Prospective business school students are increasingly shunning MBAs in favor of specialist masters degrees that they see as offering a faster and cheaper route to well-paid jobs, according to research.
Two-thirds of those considering a business school place said they would choose a specialist masters degree over an MBA course, the survey by Carrington Crisp, a London-based education marketing group, found.
This was up from 48%in an identical survey conducted by Carrington Crisp last year. The research involved about 1,000 prospective business school students, most of whom were based in the UK.
The growing interest in specialist business masters degrees is partly driven by greater competition for jobs due to record numbers of people attending UK universities. Specialist masters courses can be taken straight after completing an undergraduate degree, unlike MBAs, where work experience is expected on most programmes.
Specialist masters degrees also tend to cost students considerably less in tuition fees than the six-figure sums the most highly regarded MBA programmes now involve. This partly reflects how specialist masters courses often last one year, whereas MBAs usually run for two.
UK employers prefer people with specialist business masters degrees because they are more skilled than those with only undergraduate qualifications, but do not demand the high salaries that MBA students expect. Carrington Crisp’s findings add weight to an argument by some business school deans that higher education institutions should close their MBA programmes.
The University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business announced in August last year that it would be phasing out its two-year course, just months after it had been ranked 84th out of 100 on the Financial Times’ global MBA list.
Other institutions, such as King’s College London, have opted against launching MBA courses in the first place, citing skepticism among employers about the value of the qualification by comparison with specialist business masters degrees.
Just 31% 1,056 prospective business school students taking part in the Carrington Crisp survey said they would probably complete an MBA at some point — a figure unchanged from last year’s research. However, the percentage claiming that a specialist masters qualification would be just as valuable as an MBA increased from about a third last year to almost a half in the latest survey.