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More US Schools Shutting Down Full-Time MBA Programs

With applications to the full-time MBA falling in the strong job market, more schools are retiring the degree to focus on part-time and specialized courses
BY Braingain Staff Writer |   15-06-2019

BrainGain Magazine
The T-shirt that the last batch of graduates of the full-time MBA program at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business got from the school.

Businessman and philanthropist Henry B Tippie’s rural Iowa beginnings are a sharp contrast to the sprawling 187,000 square foot postmodern Pappajohn Business Building that houses the University of Iowa’s 160-year-old Tippie College of Business one of the oldest and top ranked business schools in the United States.

End of an era at Tippie
The 42 University of Iowa graduates who got their MBA degrees in May marked the end of an era for the Tippie College of Business: they were its last class of full-time MBAs.

In the lead-up to the school’s graduation ceremony, the Tippie College of Business designed T-shirts as a gift for the graduating class.

“Iowa full-time MBA: You can’t get in,” the shirt declared, a nod not just to the college’s prestige, but also to the fact the 42 students who received full-time professional MBA degrees in May were the last.

Shifting resources online
The business college announced in August 2017 it was retiring the full-time degree to focus more on its part-time and specialized offerings.

There is a growing list of US business schools who are taking a leaf out of Tippie’s playbook. They are shutting down their flagship MBA programs in favor of shorter, specialized masters and online degrees.

Gies College of Business
The University of Illinois’ Gies College of Business has become the latest school to announce that it is getting out of the full-time, on-campus MBA market. Instead, Gies will focus more aggressively on its online MBA option, the $22,000 iMBA, which has seen big growth since being launched in 2015.   around 2,000 students are now enrolled in that program.

Why is Gies giving up on its full-time MBA? “For one thing, the school admits it is losing money on the program,” reported Forbes. The full-time MBA at Gies costs $58,000 or more in tuition and fees, and it is expected to lose $2 million this year.

“While it may surprise many observers given how high tuition rates are for MBA programs, many of these programs are actually loss leaders or “show” programs to get a US News ranking,” reported Forbes.

Decline in MBA applications
Applications to most MBA programs have declined for years in a strong US job market, languishing last year even at elite schools like Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Despite the University of Illinois’ full-time MBA being ranked in the top 50 by US News, applications to Gies’ full-time MBA program fell to 290 this year from 386 in 2016. The school enrolled fewer than 50 full-time students in each of the past three years.

“If you were able to get every dean in the US under a lie detector, outside of maybe the top 20 MBA programs, every one of them would admit they were struggling to maintain enrollment and losing money on the program,” Jeffrey Brown, dean of the Gies College of Business at the University of Illinois, told “The Wall Street Journal.”

Thinning the herd
Some smaller, regional schools have followed through with plans to close their full-time programmes.

Several smaller US regional schools are finding they have sub-optimally-sized programs that can’t support the expenses required to deliver a quality program. “That is why we have seen a number of schools drop out of the full-time MBA market,” reported Forbes.

Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business and Wake Forest University in North Carolina have wound up their full-time MBA program over the last couple of years. The list also includes the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University, and Simmons College, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Between 2014 and 2018, the number of accredited full-time MBA programs in the US shrank 9% to 1,189, with schools reporting 119 fewer two-year degrees in the most recent survey by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

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