The Tomorrow's MBA study, launched by CarringtonCrisp in association with EFMD, found AI is now tied with with Business and Financial Environment as the number one topic students are looking for in any MBA degree.
The survey of 1,658 prospective students across 30 countries quizzed students on the top 30 pieces of content on an MBA syllabus, with both subjects taking 31% of the vote.
The benefits of skills in AI
With companies rapidly adopting AI amid high-profile technological innovations such as ChatGPT, advanced skills in the field will elevate your employability and make you an asset in the workforce.
To attract candidates and prepare students for the modern workplace, business schools must continue adopting innovative technologies and evolving their curriculums, the study reveals.
"The rise of AI content is a direct reaction to the rapid impact of this technology in recent months. It has to be a fundamental part of any business school's curriculum," said Andrew Crisp, author of the study.
Climate change enters the top 10 for the first time
Along with AI, growing concern about climate change is reflected in its appearance in the top 10 for the first time. Sustainability took the eighth spot, with 16% of the vote.
"While sustainability has been on the agenda of many schools for a number of years, it is now being widely added into degrees. Students recognize the ever-pressing need to tackle climate change and the work of many employers to address this issue, driving schools to make it an integral part of an MBA education," Andrew said.
Other topics in high demand are Business Law (25%), Corporate Finance (23%), and Data Analytics & Decision Making (20%).
Going from local to global
The Tomorrow's MBA study found considerable desire for international study among prospective MBA students. Nearly half (46%) relayed that their preferred business school is outside their home country.
Despite this desire, restrictions are still impacting the ability to study internationally. Among respondents, 43% said they cannot leave their job, 34% can't travel internationally due to personal circumstances, and another 34% cannot afford to study abroad.
Blending learning options which don't require full-time study overseas are increasingly popular, with 28% of respondents listing it as key. Despite this popularity, full-time on-campus study remains the most popular format for MBA study.
The impact of COVID-19
As we hit the third anniversary of the coronavirus pandemic, its impact continues to show both positively and negatively for MBAs.
While two-thirds of prospective students agree that 'the pandemic has made me more likely to pursue an MBA,' 60% are now considering study options other than an MBA to support their career.
This reflects the growing popularity of other study routes, including specialist master's or short courses focused on specific career needs.
"The current MBA market is an interesting challenge for business schools. On the one hand, student demands around topics are changing quickly. On the other hand, there are more and more alternative learning opportunities.
"The keyword for business schools is imagination, thinking about how the world is changing, regularly reviewing their curriculum, offering flexible delivery, and creating MBAs for tomorrow," Andrew said.