Georgetown’s Plan To Stay Relevant In A Flooded Market

Georgetown University MSB Students (Photo by Leslie E. Kossoff/Georgetown University)

How has interest been in the Flex MBA program so far?

We are literally we just in the midst of closing round one applications, so we will see. One of the leading indicators that we track is number of people who have started an application. And that number was up 25%. But I don’t know how many of those will actually submit an application.

The other thing that we have been following is the number of people who come to our information sessions. And that was up in the first couple that we did. So I’m hopeful, but you never know. People may be interested because of the marketing that we’ve done and the fact that it’s a new program. But when they look into it, they might still discover that, okay, this is not really flexible enough for me.

Either way, we will learn. We want to make it as flexible as the market really wants it to be. But we’ll see how the first round of innovation in the program does. And then we will respond accordingly.

Speaking of interest and applications, have you been seeing the same slowing in full-time MBA applications like many other schools have seen?

Yeah, I think that’s a trend. We also saw a decline with all the other schools. But I think if you dig a little deeper into the data it looks like — at least for us — the big part of the decline is being fueled by international applications. There is a decline in the domestic application pool as well, but it is much smaller in terms of overall stats compared to the international decline.

International declines could very well be in the 20% range but the domestic applicants are probably single digits. I think the domestic decline is understandable because the MBA market is counter-cyclical. When the economy is doing really well there are fewer people who are motivated to leave their job. They’re doing well at work. But what is interesting and what I try to tell my team and also to any prospective students who’s interested is that while the application market is counter-cyclical the job market is cyclical.

For example, when the economy is doing well, students get really good jobs. With our newest employment report, we have some of the best numbers in the10 years that I’ve been here. Almost 98% of our students received offers and 94% of them accepted those offers, which are better than the last seven or eight years. Salaries have also increased pretty significantly. It’s still dominated by consulting and finance but now technology is also popular. Almost 20% of our students are now going into technology.

If you have a reason to think about moving careers or changing what you are doing, this may be the best time to do an MBA because there is less competition on the application side and great job prospects outside. But actually, our overall admission stats improved in that we had higher average GMATs, we maintained the GPA, and we have an equally diverse class. So it’s people who are really motivated to get an MBA for the right reasons who are now applying.

I’ve heard from other schools they believe there is a direct cause and effect from the Trump administration’s policies and rhetoric toward immigration and work visas and the international population in general that is playing a large role in declines in international applicants. Is that something you’re seeing as well? 

Well, I don’t think any of us can escape that. That’s the reason that international prospective students give us. One of things that was a little striking, at least for me, was when the admission team went to go recruit students abroad, one of the questions they were asked more often was, will I be safe in America? And that’s a sad question to ask. That’s a said question.

I mean, I don’t know what aspect of safety exactly. Is it physical safety or just sort of a social safety net? People are just worried. First it was the work visa issues — which have always been there but people were adapting to it — but now just the overall political and social climate is starting to make international students nervous.

And you know, I would love to know what other schools are doing to sort of counter that and provide reassurance or programming on campus welcomes. It would be good for us as schools to collaborate on something like this because it is affecting all of us.

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