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Business Schools Rethinking MBA Programs

Compiled By Yaffa Klugerman
December 8, 2009

Business schools are reconsidering their curriculums, with some aiming for a better-rounded MBA while others are concentrating on specifics.

Forbes reports that business schools are increasingly stressing a broader education, which has led to a surge in double-qualification programs nationwide. The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, for example, offers a combined master's of business administration and master's of arts in environmental studies. Columbia Business School, meanwhile, offers a wide variety of dual degrees which include subjects such as architecture, dentistry, social work, engineering, journalism and medicine.

The Wall Street Journal reports that other business schools are launching accelerated business programs in order to provide students with a shorter and more focused alternative to the traditional MBA. At Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management, for example, one can now obtain a master's degree in finance in a year.

"The master's in finance degree isn't designed for broader management positions," explained Debra Luchanin, program director of MIT's program, who was quoted in the Journal. "We're gearing students up for more specialized quantitative positions, such as asset management."

The Journal notes that according to the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the one-year business programs are becoming more popular: For the 2008-9 school year, 645 programs were offered, while 614 were offered two years before. Moreover, enrollment in the programs rose from 24,527 in 2006-7 to 29,907 in 2008-9.

In October, Business Week reported that some business schools are creating accelerated MBA programs which can be completed in one year at about half the cost of the traditional two-year program. In the summer of 2010, for example, Rutgers Business School will be launching a one-year MBA program at its New Brunswick, New Jersey campus.

"There's a growing niche segment of students who aren't making as big of a career switch," explained Susan Gilbert, the school's associate dean of MBA programs, who was quoted in Business Week. "They want their MBAs in a hurry in order to advance their career in the field and function that they are already in."

Yet FINS.com reports that traditional MBA programs also remain a popular choice, despite the economic downturn's effect on the financial sector. Harvard Business School saw an increase of 16 percent in its applications last year and another 5 percent this year. Applications to the Stanford School of Business similarly rose 15 percent both in 2008 and 2009.

"$100,000 certainly feels like a lot of money right now," acknowledged Eric Gonzalez, a student at Columbia who was quoted by FINS.com, "but most of us feel as though it will pay off in the long run."

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