Survey Shows MBA Programs Changing With the Times

The MBA Roundtable, a nonprofit organization focused on MBA curricular design and innovation, has announced the results of its 2009 MBA Curricular Innovation Study. According to a statement released by the group, the study indicates that MBA programs are reacting seriously to criticism that they are not relevant enough to today’s business needs and are making corresponding curricular changes.

Here are a few highlights from the data collected in the survey:

  • 69% of schools have made a significant revision to their MBA curriculum within the past four years.
  • The most common curricular revision was adding applied content, such as project-based courses.
  • “Integration across topics and disciplines” and “interdisciplinary content” were also popular curricular revisions.
  • 25% have added an industry specialization in the past three years; the most common were healthcare/biotech/medicine and entrepreneurship.
  • About half the programs reported that they had added leadership development offerings and provided more emphasis on global perspectives.
  • 14% of the programs surveyed were new MBA programs that had been launched within the past three years.
  • Most of the new programs had moved from concept to enrolling students in less than 18 months, indicating a fairly rapid development cycle.
  • Full-time MBA programs experienced the most changes.
  • 89% of all MBA programs surveyed are planning additional curricular changes.

Rodney Alsup, president of the MBA Roundtable, applauds the results, saying that “It shows that there has been a concentrated effort among MBA programs to innovate and make changes that increase their relevance to both students and employers.”

The motivation for these changes comes from both internal and external sources, the study reports. Internal quality improvement initiatives were by far the most common motivator, selected by 64% of participants. Among external factors, “competitor schools” was the most commonly chosen answer, with 34% percent of respondents choosing it as one of their motivators.

“The best news to come out of this study is that 89% of MBA programs are already planning additional curricular changes,” concluded Alsup. “That indicates that these programs are on a cycle of continuous improvement.”

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