Entrepreneurship, flexibility and career - the future of the MBA

Just like Mark Twain, reports of the death of the MBA are greatly exaggerated.  Yes, the MBA has been in better health, but it’s not about to go away.  However, for many providers, the Tomorrow’s MBA 2016 report from CarringtonCrisp, supported by EFMD, makes it clear that it may be time to think about changing the MBA offer.

As recently as June 2016 Lucy Kellaway in the Financial Times wrote “MBAs are dead … Not one (reader) argues unequivocally that it would be wise to go off and spend up to $160,000 on getting a qualification that may not make you any more employable at the end of it”.  In the same month, a headline in the Which MBA? section of The Economist suggested “Nothing special: MBAs are no longer prized by employers”.

In 2015, almost a third of the total GMAT tests taken were used to apply to specialist Masters rather than MBAs.  In the five years leading up to 2015, the number of GMAT tests taken globally has fallen from 258,192 to 247,432, although the 2015 tests taken were higher than 2013 and 2014.   

The 2016 Tomorrow’s MBA report examined the views of 1,000 prospective MBA students and suggests three areas where change may be overdue: curriculum, delivery and careers. 

First, curriculum.  Almost 1 in 5 of prospective students are motivated to study an MBA, because they plan to start their own business.  Whether it’s entrepreneurship, innovation, change management, raising finance, providing an incubator or offering internships in start-ups, program content needs to ensure it helps to meet candidate aspirations.

Second, delivery.  The full-time two-year MBA remains the most popular choice of candidates in this year’s report, but only just.  The full-time one-year MBA is almost as popular, less than 2% behind the two-year option.  Almost half the study respondents would prefer a blended, part-time or Executive MBA.  Technology is shaping the future of learning and the MBA is not immune.

Third, career.  Careers and career services need to be front and centre when it comes to promoting and delivering an MBA offer.  Careers can’t just be an add-on, a nice to have.  Almost three-quarters of the study respondents want to know how career planning and job search are integrated in to the student experience

And these are not the only forces promoting MBA change.  This year’s study had a record number of women candidates taking part in the study, noted the growing international competition from MBA providers and the rising numbers taking a pre-experience Masters rather than waiting to study an MBA.

The MBA is here to stay, but in many places it will look different, it will be the MBA 2.0, 3.0 or beyond.


PDF copies of the Tomorrow's MBA 2016 report can be purchased on the CarringtonCrisp website.  For more information, click here.

To take part in the next round of the Tommorrow's MBA study, running from early November 2016, email us at and we will send further details.

Votes: 30