3 trends that are shaping the future of MBA programs

Higher education and its students have continuously evolved throughout the years. Recently, interest in traditional, full-time residential MBA programs has declined, forcing the reimagination of an MBA program.

Here are the three biggest trends shaping the future of MBAs today:

1. More women are pursuing an MBA degree than ever before.

Over the past decade, we have seen a consistent rise in the percentage of women in MBA programs. In 2011, the Forté Foundation found that women made up only 32% of students in some of the top business schools. In contrast, today at FIU, they now make up about 50% of our cohorts.

Institutions are helping in the fight for gender parity in classrooms by creating programs that are generally more flexible, inclusive, and supportive. The increase in female applicants can also be attributed to women seeing themselves as strong candidates, less hesitant about their qualifications.

Other findings by Forté Foundation show:

  • Women with MBAs see pay gains of 55-65% their pre-MBA salary within five years of graduation.
  • Companies with greater representation of women in leadership roles experience, on average, higher return on equity, sales, and invested capital.
  • 85% of female MBA graduates attribute their career advancement to their degrees.

2. Entrepreneurs are giving the MBA degree a second thought.

For many years there was a stigma around entrepreneurs pursuing an MBA degree– citing successful entrepreneurs who were college dropouts (e.g., Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates).

The perception that MBA programs are not useful to entrepreneurs is changing. Business schools have always been an excellent place for entrepreneurs to analyze market trends, develop a business plan, manage finances, and learn to scale a business. Pursuing an MBA can help build your credibility, recruit business partners, and reach investors. It is no secret that MBA alumni networks can be powerful and influential.

Universities are also altering their programs to bring more value to entrepreneurs, with classes and specializations that focus on entrepreneurship and innovation.

3. Residencies are revolutionizing online MBA programs.

Online education is in demand and universities are working to develop programs that give their students maximum value. One aspect of online MBA programs that is enhancing the reputation of online education is the concept of residencies. In fact, they are evolving to a common standard in an online MBA curriculum.

We know that having flexible and virtual MBA programs have helped thousands of busy professionals pursue their education without compromising their current job roles or family time. Adding residences has helped enhance the MBA education experience for these students.

Residencies may require MBA students to meet up, anywhere from a day up to a week, and attend seminars, workshops, and/or participate in group assignments. It’s sometimes the only chance these online students will have to socialize and network with each other – a component of MBA programs that not all online students can take advantage of and one that has significant long-term benefits.

This idea of "online, but not alone" helps you develop personal and professional contacts, allows you to have hands-on experience outside classroom instruction, and puts to work those necessary soft skills that cannot be developed online.

MBA programs are continuously evolving

As business evolves, so must our education. At FIU's College of Business, we say, "always, relevant, always forward." Keeping track of the biggest trends makes sure we are making our MBA degree worth the time and money it takes to earn it.

To learn more about FIU’s Professional MBA programs, attend an information session.

About the Author:

Emily Rodriguez is a content strategist and creator. Passionate about higher education, she has worked with institutions like Hult International Business School, Nova Southeastern University, and her alma mater Florida International University.

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