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Top Full-Time MBA Program Closes As Distance Learning Gains Traction

A high-ranking US business school has closed its traditional full-time MBA program to focus on flexible courses which use distance learning.

One of the first high ranking business schools has shut the door on its full-time MBA to adapt to a business education market that is evolving to offer flexible and distance learning.

Wake Forest University School of Business will no longer enrol students into its daytime two-year MBA program and will instead focus resources on its flexible MBA courses, which are taught in the evenings and at weekends, and which uses distance learning.

The education industry faces competition from learning technology groups and the privision of online business education is increasing.

Charles Iacovou, dean of the business school, said: “We must be nimble and innovative in how we educate our students today. Business models are evolving more rapidly than ever and business education must innovate."

The closure comes at a time when distance learning companies such as Coursera and edX are rolling out more vocational business Moocs – massive open online courses – which offer similar part-time study, and which they are monetizing by selling certificates.

Some people believe that distance learning will eventually kill off the traditional MBA but so far they do not offer a credible alternative to a degree program, business schools argue.

Most top-ranking schools have rolled out flexible programs, which have the advantage of allowing participants to maintain full-time jobs and study in their spare time. Many of them incorporate distance learning.

Charles said that the Wake Forest will focus on offering hybrid models for working students.

"Quality education, better experience, easier access: that’s our vision for the future of the MBA," he added.

The business school has seen double and triple digit growth in its pre-experience graduate programs and flexible MBA programs, the school said.

But its announcement comes at a time of the MBA degree's revival. The latest applicant data from the Graduate Management Admissions Council show resurgence in candidates opting for the full-time two-year MBA program, while online programs’ growth – which has been strong in recent years – has begun to slow.

Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC CEO, said that two-year applications have increased for the third consecutive year and added that other research shows that students value two-year MBA programs for the financial advantages they provide.

However Sherry Moss, Wake Forest MBA professor and faculty area chair, said that day-time MBA enrolments have decreased for the majority of business schools over the past decade.

“The way we deliver MBA education needs to change,” she added.

Wake Forest’s full-time MBA is ranked 94th in the world by the Financial Times.

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