Employer interest for part-time MBA and specialized master’s graduates climbed from 2016 to 2017 while full-time MBA programs saw a drop, a new study says. Conducted by the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance, a global alliance of career services professionals at more than 200 business schools, the annual study asks how this year’s “full-time, on-campus opportunities (companies interviewing at your school)” compare to last year. At full-time MBA programs, the percentage of schools reporting an increase in on-campus opportunities was 36.5%, down from 41% in last year’s study. Meanwhile, the percentage reporting positive gains for part-time MBA programs surged from 22% last year to 35% this year — and for specialized master’s programs offered within B-schools, the rate rose from 33% in 2016 to 41%.
As specialized master’s programs continue to gain in popularity among employers and students, the results aren’t totally surprising. But the drop in on-campus opportunities for full-time MBA programs does add to growing questions about full-time MBA programs. More schools, however, reported employment opportunity gains than those reporting no gains (30.5%) or decreased opportunities (28.1%), while another 4.9% reported it was too early to tell if on-campus employment opportunities have increased or decreased compared to last year.
The full-time MBA had the highest rate of decreased on-campus opportunities, according to the study. Only 10.3% of respondents from specialized master’s programs reported decreases in on-campus recruiting and 25% of part-time MBA programs reported decreases.
Startups, defined as businesses less than 12 months old, had the highest increase in full-time MBA recruiting compared to small-, mid-, and large-sized firms. Nearly half (47.3%) of schools reported seeing increases in startup interest among their MBAs. However, the rate was a slight dip from last year’s 50% that reported increased interest among startups. The second highest rate comes from mid-size firms at 44.9% of schools reported receiving increased recruiting interest. That rate was a massive increase from last year’s 34%. Recruiting efforts of small-size companies also increased from 29% to 37% this year, the report says.
Alumni-initiated recruiting saw the biggest gains across companies of all size, with 53.2% of schools reporting increases in activity. The next highest category was internship converted into full-time employment, which 44.6% of schools reported an increase. Direct-referral requests was next highest at 43.6%.
One of the more interesting pieces of data coming from this year’s report involves international hiring. According to the study, “full-time job opportunities for full-time international MBA students decreased for over 68% of the responding institutions, and over 40% of the responding institutions reported a decline in job opportunities for international specialized master’s students.” More than three-quarters of the responding schools are based in the U.S., according to the report’s methodology.
This of course comes at a time of tightened immigration policies from the Trump administration, uncertainties surrounding immigration and H1-B visas, and a general increase in nationalistic sentiment in the U.S. and Europe (14% of survey respondents were Europe-based schools). It also comes a little more than a week after two major news outlets reported the Trump administration is seriously considering new restrictions on Chinese student visas, which would be a huge hit to both universities and employers in the U.S.
“Students from China compose the single largest foreign student population across America’s educational landscape,” says Arthur Dong, a teaching professor of strategy at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. “A blanket restriction on the issuance and or renewal of student visas will have an immediate and consequential impact on American Universities and Colleges.”
Dong points to the Trump administration’s recent “aggressive posture” toward communications with China and recent trade tariffs as evidenced of a deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and China. Universities — B-schools included — could find themselves on the losing end of the damaged relations, he says.
“Chinese students are not eligible for many financial aid programs and thus pay the full ticket price at their institutions of choice,” Dong continues. “As state budgetary cutbacks have constrained state school finances, many have become dependent on the tuition dollars from international students to bridge the gap. For smaller private colleges and universities, students from China have been a godsend helping to make up for declining enrollments and shrinking endowments.”
More than half of respondents to the MBACSEA survey came from full-time MBA programs ranked in the top 50, according to the report’s methodology, but it is unclear which ranking that is based on. The survey was conducted in January 2018.