MBA Programs and Partnerships

With the increase in demand for an MBA both in terms of students and corporations, a vast variety of types of programs have come onto the global market. Additionally, there is a wide range in the ways and combinations of courses that are being offered.

Variety in Offerings
At present, there are five widely recognized types of MBA programs available in various parts of the world. A quick overview of the types of MBA include:

Distance-learning MBA - A distance-learning MBA program is usually internet-based though in some parts of the world where internet is less reliable, other media elements may be utilized.

Executive MBA - An executive MBA is more descriptive of the target audience, than how it is delivered. The most common delivery format for an EMBA program is in short, intensive periods (usually ranging from one week to one month in length) where participants attend classes at a university, satellite, or other setting.

Flexible MBA - A flexible MBA program allows a student to select courses that are of interest to them to work toward an MBA with a desired emphasis. Though there are several of these programs primarily in the U.S., the flexible approach is the slowest growing of all MBA programs.

Full-time MBA - A full-time MBA program is for students that desire to focus primarily on their education often without work responsibilities. Most often, the full-time approach is held on a university campus.

Part-time MBA - A part-time MBA program usually consists of a three plus year program that is held on a campus or satellite location.

According to a 2007 survey reporting the "Net Trend in Total Application Volume," program growth rates are as follows: (1)

Part-time MBA 46%

Online MBA 43%

Executive MBA 40%

Full-time MBA 36%

Flexible MBA 18%

There is significant growth in MBA participation in general and the higher growth rates in the part-time and online programs than other formats. This is due to a couple of key factors. One of these is a growing number of professionals that are returning after some years of experience to earn their MBA degree. With ongoing work and family responsibilities for many candidates, an increase in coursework that offers more variance in scheduling and portability of work is to be expected. A second factor impacting MBA trends is an increase in part-time and online programs due to universities offering courses in other geographic locales. This expansion has led some universities to take a go-it-alone approach, while others have looked for strategic partnerships.

Growth in Partnerships
There is an increase in the level of partnership that is occurring in MBA education throughout the world. One example of this is the partnership formed between Wharton in the U.S. and INSEAD with campuses in Fountainebleu, France and Singapore. While a partnership such as this brings a number of benefits, one of the main benefits according to the respective deans is the increased global presence and experience it brings to their students and alumni.

Other partnerships are forming throughout the world. A number of western universities have formed partnerships with local universities to make an MBA available in a range of countries including the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). These types of partnerships are also occurring in many other markets such as South Africa, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dubai, and Mexico.

A new form of partnership is beginning to emerge where expertise is coming from a number of partners to provide a high quality MBA offering. One example of this exists with the VLC corporation who is providing state-of-the-art distance-learning using virtual-reality. Having prepared a customizable frame-work, VLC works with a small number of universities including Indiana Wesleyan University to make available several MBA offerings. In this form of partnership, the university has complete quality control oversight. These programs are then marketed and given local expertise by working with training and development companies in a broad range of global markets from Brazil to Russia.

Types of MBA Programs
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of specialized MBA programs available. This range includes but is not limited to concentration in finance, legal, marketing, IT, entrepreneurship, human resources, international business, executive management, etc. While these emphases bring new opportunities for specialization in a field, candidates should examine their planned career path to determine what is best for them.

Whereas some candidates desire to be an expert in a particular field, placing emphasis in that field in MBA education is highly desirable. Some candidates are looking for experience in a range of areas so that he or she can continue to have new challenges in the workplace and/or move toward upper management ranks. For these candidates, selecting a program that has elements of their specialty with a broad enough specialization that lateral and vertical moves can be successfully made is highly beneficial.

(1) "Application Trends Survey" of the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), 2007.

"Net trend is calculated as the percentage of programs reporting an increase in application volume minus the percentage of programs reporting a decrease in application volume."