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

Chris Healy of Alliance Manchester: “Forty percent of our students in our Global MBA are fully or partly funded by their organization – this suggests that employers see the value of such an MBA and that they want to retain these members of staff and invest in their futures in order for them to take more senior roles in the future.”

Chris Healy, head of MBA marketing and recruitment at Alliance Manchester Business School in the UK, says one reason for the disparity in perceptions reflected in the GMAC data is that U.S. full-time MBA classes are usually dominated by domestic students, with many B-schools’ MBA cohorts comprised of 70% or more domestic students. Contrast that with Europe, where a minimum of 70% will be international — and likely much more.

“What this shows is, there are more Europeans/Brits undertaking professional MBA programs such as online MBAs,” Healy says in an email to P&Q. Recruiters in Europe therefore are invested in the success of those programs’ grads.

Many online MBA programs in the U.S. are new, Healy adds — most have been in existence for less than 10 years. A notable exception is Indiana Kelley, with which Alliance partners on an executive Global MBA, whose Kelley Direct was launched in 1999. In Europe, he says, many online programs are older; Alliance’s was launched 30 years ago.


Of the more than 90 nationalities studying across six centers around the world in Alliance Manchester’s online Global MBA, 40% are fully or partly funded by their organization, Healy says, suggesting that employers see the value of such an MBA “and that they want to retain these members of staff and invest in their futures in order for them to take more senior roles in the future.” In fact, he adds, the majority of Alliance’s OMBA students are undertaking the program to take on more senior roles in their current organizations, “or those funding it themselves may look to move to new organizations in the same industry. We also see many students now who want to follow their own business ideas, and who therefore do not have to go through traditional corporate recruiters.”

As Healy points out, Manchester and another UK school, Imperial College Business School in London, are special cases: Both B-schools are ranked among the top 5 full-time MBAs in the UK.

“How many of the top 5 MBAs in the U.S. have a variation of an online MBA?” he asks. “The answer is none. The Imperial and Manchester MBA are ranked in the top 5 and both have a variation of an online MBA. That suggests there will be fewer question marks from organizations about quality when two of the top 5 MBAs in the UK are offering such programs.”


University of North Carolina’s Brad Staats. Courtesy photo

Brad Staats, senior associate dean for strategy and academics at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, says GMAC’s survey data raises an interesting question that has a few possible answers. For one thing, he says, there’s still a split in working professionals and full-time students and a difference between entry-level type recruiting positions and those with established connections in companies.

“I think that at least for our students, we don’t see struggles,” Staat says. The MBA@UNC is among the top-ranked online MBA programs in the U.S.

“Now, it’s been an interesting question of, ‘Is there self-selection going on?’ The online market continues to evolve a fair bit. I think when we look at the outcomes folks are having here and the perceptions of the online MBA, if anything Covid has, I think, strengthened it up a little bit for us, but not a dramatic shift.

“I was chatting with folks and we see that employers actually appreciate not only the degree, but even the fact that students can make jumps in real time since they’re in the workforce, and that they can even tailor their MBA. You’ve got 34 credits left, you’re making a shift to product marketing. Great. Let’s think about what the electives are. Then really set you up for even more success here.

“This is true across full-time and working professionals, but an MBA can mean very different things. Is it a two-year, 60-ish credit degree as it is for many of us — or is it the 30-credit, ‘quick let’s add some skills’? We see certainly bifurcation in online versus full-time, but we see that across working professionals in general, whether it’s an evening or a weekend program, too.”

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