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Nearly Half Of Students Want To Study Diversity On Their Business Master’s

A recent business master’s survey has revealed that diversity and equality is the most in-demand topic for students when choosing their degrees at business school

Wed Jul 10 2024

Diversity-related content is the most popular “must-have” for prospective master’s students aiming to study at business school, according to a new survey conducted by CarringtonCrisp in partnership with EMFD.

The Tomorrow's Masters report, which reached out to 1,596 prospective Master’s student across 28 countries, asked respondents to reveal what subjects they were prioritizing in their desired business courses.

A significant 46% said that Diversity and Equality is the most important topic that can feature on a b-school curriculum, followed by Responsible Management (40%), and Global Challenges (33%). 

The survey also went deeper into the specific subjects students want to study. Investment and banking came out on top, with 35% of respondents selecting it as their number one option.

This falls in line with current GMAC data, which indicates that Master’s in Finance degrees are the most popular among prospective students.  

Other prominent subjects included Business Forecasting and Modelling, Market Research, Business and IT, and Digital Marketing, all of which were highlighted by more than a quarter of those surveyed. 

Interestingly, AI and Business also featured highly, chosen by 25% of students a desired subject in their master’s.

Other high-ranked subjects include traditional areas of study such as Finance, Marketing, and Management Consulting.

Out of sustainability-related topics, renewable energy was the most cited, with 18% putting it as a desired subject. 

“While it may appear that ESG topics are less popular that is not the case. Most students want this content to flow throughout a Master’s program as can be seen from the demand for Diversity and Equality and Responsible Management. It’s a smaller but significant number of respondents that want to focus and become specialists in areas such as Environmental Management,” explained Andrew Crisp, the author of the survey. 

Although not highly rated in this year’s survey, two emerging topics appear to be E-sports (12%) and Space and Satellite Industries (8%). 

The rising interest in satellite industries is projected in part due to the advances being made by many major global economies in the realm of space, including the US, India, China, and Japan.

What is the main motivation for students studying a master’s?

The survey revealed that the principal concern of tomorrow’s students is the practical applications of their degree. 

A third of prospective students said that learning new skills was their main motivation for pursuing a master’s, while 30% stated the desire to increase their earning potential, and 25% wanted to improve their employability. 

However, just over a fifth (22%) of students said they were prioritizing an international experience and 19% said that they wished to study outside of their home country, indicating that future students are also concerned with travelling during their degree.

Similarly, 22% of students also indicated a desire to start their own business, and an equal proportion said they wished to build their network while at b-school. 

How do students feel about AI on their business master’s?

Students aren’t just interested in learning about AI, the survey also uncovered that many plan to use the technology during their degree. 

Nearly six in ten (59%) respondents agreed that they expect to use AI tools, such as Chat GPT, to complete projects during their studies. 

An even greater proportion (62%) believed that AI tools are making exams redundant, meaning new forms of assessment should be developed.

Close to two-thirds of prospective students also said that the use of AI in their assignments should not be considered cheating. 

However, the overwhelming enthusiasm for AI does not come without its trepidations. A decisive 67% of students agreed that AI can't replace the creativity required in good quality teaching.

The majority also called for transparency over its use in the classroom, with 68% saying that AI generated content should be clearly labelled. 

Would students rather study in person or online?

Despite the trend towards remote work across industries post-pandemic, the vast majority (64%) of respondents indicated a preference for in-person study. 

However, just 44% said that they wanted to study full-time on campus, with the remaining 20% preferring to be on campus part-time. 

A smaller, but significant, proportion (24%) said they preferred a blended study model, which combines face-to-face teaching with online classes. Just 10% opted for fully online learning.

Among those who chose online learning, there was a high degree of variability in how they wanted classes to be conducted. 

The majority (56%) said they preferred a hybrid delivery mode of both synchronous and self-directed study. 

The remainder of those preferring to study online were almost evenly split. In total, 23% said they would prefer for their learning to be totally self-directed, and 21% responded that they would rather a fully synchronous model, where all students must be present online for the same online sessions.