The Rise Of Online & Part-Time MBAs

The online MBA is growing in prominence as several business schools scale back on their full-time MBA programs

Biz Journals recently reported on how business schools are evolving with the emergence of online and part-time MBA programs.

“Full-time MBA programs are definitely getting smaller, but it’s not going away by any measure,” John Wells, senior vice provost for online education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst tells Biz Journals. “It’s more of a niche because of the viability of the online MBA.”

Business Schools Are Closing Full-Time MBA Programs

For a third straight year, applications to full-time MBA programs fell according to the Wall Street Journal. As a response to declining applications, a number of business schools have decided to focus more on part-time MBAs and online MBA programs.

The University of Iowa, Wake Forest University, Virginia Tech, and Simmons College have all shut down their full-time MBA programs due to lack of enrollment. Last October, University of Wisconsin at Madison revealed that the school is seriously considering a proposal to shut down its full-time MBA program, Poets&Quants reports.

“Higher education, like business, is in an unprecedented period of accelerated change along several dimensions, including technology, globalization, and the changing expectations of students at all levels,” according to a statement by University of Wisconsin officials. “To advance our standing as a top business school, we must respond to this reality.”

Move toward online MBA and part-time MBA

At UMass Amherst’s Isenberg School of Management, flexibility has become a priority in order to remain relevant to students. The online program complements the full-time two year MBA program and allows students to finish up their degree online if they choose to. Consequently, students can also decide to start in the online program and finish up their degree in the full-time program.

“We have a growing number of students who start online and then come in residence after they decided to do a more fundamental pivot in their career. They want to come to the on-campus program to take advantage of our full residential experience,” Wells tells Biz Journals.

According to Wells, online and part-time MBA programs offer students the advantage of earning a degree without having to take time off from their career.

“Students still like to get that online MBA at a university or a school that has a full-time presence because it attracts alumni and guest speakers,” Wells tells Biz Journals. “As long as we capture that and deliver it online, the online students get to take advantage of that as well.”

Sources: Biz Journals, Wall Street Journal, Inside Higher Ed, Poets & Quants


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