October 23, 2017

"What's Killing U.S. Business Schools?... [T]he University of Wisconsin is in the process of reviewing its graduate business degree programs..."

"... a process that may result in the discontinuation of its two-year full-time MBA program.... The Midwestern school’s program may become the latest casualty in a string of closures of MBA programs around the country. The University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business announced in August that it would end its full-time MBA program. In recent years, Wake Forest University, Thunderbird School of Global Management, Virginia Tech, and Simmons College (the country’s only all-female business school) have shuttered their traditional two-year programs."

Fortune offers 4 reasons explaining what's happening:
1. Non-MBA graduate business degrees are proliferating....

2. Fewer international students are opting for American schools....

3. Undergraduate student debt is ballooning....

4. Top business schools are pulling away from the pack....

80 comments:

Sprezzatura said...

I met w/ a grad school last week.

Cause I'm thinkin' about gettin' another degree.

Architecture not Biz.

mccullough said...

Unlike med school or law school, no degree is required for most business positions because no licensing required (except for CPA).

Sprezzatura said...

Mccullough,

You should delete your comment.

buwaya said...

MBA's were a fad, more than a bit.

I have an MBA, did it over time, 1984-92. It was a way to give some sort of "business" and "management" certs to engineers. Useful to a degree but often vastly overpriced for what it is. Actual material is mostly available in community college.

The best skill it teaches is writing a lot, quickly. I'm not sure that is even the case any more.

Sprezzatura said...

Think engineering (if not the biz I noted already).

Bob said...

All bubbles eventually deflate.

c365 said...

Prof. Althouse might like to read a little Christensen to see his thoughts on what's really disrupting MBA programs.
http://www.economist.com/whichmba/clayton-christensen-still-disruptive
Some of it is there, but you have to youtube watch some videos to really get a feel for the whole theory and its application to the University.

Matt Sablan said...

I never understood the point of this or things like PMT. I read some PMT questions. One was like: "Why do you need a budget?"

Hell if I'm paying 5 digits for a degree that asks things like that.

Sprezzatura said...

"I never understood the point of this or things like PMT."

Cause PMT is awesome:

https://www.podcastone.com/pardon-my-take

Rob said...

I'm tempted to make foolish and borderline-sexist jokes about an all-female business school, but . . . oh, what the hell. "When in the case study the business's profits went down, how did that make you feel?"

Humperdink said...

I went through 30% of my MBA program and then was transferred by my employer. This was 1993. I chose not to resume it. I purchased a small within the next year and never looked back.

Back then, half of the MBA class cycle I was in was comprised 50% international (India) students.

JaimeRoberto said...

Unless you go to one of the top business schools, the bump in salary does not offset the cost of tuition and lost wages for two years, and prospective MBA students theoretically should be the most likely to figure this out.

William said...

The obvious, snarky observation is that a business school should be able to analyze its failings and trajectory. Guess not. Maybe it's like Hollywood and Harvey Weinstein. Too close to the problem to analyze the data, but superb business judgment in other respects.

Titus said...

Wisconsin is not a destination business school.

Bleach Drinkers Curing Coronavirus Together said...

Good riddance.

Isn't this the degree that W. had? From Harvard?

I'm glad for the number of businesses we have. But America's got enough management/business schmucks. What this country needs is people who give a damn about policy.

Sprezzatura said...

"Back then, half of the MBA class cycle I was in was comprised 50% international (India) students."

The Arch-M I talked to last week is 80% foreign.

Americans are getting dumber. As if electing POTUS DJT hadn't already made that obvious.

Sad!

tim in vermont said...

Americans are getting dumber than the old people who voted for Trump? Is that what PB&J is trying to say?

D 2 said...

Listening to a loud kid on the bus once, explaining to another kid, that he wanted to go to business school after high school so he could get others to work for him.
The other kid said he didnt like school (or something) so he said: "guess I'm going to have to work for me"
Small chuckle next to me.

Humperdink said...

A post on MBA's and what do we get? A perfunctory blast at Trump. Shocked.

