Does your undergraduate major matter when you’re applying to MBA programs? Of course it does, but maybe not in the way you might think. Traditional thinking may suggest that an undergraduate degree in economics or other business-based focus might give you an edge in admissions – as this kind of degree might better prepare students for business school – but this might not actually be the case. Continue reading
It’s almost spring, and some business schools are getting a head start on spring cleaning. That is to say, this is the time of year that b-schools often launch new programs and revamp their curriculums for the fall. Here’s a quick look at some recent changes to MBA programs.
HEC Paris has announced some changes to its 16-month full-time program. Starting in September, all core courses will be taught entirely in English, although some electives will still be available in French. The school will also offer a wider range of experiential learning options, and a new specialization in “Leadership in Global Organizations,” which will prepare students for management-level positions in multinational organizations.
Likewise, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business has refreshed its full-time and evening MBA programs with a new, global focus. The school will launch a variety of new courses, including one called “Principled Leadership for Business and Society,” which will focus on elements of leadership and ethics in a globalized business environment. Additionally, the program will continue to offer global experiential learning through a new course called “The Global Business Experience,” which will give students hands-on experience consulting for organizations around the world.
There’s been quite a bit of press recently questioning the benefits of a business education for those who want to start their own businesses. For instance, in an article titled “You Could Get There Faster Without An MBA” in the Business Insider, author Jay Bhatti says that the cost and the time commitments for getting an MBA make the degree less valuable than just jumping right in and innovating.
From Mitt Romney in the U.S. to William Hague in the U.K., a lot has been made recently about high-profile business leaders venturing into politics. In some ways, intuition holds that a good business leader would make a successful politician. For example, leadership and negotiation, staples of an MBA’s skillset, are extremely important in the political arena.
And some MBA programs are even beginning to integrate politics and public policy coursework into their curriculums. Yale School of Management now offers a course called “Washington and Wall Street: Markets, Policy, and Politics;” while the George Washington University School of Business offers an MBA concentration in Business-Government Relations. And Michigan Ross School of Business MBA students now have the opportunity to learn about Washington first hand during a week-long course called “Business and the Public Policy Process: How Washington Works and What Issues Matter.”
After a couple of years of uncertainty in the global economy and the resulting hesitancy of employers to increase hiring, a couple of recent jobs reports show that there was strong growth in the number of employers hiring MBA graduates last year in many regions. And this growth is set to continue into 2012.
The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) recently released its 2011 Year-End Employers Poll, for which it surveyed 229 hiring managers at 216 companies. The findings were generally optimistic, and show that in 2012, a majority of the companies surveyed are planning to either keep hiring at levels consistent with 2011 levels or increase hiring overall. GMAC found that this trend will be especially good for business school graduates: 74% of the companies surveyed were planning on hiring MBAs in 2012, compared to just 57% last year.
The GMAC report also found that up to a third of the companies surveyed plan to increase base salaries, through raises and additional perks, in 2012.
Recently, the Association to Advance Colligate Schools of Business (AACSB) accredited the Indian School of Business (ISB.) This is the first school in India that AACSB has accredited, and the accreditation promises to boost the school’s international reputation. In a press release, ISB frames this event as a fundamental shift in business education as well as in business as a whole:
“Within Asia, India is emerging as a significant player owing to factors such as opening and globalising of Indian economy, massive explosion of higher education and a change in approach from being ‘inward looking’ to ‘outward looking’. Against this backdrop, international accreditation will enable Indian B-schools to strengthen their global standing and raise the quality of Indian education. With ISB being the first Indian management education institution to earn the AACSB accreditation, it aims to put India firmly on the world management education map.”
The Stanford Graduate School of Business recently announced that, with a $150 million donation, it will launch a new institute that will help alleviate poverty. Called the “Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies,” its aim is to develop research that can help business leaders innovate products and services that will build infrastructure and economic growth, which, according to the school’s website, will help relieve poverty in developing countries.
