Yale | Mr. Lawyer Turned Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Ms. 2+2 Trader
GMAT 770, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr Big 4 To IB
GRE 317, GPA 4.04/5.00
Stanford GSB | Ms. Engineer In Finance – Deferred MBA
GRE 332, GPA 3.94
Chicago Booth | Mr. Corporate Development
GMAT 740, GPA 3.2
Darden | Ms. Education Management
GRE 331, GPA 9.284/10
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Second Chance In The US
GMAT 760, GPA 2.3
Columbia | Mr. Confused Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Ms. Big 4 M&A Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 2:1 (Upper second-class honours, UK)
Harvard | Mr. Harvard 2+2, Chances?
GMAT 740, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Billion Dollar Startup
GRE 309, GPA 6.75/10
Harvard | Mr. Comeback Kid
GMAT 770, GPA 2.8
Wharton | Ms. Negotiator
GMAT 720, GPA 7.9/10
Duke Fuqua | Mr. IB Back Office To Front Office/Consulting
GMAT 640, GPA 2.8
Harvard | Mr. Marine Pilot
GMAT 750, GPA 3.98
MIT Sloan | Ms. Physician
GRE 307, GPA 3.3
Wharton | Ms. Globetrotting Trader
GMAT 720, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Ms. 2+2 ENG Entrepreneur
GRE 322, GPA 3.82
Harvard | Mr. 2+2 Filipino Social Entrepreneur
GMAT 700, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Mr. Deferred Admit Searcher
GMAT 740, GPA 3.9
Wharton | Ms. General Motors
GRE 330, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Sustainability Consulting
GMAT 710 (Q49/V39), GPA 3.39
Stanford GSB | Mr. Global Innovator
GMAT 720, GPA 3.99
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Real Estate IB
GMAT 710, GPA 3.68
Kellogg | Mr. Virtual Reality Entrepreneur
GRE 326, GPA 3.87
Chicago Booth | Mr. Mexican Central Banker
GMAT 730, GPA 95.8/100 (1st in class)
Harvard | Mr. Overrepresented MBB Consultant (2+2)
GMAT 760, GPA 3.95

Is The Full-Time MBA Dead?

Crisis illustration

Crisis illustration

With every bump in the economy there seems to be a segment of people who proclaim the demise of the MBA. When economic clouds gather, these prophets look skyward for any sign that the MBA is losing relevance in today’s fast-moving economy. Yet according to the 2015 Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Application Trends Survey Report, overall applications for full-time, two-year MBA programs are up compared to 10 years ago.

The picture isn’t consistently bright everywhere. GMAC’s findings reveal a more complex situation for specific regions in the U.S. compared with last year. The survey noted that full-time, two-year MBA applications have surged in the South, with 68% of schools citing an increase in applicant volume, and the West, 64% were up. The Northeast, however, reported a 52% of schools saw a decline, along with the Midwest, which had 47% citing a decline in applications.

But while the Northeast is currently experiencing a drop in applicants, the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester is experiencing the exact opposite.

Andrew Ainslie, Dean of the University of Rochester's Simon School

Andrew Ainslie, dean of the University of Rochester’s Simon School

ROCHESTER’S MOVE TO REDUCE TUITION COST

At the Simon Business School, we have moved rapidly to institute some major changes in our approach to stay ahead of the game. We’re bucking the trend in the Northeast by growing our overall applications by double digits and increasing the number and quality of our student population.

We kicked off the 2015-2016 school year with new ideas designed to expand our full-time applicant pool and grow enrollment. After conducting some research on the relationship between the sticker price of the MBA program and business school rankings, we announced a price change for the full-time MBA program in August 2015. Pricing moved from a credit-hour basis of billing with an advertised sticker price of over $105,000 to a flat-rate price of $92,000 for the two-year program.

Our staff resources were deployed to fully focus our efforts on the fall 2016 MBA application pool, and we introduced changes in our sales outreach at key points in the recruiting cycle. The targets of our focus were full-time MBA candidates with more full-time work experience than past recruiting plans, with a professional and personal work profile that indicated we could maximize their future earning potential.

Our ground game complemented our strategy. Simon’s admissions team attended 72 events around the U.S. and the world to recruit top MBA and MS talent, and hosted 20 on-campus events for prospective and admitted MBA and MS students. Attendance at these events was up 52% compared with last year.

BIG JUMPS IN APPLICATIONS 

Additionally, we hosted a number of students for individual campus visits and experienced a 21% growth in visitors compared with last year at this time. Over the past year, we aggressively connected to candidates taking the GMAT or GRE who have a demographic and academic profile that our analysis indicated would be a fit for a Simon MBA or MS program. We were also aggressive with email outreach and mailings, something we believe helped us to attract more prospective students to Simon.

The strategy and tactics we employed have paid off. Despite declining domestic GMAT test-taking over a multi-year period, decreasing application volume, and flat domestic volume in the Northeast and Midwest, Simon has seen:

  • A 22% increase in total applications submitted for 2016;
  • A 39% increase in domestic applications;
  • An increase in the quality of applicants in GMAT, GPA, and average years of prior work experience;
  • A projected enrollment of 100 to 110 students for the class of 2018, with roughly 50% domestic students and an academic profile comparable to our class profile last year of 667 GMAT and 3.40 GPA.

In a time when fewer people are applying for other advanced degrees such as law, business schools seem to be an increasingly popular destination for career-minded professionals seeking a graduate education. As I have said before, the full-time MBA continues to be a sought-after credential because graduates continue to see a high return on investment. Not only do they see this in terms of their earning potential, they see it in their job satisfaction and personal fulfillment as well.

Andrew Ainslie is the dean of the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School.