Where's LLR?

Sprezzatura said...

TinV,

If you want me to say that there are a shit load of bat-shit crazy young (not mention geezer) libs:

Okay.

Start w/ the Berners, and then open the antifa floodgates. Scary stuff. Stuff that can cripple our nation.

But, for some reason most of ya can't see the vulnerabilities associated w/ current con jabber/policy.

rehajm said...

I concur with Titus.

Hari said...

In 2000-2001, there were about 115,000 MBA degrees granted; In 2011-12, there were 190,000, an increase of about 70%
source: https://www.quora.com/How-many-business-graduate-students-are-there-in-the-United-States-each-year

In 2000-2001, there were about 38,000 JD and LLM degrees granted; In 2011-12, there were about 44,500 (an increase of about 17%)
source: https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/legal_education_and_admissions_to_the_bar/statistics/enrollment_degrees_awarded.authcheckdam.pdf

rehajm said...

Seems I recall the presidential President Obama trashed MBA programs while proclaiming the virtue of a government job.

I'm Full of Soup said...

I had always wondered if I should get an MBA but now I am over 60 and thought that now it would just be a "nice to finish and have" but not a plus to my career. So a couple years ago, I saw an online ad for a UNC MBA program. I reached out and they got back to me and said I could do totally remotely from PA where I live. And they would only charge me about $95,000!

Humperdink said...

"But, for some reason most of ya can't see the vulnerabilities associated w/ current con jabber/policy."

Actually it's quite simple, they are not vulnerabilities.

buwaya said...

"Americans are getting dumber. As if electing POTUS DJT hadn't already made that obvious."

#1 gang to blame are the top level of schools of ed - typical ideological guide is, among others, Obama associate Bill Ayers, Professor of Education, UIC. They define the values and goals of schools of education, which provide not just teachers but school management and policymakers.

K-12 education policy in the US is terrible. Those elite foreign kids come out of competitive, tracked systems. They find and develop talent. US schools are ideologically committed to suppressing talent, avoiding tracking. Far fewer US kids are making it to the highest levels of the performance pyramid because only a minority has a route to accelerated programs.

And the content is terrible. The only bright spot is math, where there has been some improvement, a higher rate of AP Calc is a good metric. But every other thing is seriously dumbed down.

Mark Jones said...

The real point of an Ivy League education is not the education; it's being introduced to and assimilated into the ruling class. For a time, getting an MBA promised the same, but now that any college education is expensive, the fact that most MBA programs can't actually do that (there are only so many MBA programs in ruling class parts of the country), it's become a bad bet.

Sprezzatura said...

"So a couple years ago, I saw an online ad for a UNC MBA program. I reached out and they got back to me and said I could do totally remotely from PA where I live. And they would only charge me about $95,000!"

If this was Harvard, we'd be calling you "MBA Lynch."


Just sayin'

Bleach Drinkers Curing Coronavirus Together said...

$95,000.

What a crock.

I'm sure the curriculum can be figured out and reduced to a few good books for purchase.

Many an MBA have driven many a good business into the ground. Like W. did to America, Inc.

Sprezzatura said...

Buw,

You're on to something re math re Arch.

Last week I was at a school w/ a 5% acceptance rate and they were down playing calculus. WTF? I do crazy differential equations for fun [this blog is anonymous, right?...I gots to keep my man card, i.e. only nerds (i.e. not me) read and do math].


Saint Croix said...

how about the cost is not worth the reward

you'd think business school professors could figure that out

The Vault Dweller said...

The MBA as far as advanced degrees go is relatively new. I think most people who wanted to 'get into business' used to get law degrees. I think more and more people are realizing that it doesn't particularly give any special skills needed in business environments that can't be learned in other manners.

Is there a specific type of line of work that one can't get as good a background or not better in some other manner than in an MBA program?

