Iowa Tippie To End Full-Time MBA Program

The University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business will have only two more graduation ceremonies for full-time MBA students after it was announced August 22 that the school is phasing out its program. Tippie will focus instead on its part-time MBA, including the Executive MBA and Professional MBA, and specialized master’s programs

The University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business announced Tuesday (August 22) that it will phase out its full-time MBA program, with the incoming Class of 2019 being the school’s final cohort. Tippie Dean Sarah Gardial said in a written statement the school will focus on growing its part-time MBA and specialized master’s degree offerings.

Tippie joins a handful of other prominent schools in abandoning the full-time MBA market. In recent years, Wake Forest University, Thunderbird School of Global Management, Virginia Tech, and Simmons College have also shut down their full-time, on-campus MBA programs. Many other business schools are using their full-time MBA programs as loss leaders to gain a U.S. News ranking that would reflect on a school’s overall reputation and have a valuable impact on their other degree programs.

But this year Tippie’s full-time MBA program fell 19 spots in U.S. News‘ ranking to 64th from 45th a year earlier. Only two other schools lost more ground among the 100 ranked programs: George Washington University, which fell out of the list entirely due to a miscalculated GMAT score, and the University of Oklahoma’s Price School of Business, which fell 20 positions to rank 83rd.


“Adapting to the market is key for growth in any organization, and we’re seeing clear shifts in what students and businesses need,” Gardial said. “Both are expressing preferences for non-career-disrupting options for the MBA, while others are increasingly drawn to the focused education provided by master’s programs in specific subjects.”

Iowa Tippie’s most recent full-time MBA class profile showed an enrollment of only 110 students, including 35.5% international students and 11.8% U.S. minorities. The program also tilts male-heavy at 77.3%. MBA students pay $23,234 (in-state, full-time) or $40,134 (out-of-state, full-time) per year. 

Tippie’s part-time MBA program, on the other hand, including its Executive MBA and Professional MBA, is ranked No. 38 by U.S. News and boasts an enrollment of 780.


Tippie Dean Sarah Gardial

Tippie’s move to phase out the full-time MBA program is subject to a presentation on September 6 before the Academic and Student Affairs Committee of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa. If approved, the school’s final full-time MBA cohort will graduate in May 2019. The changes will have no impact on the college’s undergraduate program, which has about 2,479 students.

Gardial said the move will allow Tippie to introduce several specialized master’s programs over the next three years while also increasing investments in programs like its Professional MBA and Executive MBA. As an example of a specialized program that may serve as a model for future Tippie offerings, she cited the school’s Master of Science in Business Analytics degree, which was launched in 2014 and has quickly expanded to three UI campuses, with enrollment growing 517% in less than three years.

The college also will introduce a master’s program in finance in fall 2018, while a student-managed fixed-income fund — touted as the first of its kind in any master of finance program — is also under development.

Sue Curry, UI interim executive vice president and provost, said the moves by Tippie show how the school is willing to take risks to overcome challenges. “The college has always been an innovator, anticipating the business education that students and employers need to thrive in a changing economy,” Curry said in a news release.


Gardial pointed to shifts in demand in Tippie’s Iowa MBA programs as well, where enrollment in the part-time Professional MBA and Executive MBA programs makes up more than 91% of all MBA enrollment. The school also recently introduced professional certificates, invested in new off-campus locations, and expanded its online course offerings within its Professional MBA; in fact, she said, the college anticipates the Professional MBA curriculum will be entirely available online in the future.

Nor is Tippie’s move unique, Gardial said, pointing to the decision by such other business schools as Wake Forest University and Virginia Tech to end their full-time MBA programs.

“We are extremely proud of our full-time MBA, its rankings, its faculty and staff, and the incredible successes of its alumni whom we have had the honor of supporting on their career journeys,” Gardial said. “They are a credit to the university, and we look forward to their full and continued engagement in the life of the institution moving forward. This move will continue to grow the value of the Tippie brand and the reputation of the Iowa MBA.”


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