In the United States, online MBA students now exceed full-time MBAs | SehndeWeb

There’s a big surprise buried in a new count of the number of MBA students enrolled in business schools: More MBA students in the US are now studying in online MBA options than in MBA programs. more traditional full-time jobs on campus.

In the 2020-2021 academic year, some 45,038 students were enrolled in online MBA options in the United States, compared to 43,740 in full-time programs, according to the AACSB (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business), the primary accreditation of business schools. agency (see table below). However, the numbers show that e-learning is much more popular in the US than it is globally. Globally, full-time students still outnumber those in online programs, 78,061 to 53,281.

Even so, part-time in-person programs, many of which add online elements, remain the MBA offering with the highest number of students enrolled. In the United States, 82,322 students are studying for an MBA through part-time evening and weekend programs, or about 53% of the total. This number rises to 127,844 worldwide, or 51% of the 250,369 students currently enrolled in MBA programs worldwide.

“The MBA landscape has changed in the last 24 months”

What’s Behind the Skyrocketing Popularity of Online MBA Programs? “The landscape for MBA programs has changed significantly over the past 24 months,” notes W. Brooke Elliott, associate executive dean of academic programs at the University of Illinois Gies College of Business. “The pandemic has inspired many people to re-evaluate their personal and professional choices and to take steps, often through education, to change their current path.”

A tight labor market that keeps more young professionals in their jobs is also contributing. “Thanks to the strength of the labor market, the opportunity costs for people leaving the labor market for a full-time program have increased,” notes Sarah Perez, managing director of MBA programs at Kenan-Flagler Business School. from the University of North Carolina. “The need for learning flexibility, even beyond in-person evening or weekend delivery, is very appealing to people in many industries. Global labor markets are strong, so the need for flexibility also extends beyond national borders. During the pandemic, more people have become familiar with the concept and reality of online learning.

At UNC, enrollment for the school’s online MBA@UNC option, now celebrating its tenth anniversary, has exceeded enrollment for the school’s full-time MBA for years, with about 766 students currently online and 637 at UNC’s full-time MBA. “In our case,” adds Perez, “we have four MBA@UNC starts per year, so there are more opportunities to start the program. With online programs, business schools are not limited by the physical classroom space.

“Education has been disrupted”

In Gies, enrollment for the school’s $22,500 iMBA has skyrocketed during the pandemic. At Gies, more than 4,200 students are currently studying in Gies’ online MBA program from an initial cohort of just 263 students in 2016 (see iConverge: A Love Fest Of Passionate Believers For Gies’ iMBA).

“The disruption of traditional graduate business education had already begun before the pandemic with innovative, flexible and affordable programs from top business schools,” adds Elliott. “We’ve seen in the workplace that individuals value flexibility and autonomy and can be productive and happier working remotely. We’ve seen large organizations completely change the way they work, how they attract talent, and where and how they allow these talents to work.Individuals now seek exactly the same things in education!Education has been disrupted because individuals value not only what they learn, but how and when they learn , and innovators in the MBA space are meeting that demand!”

There are already at least 358 online MBA programs in the United States, and even more schools are jumping on the bandwagon. NYU Stern and Haas School of Business at UC-Berkeley will soon enroll students in an online option in their part-time MBA programs. The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, currently the school with the highest-ranked full-time MBA in the online MBA market, saw its first student complete their online MBA last August. Boston University’s new online MBA graduates in May and now has a total enrollment of just over 1,700 online MBA students. The school expects that number to grow to 2,400 by January next year. The school, which is holding its original price for the program at $24,000 until next year, aims to enroll about 550 students this fall during one of its two admissions. And in a recent survey, business school deans predicted that one of the top five business schools would enter the online MBA market within the next two years.

Four major trends have fueled the increased demand for online MBAs

The growing popularity of online studies can be attributed to four major trends, according to Will Geoghegan, chair of the Kelley Direct program at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business:

  • The higher level of legitimacy of the Online MBA for prospective students, employers and school leaders.
  • Technological advances that make online learning more impactful.
  • Increase in in-person experiences in online programs.
  • The significantly lower networking and opportunity costs of not having to quit your job.

“Employers have turned the corner away from their misperceptions that online learning is inferior to full-time MBA experiences,” Geoghegan believes. “In a tight hiring landscape like the one we currently find ourselves in, employers are seizing opportunities to retain employees while encouraging them to grow professionally through graduate-level courses. Online programs are positioned to enable such advancement. Our students tell us how their supervisors have applauded their decision to remain employed while returning to school through our online MBA. Employers recognize that those who can juggle full-time work while still earning their MBAs highlight an ability to multitask, set priorities and stay organized – the same traits and behaviors they look for in an employee.

Perez at UNC agrees. “Online learning is now very credible,” she says. “Results are strong from a career and salary perspective, and the technology/delivery has improved significantly. All schools have gained experience during COVID and the age of the MBA has grown with the e-learning.”

“The online MBA learning experience is light years ahead of previous generations”

Kelley first launched its online MBA offering in 1999, one of the first business schools in the game, but more recent advances in technology have made online learning a much more attractive option than ever. “Advances in technology have made online education a viable alternative,” says Geoghegan. “We’ve come a long way from discussion forums and audio recordings to PowerPoint slides. Advances in video conferencing, whiteboard technologies, classroom response systems, asynchronous engagement, collaboration tools, augmented and virtual reality have enabled a learning experience that is light years ahead. ahead of previous generations.”

At a time when many students are reluctant to quit their jobs and go into debt to fund a full-time MBA experience, online options offer the opportunity to earn the degree at a significantly lower cost. “Another factor for the online modality to overtake the in-person variant is cost — more specifically, opportunity cost,” Geoghegan said. Poet&Quants. “The majority of our online MBA students continue to work while studying for their MBA, without having to give up two years of their salary and career progression and the vast majority of our students receive a promotion during their time in the program or immediately after.”

In reality, Poets&QuantsSurveys of recent online MBA graduates show that half or more of graduates report getting a pay rise as a result of their online MBA degrees (see How Online MBAs Assess the Career Impact of diploma).

The in-residence sessions in some of the online MBA programs have further provided the opportunity to meet professors and classmates face-to-face during a largely online learning experience. “One facet that has evolved in recent years is the ability to combine online teaching with immersive in-person experiences,” says Geoghegan. “For example, we offer “Kelley On Campus” in Bloomington at the start of the MBA course. This residency involves integration through an introspective analysis of your personal style and behaviors, followed by an intense live case experience where students work on a client problem/opportunity in a structured way. We also offer “Kelley On Location” experiences towards the end of the MBA course to complement the MBA as well as various national and international immersions. We believe that these in-person experiences are essential complements and bring enormous value to our students. Bonds that develop in person persist and are strengthened in the online environment.


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