RALEIGH, N.C. — Three years of an economic recovery characterized by sluggish job growth is proving to be a significant deterrent for would-be Master of Business Administration students.
A recent survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council found that nearly two out of three MBA schools nationwide — 62 percent — reported declines in applications for their full-time programs this year.
The problem 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 ultimately will lead to a job 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.
“It used to be people were very confident if they left their job they would find another one,” Gordon said.
The challenging job market also is affecting part-time MBA programs. Since the recession hit, cost-conscious companies have been cutting back on helping out with some or all the tuition for employees who go back to school to further their career.
Another damper on applications to part-time programs is that people with jobs are worried about the time commitment given the demands of their jobs, said Denise Rotondo, dean of the business school at Meredith College in Raleigh.
“A lot of folks are telling us they are too busy at work,” Rotondo said. “They are concerned about looking like they have a priority other than their job.”
Sherry Wallace, director of MBA admissions for the full-time program at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, said applications for full-time programs have always been cyclical and based in large part on prospective students’ perceptions of their post-MBA job prospects.