I suspect the closures of schools, like the downsizing of law schools is more linked to the realization among potential students that getting an MBA isn't some guaranteed or relatively easy way get out and start making nice six-figures. I think most businesses realize that actual experience is much more important than one's degree. After all who would you rather have representing you in a court case, a newly minted lawyer fresh out of Harvard, who graduated top of their class, or a lawyer who went to a lower T3 school, but who has been working in that particular area of law for the last 5 years?

stever said...

But, for some reason most of ya can't see the vulnerabilities associated w/ current con jabber/policy.

More likely we've seen lots of people overrating themselves

Richard said...

Blogger AJ Lynch said...
"I had always wondered if I should get an MBA but now I am over 60 and thought that now it would just be a "nice to finish and have" but not a plus to my career. So a couple years ago, I saw an online ad for a UNC MBA program. I reached out and they got back to me and said I could do totally remotely from PA where I live. And they would only charge me about $95,000!"

And you wouldn't have to attend any classes to get your degree!

Humperdink said...

UNC - the school that made "getting a degree without going to class" famous!

Sprezzatura said...

"More likely we've seen lots of people overrating themselves"

If this is meant to incl myself, it's America that has overrated me.

And, I agree. I don't deserve what I gots. If I was born to poor folks in some shit hole country I'd be the king of a mound of CRTs trying to suss out valuable metals.

Instead, I think I'm earning "authenticity points" cause I'm having my line-person get me an early X phone, even though I know I could make a call to get one ASAP, but that seems elitist IMHO.

Bleach Drinkers Curing Coronavirus Together said...

how about the cost is not worth the reward

you'd think business school professors could figure that out


Not worth.... for you or for them?

These are businesspeople, after all. The "you" part doesn't figure into it.

Just what's good for them.

wwww said...

Thunderbird shut down? Wow.

Michael K said...

Useful to a degree but often vastly overpriced for what it is

A lot of doctors got these MBAs that were local schools' cash cows. I don;t know of any that made any use of it.

David in Cal said...

Some years ago I was asked to interview a Harvard MBA. I asked which area of insurance he thought he wanted to work in -- claims, underwriting, accounting, etc. He was a bit surprised. He acknowledged that he would have to start in some specific department, but he expected to move quickly into top management.

buwaya said...

Yeah, Thunderbird.
They were specialists in creating expat managers.
I knew several. The American bosses in AIG in Asia back in the 70s-80s were all Thunderbird I believe.
The loss came with the decline in expat management.
They were expensive and were replaced, largely, by locals.

Sprezzatura said...

"I don;t know of any that made any use of it."

Did ya hear them say that they couldn't hang w/ ya, or jabber w/ ya, or listen to your "brilliance" cause they had to jet cause it was time for classwork?

Maybe the claim that they were in school was useful, but ya don't grasp why.

Greg Hlatky said...


Most useless thing in business: an HR drone with an MBA.

traditionalguy said...

After being tricked into undergraduate degrees that are unmarketible but leave student loan hell debt, the MBA is promoted as a degree that is marketable. Only trouble is that is also a lie too.

The Vault Dweller said...

Did HR departments exist before hostile workplace lawsuits? I can see their value in avoiding litigation, settlements, and judgments, but other than that, do they add value to a company?

Molly said...

I was on a "search committee" for a position that was basically advising undergraduates about how to make schedules that would end up with a degree. But the job announcement said something like "masters degree preferred". And that made it easy for us (on the search committee) to eliminate two-thirds (say) of the applicants. Of course we may have eliminated some really good candidates, but we ended up with a list of really good candidates, so in retrospect, it made our lives easier to just eliminate from consideration those who did not have a "masters degree".

But that experience also illuminated what a broad array there is in the category "masters degree". Masters in education seem to be the "cheapest" masters degrees, but MBAs are a close second, because there are so many institutions granting MBAs. The part time, online, MBA is clearly not as good as the Harvard or Stanford full time day time MBA. But the (say) Georgetown "professional" (weekend "part-time" MBA) is different from (not as good as? -- I don't want to say that) the "regular" full-time daytime MBA program.

