Wake Forest Exits Full-Time MBA Market

The new $55 million home of Wake Forest's business school, Farrell Hall, was only recently opened

The new $55 million home of Wake Forest’s business school, Farrell Hall, was only recently opened

The dean, however, insists the school did what it could to reverse things but was fighting macro-trends in the marketplace. “What you see in the industry is that any program out of the top ten schools has experienced exactly what we have: declining applications that reflect declining demand and a shift to international students. We have studied the market to understand the short-term effects of the economy and the long-term effects. Our forecast is that our resources will be better invested to serve the needs of the marketplace in other programs, including degrees for working professionals.”

Asked why he believes there is declining interest in full-time MBA programs, Iacovou cited the proliferation of one-year specialized master’s degrees and the increasing demand for more flexible programs. “The change is coming from the students themselves. They are choosing to receive an MBA differently than they had. Many of them don’t want to walk away from income or they choose to get more specialized degrees. The firms themselves are also the reason. Some industries are becoming much more creative in tapping talent outside the traditional MBA channel.”


He said the incoming class quality metrics are “the highest we have had in years,” with an average GMAT score of 652 and an average undergraduate grade point average of 3.33. Wake Forest launched its full-time MBA program in 1973.

The dean said no faculty would lose their jobs as a result of the decision. “We will not need fewer faculty,” Iacovou added. “We project additional growth overall. Not only will we be able to fully employ the faculty occupied with the full-time program but we will have to do additional hiring to fully support the programs at the school.”

The school intends to expand enrollment in other programs and to add more executive education, pre-experience and specialized master’s in business, just as it has done since 2009 when total enrollment at the school was 1,000. Today it is up 30% since then to 1,300, including 520 undergraduate business majors, 304 Executive MBA candidates, 143 students in a Master’s of Art Management, and 238 students in a Master of Science program in accountancy.