The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

MBA programs see decline

The Masters of Business Administration is commonly thought of as the all-purpose degree. Often seen as a requirement to rise to the upper echelon of the business world, the MBA has been taking hits in the number of applicants across the country over the past two years. After trending up for several years, a recent report finds the applicant pool is shrinking.

Overall applications for two-year, full-time MBA programs starting this fall dropped an average of 9.9 percent since 2009, and part-time programs are down 7 percent, according to a report released by the Graduate Management Admission Council, an organization of graduate business schools.

Here at Marquette, the decline is even sharper. Applications to Marquette’s MBA program, which includes both full- and part-time students, dropped 24 percent from last year, according to Jeanne Simmons, associate dean of the Graduate School of Management.

“We’ve been tracking the numbers carefully,” Simmons said. “We have not changed our admission requirements at all so the quality of the students stayed the same.”

Executive MBA programs, an advanced degree typically associated with more experienced businesspeople have also seen drops in applicants across the country, according to Mike Desiderio, the executive director of the Executive MBA Council. The EMBA Council is a worldwide association of 310 executive MBA programs.

Desiderio said applications to such advanced programs have dropped from an average of 93 per school last year to 83 this year. Although he couldn’t pinpoint any direct cause to the decrease, Desiderio suggested the economy played an important factor in students looking at taking on the debt associated with the programs.

According to, the average price of an MBA program is $40,000 per year, but it can range from $8,000 to upwards of $60,000 annually. In many cases, MBA students often work at a company while they are in school, and many companies help students pay for graduate schooling. Simmons said 80 percent of Marquette MBA students are employed full time — making them part-time students.

Simmons said companies have recently begun cutting back on reimbursement benefit plans for their employees who work and attend school on the company’s dime. She said these reductions, coupled with the downtrodden economy, have played a major role in prospective students rethinking going to business school.

Brian Manthey, a spokesman for WE Energies, said the company reviewed all of its benefits programs in 2009, and then revamped many programs, including tuition reimbursement. He said it was not a direct reaction to the economy but rather normal budget reviews to maintain effective benefits for employees.

Manthey said the reimbursement program specifically became more focused and clear-cut, allowing the company to reimburse employees up to a certain level in fields relevant to their work.

“It’s a balancing act with benefits,” Manthey said. “Sometimes pressure on other (benefit) areas carries over and we look at how we can continue certain programs not at the cost of others.”

Reimbursement of executive MBA programs by employers are also trending down. Desiderio said in 2010 29.6 percent of students in executive programs received full reimbursement for earning their degree. In 2011, the number dropped to 27.3 percent.

When it comes to benefiting from an MBA, Simmons said it is a “marriage” of the degree with real work experience. She said non-business students with technical backgrounds, such as engineers, often do well by receiving an MBA to move to higher ranks within a company.

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