Selcuk Erenguc, Bertrand Guillotin and Ana Portocarrero analyse why and how masters programmes are developing in the US.
In the past decade, specialised masters (SM) programmes have gained popularity in the US. The 2008 global financial crisis added fuel to the growth in SM programme enrolments.
In the aftermath of the crisis, many US business schools were greatly disrupted and responded to the new environment by diversifying their programme offerings.
Out of necessity and due to a mature and ultracompetitive MBA market, coupled with reduced funding, US business schools were essentially catching up with their European peers. As seen in Figure 1, from 2005 to 2014, enrolment in SM programmes at 32 of the top 50 Best Business Schools ranked by U.S. News & World Report grew by more than 100% from 5,078 in 2005 to 10,256 in 2014.
The EFMD Conference on Master Programmes held at Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM) in France in late 2014 gave scholars and practitioners from both sides of the Atlantic the opportunity to share their insights about this diversification experiment.
This article will discuss the presentation of two US business schools: University of Florida’s Hough Graduate School of Business (HGS) and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business (FSB).
First, though, the US education market for SM degrees in business will be addressed in terms of trends and rationale for its growth. Second, the pros and cons for business schools of this market development will be discussed. Finally, recommendations to business school leaders and administrators will be made so that best practices can be learned and potentially applied.
SM programmes are designed for individuals, generally without work experience, who wish to enhance their business acumen and improve their career prospects. These programmes provide students with a more in-depth and focused education that allows them to develop specialised skills sets. SM graduates fill a gap in the employment market in that they are specialists and do not command as high a salary as MBA graduates. In addition, they are typically younger than MBA graduates and are more open to geographical relocation.
One question that intrigues business school administrators is whether or not SM programmes are cannibalising the MBA.
The enrolment trends displayed in Figure 1 may, in general, provide some support to the cannibalisation question, at least for the 32 business schools included. Figure 1 indicates that for the 32 schools over the past decade, total MBA enrolments stayed more or less level while SM enrolment grew significantly.
Whereas European business schools have been offering SM programmes for decades (the MBA market never really developed on the Old Continent), their US counterparts were late to the game. Maybe the steady growth of domestic applications was sufficient until 2005 or so.
For the full article, you can view the PDF or listen to the podcast.
See more articles from Vol.09 Issue 02 – ’15 – Special Masters Supplement.