Written by Joanna Hughes

A recent Forbes article proposed that in an era of disruptive innovation, full-time MBAs are being superseded by other options. Is the writing really on the wall for the conventional b-school program? Here’s a closer look.

The Cost Conundrum

In “The Demise of The Full-Time MBA,” education and digital learning expert Michael Horn points to a trend in which business schools are reining in -- or shuttering completely -- their full time-time MBA programs. The cause? Multiple factors, starting with the high cost of full-time MBA programs. Not only does this leave many students unwilling to pay for anything less than a top-tier program, but it also prices out employers who are simply unable to offer high enough salaries to offset the lofty price tag of full-time degrees.

As a result, says Horn, the market has “shifted significant momentum to shorter part-time and more convenient online MBA programs, as well as other forms of management education.”

New, More Direct Delivery Methods

“In the early years of an industry, when the service isn’t good enough to satisfy the functionality needed in mainstream markets, the architecture tends to be interdependent and proprietary in nature. That is, for an organization to do anything, it has to do everything,” proposes Horn,  

But what happens when functionality begins to outpace customer needs? Products and services become more modular in nature while placing a premium on speed, convenience and customization. In other words, explains Horn, “The careful linear sequence of an MBA program from one source has become less necessary with the explosion in resources and ways to connect and utilize them.”

That being said, while many MBA programs are evolving to avoid extinction, demand for top-tier MBA programs remains strong -- for the time being, anyway. But failure to innovative may ultimately catch up with them. “Elite brands can certainly get commoditized and lose their luster if they don’t respond nimbly to exploding demand and new entrants,” insists Horn.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.
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