High-flying business school candidates are increasingly choosing cheaper, shorter, specialized programs over MBA degrees — although some are getting MBAs later in their careers.
MBAs run for two years and cost over $100,000 at a top college such as Harvard Business School. Specialized programs are often half the length and significantly cheaper, plus they teach a similar set of leadership and technical skills. The Master in Management has emerged as one of the fastest-growing, and by some measures that growth outstrips demand for the full-time MBA.
According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, 58% of MiM programs in Europe — where the vast majority are based — reported application rises in 2016. Comparatively, the popularity of the MBA is waning, with only 43% of full-time, two-year programs growing their applications last year.
In addition, two-thirds of 1,000 prospective business school candidates surveyed by CarringtonCrisp say they will apply to MiM courses, rather than MBAs. Nearly half reckon the MiM is just as valuable as an MBA.
The MBA course at ESSEC Business School costs €45,000 in tuition, compared with €33,000 for the French school’s MiM program, although MBAs earn more upon graduation. Still, a MiM can generally be completed more quickly than two-year MBAs — the return on investment is faster.
“Millennials are saying they don’t want to spend money on an MBA,” said Roland Siegers, executive director of CEMS, a global alliance comprising 30 of the world’s most prestigious business schools offering MiMs.
The growth in MiMs comes as some business schools are shuttering their flagship MBA programs. Iowa’s Tippie College of Business said last month it would abandon its full-time MBA and instead focus on specialized master’s degrees, such as its MSc in business analytics. Annual student enrolment in its MBA has fallen from 140 to 100 over the past six years. Yet graduate enrolment in its analytics master’s course has grown over 500% in three years.
Many of the very best business schools are rolling out MiMs, which have so far been confined largely to business schools in Europe. Cornell University’s College of Business plans to launch a 12-month Masters in Management degree in 2017.
However, Julien Manteau, director of strategy and global development at HEC Paris, denied that the growth of the MiM could cannibalize the MBA. He said that when one program grows, its beneficial to a business school’s entire portfolio, because it “enriches the brand”.
Sangeet Chowfla, chief executive of GMAC, said that a business master’s degree is not necessarily the end of a graduate’s business education. “For many, it is a stepping stone to continued professional development that may include an MBA down the road,” he said.