Evolving MBA programs continue to attract an increasing number of students seeking better opportunities and compensation, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).
The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 1971, MBA programs conferred 26,490 master's degrees in business. By 2008, the number of business degrees awarded had jumped to 155,637.
As the popularity of MBA programs grows, so does the range of students seeking to earn an MBA. Both established online schools and traditional colleges are introducing online MBA programs to target global professionals who combine working with earning an MBA degree.
Why Pursue an MBA Degree?
MBA programs are increasingly popular because they enable students to accomplish key professional goals. A GMAC survey reports that students enroll in MBA programs for the following reasons:
- Developing new skills and abilities
- Accessing better career opportunities
- Finding more interesting and challenging work
Armed with an MBA degree, you could also achieve higher compensation, and MBA salaries have been robust even during the economic downturn. The median base salary for business school graduates reached $94,500 in 2010--well above the pre-recession salary of $89,000 in 2007, according to a 2010 GMAC survey. The median bonus in 2010 was $17,565, compared with $10,000 in 2007.
"A quality management education positions people well to thrive in today's highly competitive, knowledge-driven job market," says Dave Wilson, president and CEO of GMAC.
New Options for MBA Programs
Online MBA programs are among the new options that schools are offering students, which also include accelerated MBA programs and specialized MBA degrees.
Traditionally, MBA programs took two years to complete. Now, many schools are offering 12-month options that include traditional MBA degree programs focused on finance or operations as well as specialized MBA degrees in areas such as:
Some companies sponsor a customized or online MBA degree for employees. For example, Enterprise Rent-A-Car has programs in sales for new employees, while Northeastern University offers an online MBA to IBM managers in China and India.
Growing Acceptance of Online MBA Programs
The online MBA is becoming increasingly popular. Top-ranked business schools--such as University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School--are adopting the online format to attract executives worldwide who cannot attend traditional MBA programs. Likewise, more than half of the University of Phoenix 66,000 graduate students are enrolled as MBA candidates, according to Fortune magazine.
During an online MBA program, students attend classes and meetings online in real time or via forums. Some programs also involve a campus-based component in which students attend lectures, complete cases and take exams.
As MBA programs move online, schools are testing out new technologies and web-based platforms that can enhance the learning experience for students. In addition to making use of technology such as iPads, schools are also test driving programs that may enhance their career-placement capabilities.
For example, Stanford has introduced an online platform where students indicate what fields and companies they are interested in so the school can pursue connections with those firms, The Wall Street Journal reports.
"We are almost able to act like an eHarmony between students, alumni and companies," Pulin Sanghvi, director of Stanford's career management center, told The Wall Street Journal.
And just like the online dating service, MBA programs are reportedly experiencing success online.