How Hult Became The World’s Largest Graduate Business School

Aggressive marketing and recruiting has led to remarkable growth at Hult International Business School

First in a two-part series: Aggressive marketing and recruiting has led to remarkable growth at Hult International Business School

Massive-scale telemarketing. Kickbacks for admissions consultants. Easy scholarships that critics say amount to little more than enticing tuition discounts.

Those are core elements of the most aggressive recruitment machine in the business school world. And now Hult International Business School is taking aim at Latin America, amid a growing world-wide expansion campaign.

The school’s global student-acquisition barrage appears to be working. It’s been two years since Hult proclaimed itself the largest graduate business school in the world. On an annual basis, Hult now enrolls more graduate business students than IE Business School in Spain (1,343), Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Ill. (1,046), Macquarie Graduate School of Management in Australia (1,046), INSEAD in France and Singapore (1,008), and Harvard Business School in Boston (905).

And now Hult International, with campuses in Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai, can easily claim that it is the fastest growing business school as well. At a time when most B-schools report flat or declining numbers of students, total start-of-year enrollments at Hult more than doubled to 2,632 last year from 1,161 in 2010. The school’s MBA intake in 2013 was nearly 700 students, up from less than 440 four years ago.

That explosive growth (see table below) has drawn hostile responses from mainstream academia who dismiss Hult as little more than a marketing machine and question the quality of the education students are getting from largely adjunct and part-time teachers at what is a school unaccredited by the two major business school accreditation agencies–AACSB and EQUIS. The criticism is reminiscent of the attacks levied at such for-profit schools as the University of Phoenix in its heyday.

‘A PRICE ON EVERY STUDENT’S HEAD’

“They are an aggressive discount call center,” asserts the MBA director of a prominent international business school who declined to be quoted by name. “It’s a hard, hard sale. There is a price on every student’s head. These guys hit the phones hard and literally each close is money in your bank account.”

Even some of the school’s alumni question Hult’s growth agenda. Nebojsa Radovic, who graduated from the school last year with a master’s in international marketing, describes Hult’s rapid expansion as “really, really insane.” “I don’t think that focusing on growth all the time when you’re a school is super smart,” argues Radovic, who works in marketing at the Serbia office of an Ireland-based gaming firm, and publishes a blog on Hult and its pros and cons. “If the school wants to keep quality high, they need to stop focusing on bringing more and more students in every year, and focus on upgrading the quality of the professors and helping students to find jobs.”

Hult International’s Explosive Growth Story

 

YearTotal Student IntakeMBAsMaster’sEMBAUndergrads
20132,6336701,344310308
20122,2507171,027287219
20111,778616773178211
20101,16143649167167

Source: Hult International Business School

DON’T MISS: The other articles in our series on Hult International: Hult Business School: A Rising Powerhouse or a Pariah? and The Kanye West Of Business Schools