Another graduate field might be running into trouble

American graduate business programs might start losing students, according to one key indicator.  This has several interesting implications for higher ed.

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The key datapoint is the number of students taking the GMAT business school exam.  That’s gone down two years in a row.  And

Some 87,000 U.S. citizens took the exam from July 2013 to June 2014, a 33 percent drop since 2009, when over 130,000 Americans took the test.

Actually, the article also mentions a longer, “seven-year slump” is business school interest.

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Why the decline?  The Crain’s piece cites two reasons: criticism of the MBA from business leaders and a sense of economic recovery.

This matters for several reasons.

  1. Any academic field can suffer a decline, even one so apparently strong as business.
  2. Cultural and economic developments can push would-be students away from higher education.  Compare with law school, or some of the most challenged humanities fields.
  3. As with much of higher ed, international students are keeping business schools going:

“While applications from Americans have grown since 2012, when only 22 percent of schools saw the number of domestic applicants rise, more schools reported bumps in foreign applications last year. Nearly two thirds of the programs surveyed said foreign applications were up in 2014…

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Let’s keep an eye on this.

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3 Responses to Another graduate field might be running into trouble

  1. Erik Simpson says:

    Very interesting, Bryan. Not a flattering light to shine on the latest move by the University of Iowa:

    • Whoa! AIB looks pretty bad in that article, both on its fundamentals (debt, enrollment) and attitude (fake transparency).
      If we see a drop in MBA interest, that’ll certainly worsen things.

  2. Pingback: Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2015: Standardized Testing | Co-Opt-Ed

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