The top MBA trends of 2018

4 minutes   |  BUSINESS & MANAGEMENT

The future of the business world is being described in 2018 as VUCA: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous.1 In a space being continually developed and interrupted by shifts in the economy, politics, and technology, it’s imperative to adapt to the new ways in which business is done.

Due to this, the demand for MBA graduates continues to rise. The percentage of companies that hired MBA graduates increased from 50% in 2008 to 86% in 2017. 2

What will the top MBA trends be for 2018 to define both the program, and affect the decision-making of aspiring students? Read on to arm yourself with the tools you need to set yourself apart as a competent professional and potential MBA applicant.

 

1. MBAs leading the way in the fourth industrial revolution

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Luc Craen, Vice President and Managing Director at EU Business School describes how future MBA graduates will be the ones to lead and manage the industrial change movement.3 Since digitisation, machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotisation, and blockchain will define the future of business, the demand for graduates harnessing these kinds of skills will be at an all-time high.

“We’ll not create blockchain specialists, because that’s what corporate education will be able to provide, but what we will do is develop a general grasp of the new trends the digital economy will offer,” says Craen.

Future MBAs will need to provide students with the tools to navigate the complexities of the business environment with technical and digital business management skills. “Techniques from online courses will be brought into the classroom,” says Craen, “The entire vision of delivering an MBA program has totally changed.”

 

2. Two-year loses its allure

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Your traditional two-year and full-time MBA course might be heading into early retirement. According to the Financial Times, the Graduate Management Admission Council said almost two-thirds of two-year MBA courses have seen drastic decreases in applications.4

A growing number of online MBA offerings, compounded with constant traditional MBA offerings has resulted in greater accessibility of the illustrious Master’s programme worldwide. As the demand for MBA skills increases and online learning reduces the barriers to entry, applicants from varying industries and backgrounds are applying for the MBA.

GetSmarter started offering online short courses from the world’s leading universities in 2008, having recognised a growing need for continuous education. In late 2016, the University of Stellenbosch Business School – Executive Development (USB-ED) has collaborated with GetSmarter to offer a 15-week online MBA Essentials short course. The course equips MBA aspirants and business leaders alike with practical knowledge in three MBA subject areas: economics, quantitative methods and managerial accounting.

More recently, the London School of Economics and Political Science developed the MBA Essentials online certificate course in collaboration with GetSmarter that provides students with the skills to scan their strategic environment, dive into the financial details and bring influential strategy to life through the human element of the workforce.

The nature of the course makes it ideal for both MBA preparation and skills development for working professionals uninterested in, or unable to study an MBA. It speaks to online MBA alternatives, as well as the growing trend of MBA preparatory and bridging programmes.

 

3. An overall increase in salary

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MBA students saw a major decrease in salaries after the financial crisis of 2008. Between then and 2014, the average salary of MBA students, three years after graduating increased to a mere 4%, while the average cost of the two-year MBA increased by 44%.

However, as of 2017, salaries are fast-tracking, specifically in the education, transport and logistics and law sectors. The Financial Times estimates, if this continues, the overall average salary could increase up to $150,000 this year.5

But what happens while you’re waiting for that increase in salary? Who’s going to pay the bills while you take a year or two off work to return to full-time studies?

While employer funding plays a significant role in MBA format decisions, online MBAs allow students to continue working. Students can continue to earn, apply their knowledge immediately and study using a cheaper and more flexible learning model.

 

4. A movement towards MBA alternatives

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As online learning becomes more widespread, increasing amounts of working professionals are turning to skills-based online short courses to enhance their knowledge and careers. These niche ‘micro-credentials’ are gaining prominence as a result of their significantly lower costs and adaptability.6

“This is the age of continuous learning,” says Anat Agarwal, CEO of Harvard and MIT’s online learning platform, edX.7

Many students now choose to gain specific business skills via these online short courses, stacking them to form their own MBA-like expertise. Similarly, a number of intensive, online MBA alternatives have become available in recent years.8

 

5. MBA preparation and bridging programmes

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A growing number of online MBA offerings, compounded with constant traditional MBA offerings has resulted in greater accessibility of the illustrious Master’s programme worldwide. As the demand for MBA skills increases and online learning reduces the barriers to entry, applicants from varying industries and backgrounds are applying for the MBA.

To meet this demand, and to prepare potential students for the rigours of getting into and completing an MBA, preparation and bridging courses – like the MBA Essentials – have been created.

Both online and offline, leading educational institutions (such as Harvard, MIT, Imperial College London and Manhattan College) are offering preparatory courses. As with the MBA Essentials, their purpose is to give prospective students a solid foundation in business skills – easing the application process and MBA studies.

Given the increases in the demand for MBA skills, the uptake in MBA applications and the number of global MBA offerings, the number of MBA preparatory programmes and alternatives is expected to increase exponentially in the years to come.


Want to prepare yourself for the contemporary work environment?

Arm yourself with the necessary MBA skills on this MBA Essentials online certificate course.

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