Finally, there is the question of whether or not MBA programs are actually providing instruction that employers find useful. Twenty years ago, this seems to be an obvious yes. But MBA programs (as they have become more popular) have added courses and coursework on "group study" and "diversity" that may not be as useful in the real (employer) world as it is imagined that they would be in the academic world.

The Vault Dweller said...

After being tricked into undergraduate degrees that are unmarketible but leave student loan hell debt, the MBA is promoted as a degree that is marketable. Only trouble is that is also a lie too.

MBA will probably open more doors than say, an Art History degree.

Sprezzatura said...

While we fuss about folks mining for coal and we attack the elitist (anti-God) scientists on the coasts who are on the cutting edge of innovation:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/national-security/article179971861.html

Anywho, if we make sure the job-creators get more dough while we move mountains to find coal, it'll all work out.



Ha!

Greg Hlatky said...


Did HR departments exist before hostile workplace lawsuits? I can see their value in avoiding litigation, settlements, and judgments, but other than that, do they add value to a company?

That stuff is for labor lawyers. HR is for otherwise-unemployable twits with useless soft degrees who got their jobs because Daddy Knew Someone.

Sprezzatura said...

Science is for nerds.

Stars and Bars and dominating black athletes is MMGA (Make 'Murica Great Again).

Also, lying about uppity black politicians is cool.

Sprezzatura said...

"Also, lying about uppity black politicians is cool."

FTR, this is the lie re the black-gal pol. I.e., not the lie re BHO being a Kenyan usurper. But, that lie is cool too.

Humperdink said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Be said...

People are starting to understand that current MBAs, like current Law degrees are increasingly useless diversions from actual work life.

wwww said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wwww said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim in vermont said...

for some reason most of ya can't see the vulnerabilities associated w/ current con jabber/policy.


Where can I get me a huntn lahsunce?

bagoh20 said...

Success through business is not easily reduced to textbooks, PowerPoint or a syllabus. It's more organic, situational and dynamic than that. It's more like Kung Fu, where you learn by practice and immersion to react appropriately to stress, attack, and obstacles while conserving resources and acting efficiently. Besides, who is gonna pay for someone to tell you to work harder than everybody else and think cost/benefit, but with passion. There. Done. That will be $95K please. See how it works? Now, go get em, Tiger!

hawkeyedjb said...

"do they (HR) add value to a company?" They subtract value from companies, almost without exception. HR departments are where the parasites hide, the ones that truly believe that Diversity is more important than supply chain, customer sat or process quality. They are evil, useless turds.

The Godfather said...

I always kind of wondered about B-School. What could they teach you in two years that you couldn't learn working for two years, while getting paid? As it happens, my college room-mate went directly into a major Wall Street firm as some kind of trainee and never looked back. He had a very successful career for several big firms and then on his own. I suppose an MBA is a qualification to be a business bureaucrat, if that's what you want to do.

More generally, I suspect that there's relatively little need for most post-graduate education, except for those preparing for an academic career. Perhaps medicine, law, dentistry, maybe some engineering specialties, but I'm not sure what else couldn't be adequately covered in undergraduate education, and OTJ experience.

The big problem is that we don't teach our young people enough in primary and secondary school. That's why we get people like [Trump] [Obama] as President.

glenn said...

“Fewer international students are opting for American schools....”

In a nutshell.

Phil 314 said...

Technically Thunderbird didn't close but was taken over by Arizona State and is now a part of ASU's Business school.

DKWalser said...

Traditional full-time MBA programs are facing increasing competition from online programs. The University of Phoenix may be the largest single competitor, but there are dozens of new programs starting each year. Each one takes students from traditional programs and adds to the perception of employers that an MBA creates little in the way of job skills. It has become just a box to check off on the qualification list. It is no longer a difference maker.

Ray - SoCal said...

A full time mba at an average mba school is $65k + living. Call it $100k. X2 so $200k. Say wages lost of $70k per year. Total cost is now $340k.

For a $10k increase in salary?

Mba programs like law are cash cows. Low cost to run, high return to the school to subsidize other programs.