While relieving poverty may seem like a lofty goal, it might also be based on good business sense. Globalization and increased economic activity in developing countries have created and expanded markets for international business in ways that will play out for years to come. For example, a recent population report released by Goldman Sachs speculated that, because of explosive growth and continuing development in China, the Chinese middle class may be four times as large as America’s by 2030, and will undoubtedly represent a huge business market. It would be logical to assume that efforts to minimize or alleviate poverty elsewhere could generate a whole new class of consumers and associated business opportunities.
It’s official: there are fewer people applying for MBAs now then there were last year. A recent Bloomberg Businessweek study’s finding mirrors those of an earlier study by GMAC: MBA applications were down at most schools this year, after several years of big increases.
Businessweek, after getting data back from the schools on their top 30 MBA programs list (which includes Chicago Booth, the University of Michigan, and Southern Methodist University/Cox, among other schools) confirmed that GMAC was correct in their conclusions that:
A skittish economy, coupled with candidates unwilling to leave their jobs, may be causing some to hold off applying to business school, GMAC noted in its latest survey of application trends. “The impact of economic uncertainty on admissions trends for full-time MBA programs may still be underway,” GMAC said in the report.
Indeed, this seems obvious: that uncertain trends in the larger economy are causing hesitation in many would-be MBA applicants, especially those who are currently employed. However, this does not explain how between 2008 and 2010, at the height of a global financial crisis, the volume of applications for MBA programs were larger than ever, and even increased during this period of radical uncertainty.
Perhaps a couple of other factors have influenced this trend. For one, the previous few years have seen absolutely explosive increases in MBA applications, across the board. According to GMAC, 80% of surveyed two-year MBA programs saw increases in 2008, and 70% of one-year programs saw increases in 2009. These phenomenal increases significantly widened the application pool for MBA programs, effectively making them more competitive. And this increased competition is quantifiable: for example, as applications increased between 2005 and 2010, the average GMAT score for admitted students at NYU Stern School of Business increased 25 points, from 694 to 719. It can be argued that larger application pools have caused schools to become more selective, and this is beginning to drive a reverse effect in that many less-qualified applicants are starting not to apply.
Or, the less-qualified candidates may just be looking for career growth elsewhere. In fact, GMAC reports that as applications for MBA programs are decreasing, they’re actually increasing for other types of programs. A strong majority of surveyed Master in Management programs (69%) have received more applications this year than last; as did 83% of Master in Finance programs.
A potential upside of the decrease in MBA applications is that the high-selectivity trend will reverse. The fewer candidates a school receives, the bigger percentage they will admit to fill the class.
The Aspen Institute’s recently updated Beyond Grey Pinstripes, the list of top 100 top socially- and environmentally- conscious MBA programs, has generated a lot of interest in how business schools are (or are not) developing curriculum that will foster socially sustainable thinking. Fast Company recently interviewed Judy Samuelson, Aspen’s director of business and society, who said that, while b-schools are providing a more ethical and socially-conscious framework for students, in general, they’re still not leading. That may be true, but if anything, Beyond Grey Pinstripes shows that many business schools are starting to take the ideas of corporate social responsibility (CSR) seriously, and that many students are being exposed to this thinking throughout their MBA programs.
So, is this kind of thinking rubbing off on students?
A glance at some recent projects and startups created by MBA students and recent graduates shows that this new type of thinking is indeed having a positive effect, and may be influencing a new breed of businesses that are, through innovation and the adoption of traditional business principles, tackling social and environmental problems.
In a recent episode of Fox’s new sitcom The New Girl, Zooey Deschanel’s normally-frumpy character, Jess, is asked by a male roommate to accompany him as his date to a wedding in order to make his ex-girlfriend jealous. For the occasion, the male roommate tells Jess that she needs to wear a dress that will basically turn heads.
She does, and the episode descends into a zany, mischievous lark, where the ex-girlfriend does not get jealous, but rather happy that the male roommate has moved on and has apparently found somebody else. Jess’ experiences bring up the idea of “erotic capital” – that women (generally, although the concept can apply to men, too) can take advantage of their looks and sex appeal to persuade and coerce.
Catherine Hakim might say that Jess leveraged her erotic capital in an attempt to affect a social situation. Hakim is the author of Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital, a recent book that has been making waves among some book reviewers and social critics.