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Executive Education

Survey shows boom in part-time MBAs

By Peter Walker for CNN
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(CNN) -- Traditionally, aspiring executives aiming at an MBA would drop everything to study full time for a year or more, confident the loss of income and career break would be fully compensated for in future years.

Not any more.

According to a newly-released survey, far more students are now taking MBAs part time, combing them with their jobs or other commitments, such as families.

Around four-fifths of MBA students are now eschewing the full-time option, according to the survey of MBA deans and program directors around the United States conducted by Georgia State University's J. Mack Robinson College of Business.

The study was done in conjunction with the MBAWP (MBA for Working Professionals) Affinity Group of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), the premier accrediting agency for business schools in the United States.

The idea of a full-time course was too much for many prospective students, according to H. Fenwick Huss, dean of the Robinson school.

"Approximately 80% of today's MBA students are going to school part-time," he said. "The cost of full-time studying, in forgone salary as well as tuition, is just too great for a lot of prospects to consider full-time programs.

"In addition, as the survey indicates, the reputation of part-time programs has risen over the past five years, making them more attractive than ever."

CEOs-turned-teachers

Another major trend identified by the survey is that of top executives swapping the boardroom for the classroom and teaching in business schools.

This was highlighted earlier in 2006, when the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced that high-profile former General Electric CEO Jack Welch would teach students leadership techniques from his best-selling book, Winning.

Of the respondents to the survey, 70% said they expected to see more executives turn to teaching at business schools during the next five years.

This is a popular move -- even more of those answering the questions, an overwhelming 77%, said they would support changes in the accreditation standards to help this happen.

Welch "may be the most high-profile executive in the classroom, but he won't be alone," Huss noted.

The survey drew 105 responses, 66% of them deans with public institutions and 34% with private.

Among other notable findings was an increasing wariness about the popularity of online MBAs, with more than half the deans saying they were concerned about this.

Other things giving deans headaches include trying to adapt the school's curriculum to keep pace with business changes, ranked as a top challenge by 51% of the deans. Another major problem was seen as making students feel an attachment to the school.

Additionally, the survey found, the growth of part-time MBAs has helped more women enroll -- at 56% of the schools surveyed have seen more female students sign up.


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Anytime, anywhere: many part-time MBA students work at home in the evening.

FACT BOX

FT's Executive MBA Rankings
1. Wharton, U.S.
2. Hong Kong UST, China
3. London Business School, UK
4. Instituto de Empresa, Spain
5. Fuqua, Duke, U.S.
6. Chicago GSB, U.S.
7. Columbia, U.S.
8. Kellogg, U.S.
9. Stern, NY, U.S.
10. Cass, City University, UK
Source: Financial Times 2006

FACT BOX

EMBA SNAPSHOT

Executives taking the top EMBA courses in the U.S., Europe and Asia have average salaries of around $130,000 to $200,000.

A typical EMBA student is likely to be aged in the early 30s, with 6-10 years of working experience.

A top EMBA course can cost $100,000. Customized courses start at a few thousand dollars.

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