficult to simulate in a traditional classroom. Also, they can practice over and over again until they perfect this skill.

Martin Boehm, IE Business School dean

Courses Will Focus On Ambiguity

Last year really brought home the need for business leaders to better prepare for, and grapple with, uncertainty. While courses on geopolitics and strategy have risen, this trend will only expand in 2018. At the same time, there will also be more focus on adapting training to the future of work, and the management and ethical challenges thrown up by the gig economy, and the rise of AI. As most of us will be living and working longer, the value of continuous education will be more apparent than ever. There will also be more emphasis on transferable skills, which make it easier to be adaptable in uncertain times.

Franz Heukamp, dean of IESE Business School


We Will Consider Our Impact On Society

2017’s dramatic political events have caused a reset for students and thus for schools, professors, and employers. With an eye to preparing students to contribute to a more open and fair society, expect to see schools place a greater emphasis on all things digital, global, and entrepreneurial. Professors across all disciplines will seek to address the role of business in our society. Employers struggling to make sense of recent events and looking to an uncertain future will demand more than expertise; they will select for maturity, wisdom, and a fresh perspective. Students yearning for a better world have found their voice. Expect them to make it heard and felt.

Seán Meehan, dean of the IMD MBA

We Will Collaborate More With Corporations

Academia has fallen way behind industry in many sectors such as fintech and e-marketing. One anticipates management schools collaborating with industry leaders to develop educational and learning programs. This is already happening in Europe, where companies and universities share labs, faculty, and research to support application-driven education. More educational programs which bring together corporate, government, and academia to develop solutions to better manage complexities in dynamic but regulated marketplaces will emerge. Relatedly, with an ever-increasing rate of information and development of new knowledge, we can look forward to“just-in-time” education taught in “bite-size” modules — often online.

Rajendra Srivastava, dean of the Indian School of Business

Student Reviews

Duke University Fuqua School of Business




On Campus

Supportive atmosphere

The professors at Duke university exhibit exceptional commitment to the success and well-being of their students by ensuring their academic growth and fostering a supportive social atmosphere. Moreover, the entire community is recognized for its amicability and inclusiveness.




On Campus


The people or the students are without a doubt Duke's greatest asset. While all students are driven to succeed, they are also enthusiastic about a variety of hobbies. You run across a huge lot of diversity. It is the ideal example of a school with well-rounded students and the ideal balance of campus life in a metropolis.




On Campus

Happy to school

All I could ever hope for is Duke University. That really epitomizes the "work hard, play hard" philosophy that elite colleges frequently pursue. Even though you'll have a lot of schooling to complete over the week, it's simple to keep focused because all of your friends are putting in similar amounts of effort. Many events taking place on and around campus on the weekends provide a great way to unwind. The combination of demanding academics and traditional college fun strikes the perfect balance.




On Campus

Good schooling

Living, eating, learning, and developing who you want to be as an adult are all fantastic at Duke. I participated in student athletics, and I couldn't have asked for a better interaction with the faculty and other students. I appreciate all of the help I get from the Duke community more than anything. Furthermore, the teachers take the time to get to know you, and the lectures are diverse and demanding (if you do the same). I'd give it a 10 out of 10.




On Campus

Beautiful School, Nice Classes

DU remains one the greatest and best universities that I have ever stepped in. The school is beautiful and neat. The classes are spacious and also very nice. I enjoyed attending my Lectures in those lecture halls. I also loved the Lecturers because of the good work they did. The university also has very good dorms that are given to students on first come first serve basis and they are affordable





Amazing experience

I received my B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Global Health with a minor in Chemistry from Duke University. I was able to grow as a student, scientist, and global health advocate with the help of my friends, professors, and other mentors I met along the way. A lot to learn if you look and ask, a great place to learn for those who want to learn.





whirlwind of growth and change

An amazing 2 years, with covid and everything else happening Duke has been a place of growth for me. The courses , classes were one of a kind, online and on campus. But the valuable lessons learned in the classes are irreplicable. The students are amazing here, so much diversity , I had no problem fitting in. The teachers are down right brilliant and so helpful. Don't be afraid to ask them anything. Graduated with my MBA with Duke and now my future awaits.




On Campus

One of the best for Business students

Graduated with an MBA. The classes were very insightful and engaging. The staff are very easy to deal with. The teachers and students, are truly amazing people. Grateful to all the people I've met along the way at Duke. I've learnt a great deal that will help me in my future endeavors. The campus itself is a marvel, it is beautiful.




On Campus

The university campus is awesome

I graduated with a masters degree in Religious Studies from Duke University. One thing I really liked about the university is its huge campus. It is spread in a large area with a lot of greenery and also have the facilities of reading rooms for single person also. My department building was very well taken care of. The library is immensely populated with books for all your needs. The faculty is very nice to students. The classes are equipped with latest technology to cater the needs of students. The University also provides room rentals for international students. They are very well maintained and priority is given to the International students for a comfortable stay there. There are weekly events conducted by the University as well as Student clubs for the entertainment of students. Anybody can take part in them and show their talents. I enjoyed my degree and I graduated in 2021 and was very happy that I had graduated from a reputed University.