A typical student in Duke’s one-year Master’s in Management Studies program is 23 years old with less than six months of work experience. Almost exactly half of the class is female. And in 2015, these students paid $48,900 for tuition.
Contrast that with the traditional full-time MBA student, whose average age is 29 and who has about five years of work experience before the program. Only about one-third of the MBA class at Duke is female. And, in 2014, students paid $58,000 for tuition.
At Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Business, the tuition difference between Master’s in Management Studies and Master’s in Business Administration is almost double — $48,000 versus $88,400 on tuition alone. With room and board plus other fees, the full cost of a Master’s in Management Studies is $72,632 at Kellogg and an MBA is $124,570.
In Europe and Asia, the draw of a Master’s in Management, or MiM, has been clear for decades. Students flock to the cheaper business program that allows them to continue their studies straight through after a bachelor’s degree. CEMS Global Alliance in Management Education brings together 29 schools across the globe with the highest quality Master’s in Management degree programs. Just a single school per country is allowed in the alliance and no U.S. business schools have been accepted yet.
While universities in the United States have been slower to launch MiM programs, CEMS Executive Director Roland Siegers is convinced the Master’s in Management is about to take off here, too.
MBA programs are saturated. Fewer employers are willing to finance them for their companies’ rising stars, and enrollment is down.
“Domestic demand for business education cannot grow much more so if business schools want to stay in the game with the competition that is there and also focus on students from Asia, Europe and different parts of the world, who will probably seek different qualifications, I think they will probably have to differentiate their portfolios,” Siegers said.
Already, many schools are diversifying by offering MBA programs online. The dean of Berkeley’s Haas School of Business predicted last year that half of all U.S. business schools would close in five to 10 years, in part because the bigger brand schools would increase their reach through online programs.
In Europe, Siegers said the state-funded education systems don’t have to deal with the volatility that tuition-based U.S. universities must contend with. As MBA programs become less reliable cash cows on many campuses, he expects the MiM to gain steam.
“In an environment where you need to break even, if you have a real business to run, this is a diversification of the portfolio,” Siegers said.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently launched an online MBA program as a massive open online course, powered by Coursera’s online platform. It will charge students $20,000 for an MBA, almost $2,000 less than UIUC’s in-state MBA tuition and less than half of what it costs for the whole program, including living expenses and other fees.
Instead of seeing this as greater competition, Siegers finds news of the UIUC-Coursera partnership to be welcome additions to the business education landscape. He sees incredible demand from Asia and great potential in sub-Saharan Africa and Colombia.
In most places, women are making up a substantial portion of the student body. While traditional MBA programs have long been criticized for their low enrollment of women, MiM programs are much more balanced. Over all of the CEMS schools, women make up almost exactly half of all MiM students. In one extreme example of the draw for women, the CEMS Hong Kong affiliate attracts a MiM student body that is 85% female. Because the program is less expensive and can be done early in one’s 20s rather than later, it is seen as a more family-friendly option.
But looking toward the future of business education, Siegers sees growth all around, not just in MiM programs at the expense of MBAs.
“I’m convinced we’re going to see great diversification,” Siegers said, “and there’s going to be a space for all of us.”
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