Global Recruiters Are Warming To OMBA Grads. U.S. Employers Are Getting Colder. Why?

The Graduate Management Admission Council released its annual Corporate Recruiters Survey in June. One small item that (mostly) escaped notice deserves its own analysis: GMAC found that the percentage of global recruiters who view graduates of online and in-person business degree programs equally skyrocketed from 34% in 2021 to 60% in 2022, a shift that makes sense in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which accelerated both the acceptance of the quality of programs and the technology used to teach them.

But GMAC’s data contains a major caveat. In the United States, MBAs and other degrees earned online are actually losing favor among recruiters, with only 29% of surveyed employers saying they view graduates of online and in-person MBA programs equally. That’s the lowest of any world region — and down from 33% of respondents from the 2021 poll. Complicating the landscape is the fact that the U.S. is home to far and away the most (and the most highly ranked) online MBA programs.

What’s behind this strange state of affairs? Poets&Quants asked academics on both sides of the Atlantic for their thoughts.


Ohad Kadan became dean of ASU’s W. P. Carey School of Business on July 1

Ohad Kadan, who began his deanship this summer at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business after two decades as a vice dean and professor of finance at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, says he expects online business degree programs to gain more acceptance in the coming years. He certainly hopes so — the Carey School is already home to the No. 1-ranked online undergraduate business program, as well as a highly ranked online MBA (No. 18 in Poets&Quants‘ most recent ranking) and a dozen specialized master’s programs.

“We are going to see — and planning to see — growth in online,” Kadan tells P&Q in a recent interview. “We have an online MBA. We have an online undergraduate program that is number one in the nation by U.S. News. We have thousands of students in the online undergraduate program, and we have hundreds in the online MBA. We have just recently launched a summer intake for our online MBA. It’s been going really well.

“So the demand for our online MBA is growing, very robust. We also offer specialized master’s programs online already and we plan to grow that: our online Master of Business Analytics, for example, and our Master in Supply Chain Management. And we are potentially looking at other specialized master’s programs. We’re also looking at different modalities, and we are looking at and starting to experiment with online certificates.

“So the idea that you only get a degree online is kind of outdated. We understand today that some students cannot dedicate a full say two years or four years to get a degree and so they want to break it down, or they would benefit by breaking it down into pieces called certificates or credentials. This could be at the undergraduate or graduate level.”


Kadan says employers that undervalue graduates of online business programs are simply wrong.

“We dedicate a lot of effort and talent into our online programs,” he says. “They’re equivalent to our in-person immersion programs. The view here at W.P. Carey, the view at ASU, is that these programs are equivalent.

“We are committed to access. Remember that. And some students, some individuals, cannot commit to be here full-time, cannot commit to be here in-person. They are working individuals — why should we deprive them of the opportunity to get their degree?

“I think these employers who are saying that (online is worth less) are making a mistake. They’re making a mistake. We have fantastic online programs and the material is equivalent — identical — to what we teach in our in-person immersion programs.”

See the next pages for insights from Indiana Kelley, UNC Kenan-Flagler, and top B-schools in the UK.

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