Biggest B-School Stories of 2009

As the New Year looms and the aughts come to an end, we at Stacy Blackman Consulting think the time is ripe to reflect on the major news and trends that defined the B-school scene in 2009.

Here, in no particular order, we reminisce over the Top Five B-School Stories of the closing year.

Applications Rise as Economy Tanks

The economic tsunami that pummeled Wall Street and beyond in late 2008 ushered in the year with much upheaval, causing quite the ripple effect throughout the MBA world. With many jobs vaporized overnight, the rush to apply to business school and wait out the downturn within the hallowed halls of academia surprised some and made total sense to others. In fact, two-thirds of full-time MBA programs in the latest GMAC Application Trends Survey report receiving more applications from potential students in 2009 than in the previous year.

Blaming B-Schools for Ethical Lapses

In April 2009, Harvard Business Review launched an intriguing online debate on how to fix business schools, which as many applicants know, were charged far and wide as contributors to the ethical and strategic lapses that helped create the economic crisis. Economists and professors everywhere endeavored to discover whether the charge was legitimate, and if so, what changes could be made going forward. Were we talking about a little tarnish, or, as the New York Times asked, are business schools dealing with serious, lasting damage to their reputations?

The MBA Oath

In an effort to staunch the attacks on B-schools as breeding grounds of immorality, members of Harvard Business School’s 2009 graduating class put forth “The MBA Oath,” a voluntary pledge that the goal of a business manager is to serve the greater good, act ethically and refrain from advancing their “own narrow ambitions” at the expense of others. A global code of conduct for business seems like a decent idea, but not everyone’s on board; two of INSEAD’s professors recently faced off over whether students should sign an MBA Oath.

Financial Crisis Spurs Curriculum Changes

By the time the crisis hit, many top programs had already began creating MBA case studies on the collapse of major financial firms. As the year progressed, further curriculum changes came about to help students understand the crisis and its causes, as well as changes to address the charges of ethical shortcomings leveled at B-schools. Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School and McCombs School of Business are just a few whose changes made headlines recently.

GRE or GMAT? The Choice is Yours

The GMAT’s undisputed reign over the business school admission process has taken several hits, as the number of top schools now accepting the GRE as well grew by leaps and bounds this year. Yale SOM, HBS, Stern, Darden, MIT Sloan Wharton and Stanford are just a few of the top programs now accepting the GRE as an alternative for admission. Competition between the two exams will surely intensify by 2011, when the GRE test gets revamped. The movement, BusinessWeek reported in July, coincides with younger applicants beginning to show increased interest in business school.

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We hope you enjoyed this little jaunt down memory lane as we recall the biggest B-school stories of the past twelve months. Think we missed something? Please leave us a comment below with your pick for the top news or trend in business schools for 2009. And don’t forget to check out our Top Five Back to B-School Posts on Stacy Blackman’s BNET blog.

Stacy Blackman Consulting sends you our warmest wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season, and much success in the New Year!

(photo courtesy of Flickr user *Sally M*, CC 2.0)

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