And you can go to a programmer school cheaper, faster, and higher
Roi.

Top schools have a better roi.

There is also a lot of virtue signaling to get admissions to top schools. Just like the Ivy League.

My daughter is investigating mba schools.

I wish there was a better alternative. I’m very unhappy on the cost.

Yes, I have an mba.

What it offers you is a chance to change careers.

Ray - SoCal said...

Moocs have not take off yet as a higher education alternative. The problem is certification. I thought they would have by now. There is also more foreign competition.

walter said...

anti-de Sitter space said...Americans are getting dumber. As if electing POTUS DJT hadn't already made that obvious.
--
The "smart" route was ole Hil'.
It was high time.
She wanted it.
"HAHAHAHAHA (cough, cough) HAHAHAHAHA!"

Friedrich Engels' Barber said...

Warning - earnest discussion of personal experience: I earned an MBA after previously studying Philosophy. Coming from studying the meaning of meaning and the truth about truth, I found the business curriculum fascinating and have thought ever since that no education would strengthen our society and constitutional government more than mass, broad curriculum, business education, whether MBA or BA doesn’t matter.

Yancey Ward said...

Business schools need to do in-depth case studies on this. [/sarcasm].

stlcdr said...

Larger companies with many layers of management are the career target for MBAs; you can look busy by doing lots of administration.

The future is towards smaller, dynamic, companies with fewer levels - it's been this way a while, now. Which means you have to actually know something and do something. Managing the business part of that is quite simple (simpler than requiring a multi-year degree).

MadisonMan said...

Moocs have not take off yet as a higher education alternative. The problem is certification. I thought they would have by now.

Unions can't allow MOOC-related certification, because too many MOOCs would put dues-paying Union Teachers out of a University Job and the Union would get fewer dues for their President to funnel to Democratic Politicians.

lgv said...

Mine was done in 1982 from Penn State. I was a teaching assistant, which included waiver of tuition and fees. I made $4k a year, plus an internship in the summer, plus hourly pay to write an accounting text book for a professor. It was not only the funnest 2 years of my life, the return on investment was fantastic. I was accepted at Duke, but the cost was significantly higher. The actual job outlook wasn't better there than Penn State either.

1. It parallels law school. If the supply is too great, the return on investment will go down. There are so many MBA programs, the degree will not be a differentiator, unless it is from a top tier school (see #2). The cost of attendance and forgone wages has gotten so high along with the lowering of probability of increased future income.
2. Only top tier schools feed certain industries. If you want Wall Street, Penn State or Wisconsin won't get you in the door. You need top tier and a personal family pedigree.
3. Reality is that our academic institutions are producing a more mediocre product with massive grade inflation. Academic success equates less with work success than in previous generations. Businesses are better off hiring BS only candidates and seeing want they can really do.
4. I loved learning linear programming, multiple regression analysis, and gaming theory, but those skills aren't what gets you to executive management. What gets you there isn't learned in grad school.

If you look at the top corporations and their boards in America right now, you will find that they are not headed by MBAs. If they are, most were not from the Ivy League. Recently I strongly discouraged my nephew from going back to school for an MBA. Whatever job you have, be the best you can. The next promotion will find you. Repeat. I now step down from my box of soap.

P.S. One of the most unproductive employees I ever had in my life was a MBA from Cornell. I could not wait to see him leave.

tim in vermont said...

You have to hand it to good old ADS/Peanut Butters... He sticks by Hilary, stands by his woman, no matter what comes out about her. "It's all lies... LIES!!!"

JohnJMac862 said...

My experience was similar to IGV - early '80s; MBA lived at home and had a graduate assistantship; minimal tuition and was able to save money net after tuition.

Obviously not the same ROI today. The only value to an MBA today is to either network at a top 5 school or to get it online while still working.

Jason said...

