MBA enrollments falter with economy
Pittsburgh universities report fewer students are seeking master's degrees in business administration, reflecting a national trend, but officials are hopeful a stronger economic climate eventually will encourage more to enroll in MBA programs.
A recent survey by the Reston, Va.-based Graduate Management Admission Council found nearly 62 percent of MBA schools nationwide reported declines in applications for full-time programs this year. Thirty-two percent said they had increases.
Directors at universities with declining MBA applications said potential students might be staying in current jobs or forgoing the degrees altogether.
“Our enrollment of full-time students in the program has been down about 7 percent over the past few years,” said John Delaney, dean of the Katz Graduate School of Business at the University of Pittsburgh.
The program accepted 100 to 110 full-time students, Delaney said. The class of 82 that started in August reflect the lowest application number since 2008 and the fewest number of students accepted.
Up to 45 percent of those enrolled in Pitt's MBA program are international students, many brought here by overseas companies with Pittsburgh offices.
“We like that mixture because we are in a global economy, and this provides our domestic students with an opportunity to talk with and experience working with international students,” Delaney said.
The decline in applications stems from the fact that most full-time MBA students have historically followed a well-worn path to their degree: Spend a few years in the working world before heading back to school to gain skills and a degree they expect will lead to a jobs upgrade. But many professionals are unwilling to leave good jobs today, given the uncertain economy, said Avi Gordon, director of the MBA Admissions Studio, which counsels people on MBA applications.
Earning an MBA can pay off: Students in the two-year program typically receive internships with companies between semesters, and those in the one-year program frequently find jobs shortly after graduation, Delaney said.
“Within three years, because of their MBA degree, their income is sufficient to pay back the cost of their tuition,” he said.
According to figures at educationnews.org, MBA professionals in Pittsburgh earned an average of $140,090 a year in 2010, the latest numbers available.
Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business is among those reporting more applications, though the school could not supply numbers.
“Over the past five years, we have seen an overall increase of applications after the first application deadline,” spokeswoman Barbara Donehue said. The deadline to apply for the fall 2013 term is Oct. 22.
Duquesne University acknowledged flat enrollment for MBA programs over the past five years but said an accelerated one-year program is gaining popularity.
“Fewer students are signing (up) for the two-year programs and more are entering the one-year MBA-sustainable program, or a specialized one-year master's program,” said Dean Alan Miciak of the John F. Donahue School of Business.
Duquesne advertises its MBA-sustainable program as “rigorous, concentrated study of leading-edge business management practices.” It attracts early- and mid-career professionals seeking degrees in accounting, information systems and finance.
“Normal class sizes are 25 to 30 in the full one-year program, and about 25 each for the specialized master programs, but our evening program has about 250 students, most with jobs, who obtain their degree in about three years,” Miciak said.
Next fall, Duquesne intends to offer online options with some programs, he said.
Enrollment fluctuated at Robert Morris University after the school in 2009 closed its Downtown campus and sold the building.
“We effectively lost about half the number of candidates we receive for our MBA programs,” said John Clark, director of the school's MBA program.
Total enrollment — that is, new and returning students — perked up in 2010 with 175, from 131 the year before. In fall 2011, that enrollment reached 173; this fall, it fell to 133. The decline results from fewer returning students, though the number of new students has increased or remained the same, Clark said.
“All our MBA programs are in the evening, so about 90 percent of the students have jobs,” he said.
Ten years ago, enrollment declined when the school raised tuition, Clark said. Inquiries seem to be going up, he said.
Sam Spatter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Wolf reverses Corbett, says deal between Highmark, UPMC doesn’t limit continuity of care to very ill
- Unemployment rate continues to drop as U.S. adds 295K jobs
- Big banks’ levels of capital strong, Federal Reserve finds
- IPO might test Etsy’s approach to commerce
- Researchers: U.S. lacks proving ground for nuclear energy innovations
- Americans see improved job market but a vulnerable economy, Pew poll finds
- AbbVie to buy leukemia drugmaker Pharmacyclics for $21 billion
- Race toward bigger phones eases
- Worker productivity falls faster than estimated; labor costs rise
- Stocks snap losing streak as ECB reveals stimulus start date
- Impact fees garner support from state community leaders