For much of the decade, loads of people got MBAs because they were having trouble finding work with their bachelors' degrees. Nothing else to do and they could tell themselves and their peers they were executing some sort of career plan. They could defer their trillion dollars of student loans by enrolling in an MBA, and since the Obama Administration was doing everything in its power to destroy job creation for everyone except public employee union members, corporate diversity consultants and Title IX compliance parasites, the opportunity cost is low.

Now that Obama's gone and businesses are hiring and promoting again, they don't need to mark time in an MBA program.

Now, it may well come to pass that we need MBA programs to weed out bad liberal arts majors that graduated from bad liberal arts programs. If liberal arts programs were worth a damn, young graduates would leave school with the critical thinking and decision-making skills to set them up for upper management in due time. A bit of finishing with technology, math and industry-specific learning they can get from industry groups and mentors while they learned the ropes, and they'd be ready.

Liberal arts programs have become so infested with useless libtard faculty, however, that this is not the case anymore.

Treeamigo said...

In the early 1980s, Wisconsin's program was rated quite highly and it was a one year program (as opposed to the two year norm). Might make sense to revert to that (or at least cut to three semesters, with reduced tuition). Certainly you can cram the curriculum into three semesters if you cut out the busy work and group projects and focus on actual instruction. People learn to apply knowledge gained while in the workforce. An artificial group project at school (where there is no hierarchy, no boss) is just playtime.

Caligula said...

Is it really necessary to note that the value of an MBA has depreciated?

Part of the reason was an oversupply of MBAs, part was everyone noticing that those with MBAs didn't seem to out-perform those without.

There was a time when a liberal arts degree from a top-tier school could at least get the holder a top-tier starting job, but that time is now passing from living memory.

And then was a brief window in which an MBA had similar value. Then, as such degrees became common, it had to be an MBA from a top-tier school

And now? Perhaps MBAs will be back in fashion someday, but, even if you're young you might not live that long.

Eric said...

Business schools have been through this before. In the 1980s universities went on a business school expansion binge and by the end of the decade it pretty much went bust.

Universities liked, and overexpanded, business schools for the same reasons that they liked, and overexpanded, law schools. No labs! You can have pretty large classes! Low cost, high tuition! Rich alumni who give lots of money! Cash cow! But they turn out not to be low-cost operations after all and the hopes and dreams of university planners prove wrong.

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

JaimeRoberto said...
Unless you go to one of the top business schools, the bump in salary does not offset the cost of tuition and lost wages for two years...


You've got it backwards. Paying Ivy League fees for a non-Harvard, -Stanford or -Wharton MBA would be a bad deal. Paying in-state tuition (something native white residents can still enjoy for the time being in California) in the UC system I completed by MBA for about $15K (over three years) in 1996 (while working full time in manufacturing). Within two years my salary had increased by more than what I paid out and I've been "repaid" probably a hundredfold in the ensuing time.

But the best value was in understanding the practical application of the disparate qualifying courses such as calculus, statistics, finance and demographics. It has all informed my sensibilities and been very useful in "real world" scenarios. Between a BA in English Lit and my MBA I've been able to exploit a niche where clear writing and management theory meet. Working for a diversified multinational corporation has allowed me to travel extensively through Europe, USA and Scandinavia, working with brilliant people in ergonomics research, medical device manufacturing, defense avionics, viticulture, jewelry and chainmaille makers.

So it really depends on what you get for your investment in education. Programs with inflated values will continue to lose applicants and "bargain" 2nd and 3rd tier programs will continue to offer entree into a good career with reasonable cost.

Jim at said...

"Americans are getting dumber."

And you wonder why I can't stand people like you.

An election doesn't go your way and your response is to call everybody else stupid.

Arrogant prick.

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Chris Janc said...

MBAs were very relevant when more people pursued liberal arts degrees but are rather useless for those coming out of undergrad with a business degree. The MBA is still relevant to, say, an engineer who desires to move into management at his company. But with the proliferation of "executive" MBA programs in large population centers the 2 year full-time experience has just become less appealing to those looking for a practical intro to business without having to walk away from their jobs and move away from their current lives. This comes down to the fact that there are other options for those with our business degrees in undergrad.