Dec 20, 2021

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The Top MBA Trends for 2022

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, technological change, political instability, and economic interdependence had disrupted the business world. There are even specific terms and acronyms to describe our modern world, like VUCA: volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.1 Radical change is now viewed as a critical challenge to organizations globally – but it’s also an opportunity.

MBA programs teach students how to prepare for the business world of tomorrow by embracing adaptability and flexibility.2 Unsurprisingly then, the demand for MBA graduates continues to rise. Eighty-three percent of companies planned to hire MBA graduates in 2021, down from a high of 92 percent in 2020 but still higher than any year before that.3

What will the top MBA trends be for 2022? Discover the tools you need to set yourself apart as a competent professional with MBA skills.

MBAs are leading the way in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Artificial intelligence (AI), augmented and virtual reality, blockchain, drones, the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, and 3D printing will define the future of business.4 As a result, the demand for professionals familiar with these technologies and strategies will continue to increase.

More MBA graduate programs are incorporating subjects like data, analytics, and programming into their curricula in response to employer demands. The goal isn’t necessarily to produce graduates who are fluent in these skills but rather to train them to work with and manage people who are.5

A survey of business school leaders found that 95 percent believed incorporating big data into the curriculum was very important. This was followed by experiential learning at 94 percent, digitization at 93 percent, AI at 86 percent, and data visualization at 83 percent.6

Part-time, flexible, and online MBAs grow in popularity

MBAs have been increasing in popularity across the globe.

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) notes in its 2020 Application Trends Survey that 67 percent of all graduate management programs, including MBA programs, reported growth in applications from 2019 to 2020. This growth was most pronounced among part-time, self-paced MBA programs, which saw an increase of 53 percent in applications. Flexible MBAs saw a 48.6 percent increase and online MBAs a growth of 43.5 percent.7

Competition to secure a place, however, can be fierce. Coupled with this is the massive time commitment. A traditional MBA can take anywhere from one to three years to complete, a sacrifice that many business professionals aren’t willing or able to make. For this reason, MBA skills courses offer an attractive alternative for many working professionals.

MBA salaries trending upwards

The trends in salaries for MBA graduates remain positive despite the global economic downturn. The median annual salary increased steadily from 2018 to 2020, reaching a peak of $115,000. That’s 77 percent more than bachelor’s degree holders typically earn.8

While the return on investment is likely to justify the high cost of an MBA, many candidates are simply unable to fund it. The average total cost to study an MBA from one of the world’s top schools is $176,000.9 On-campus or full-time studying also means that you’ll miss out on income – and work experience – during those years.

A movement towards MBA alternatives

Because of these challenges, many working professionals turn to skills-based online short courses – mini or micro MBAs – to enhance their knowledge and careers. These courses last a matter of weeks or months, and cost a fraction of a full master’s program.

Online courses give you the opportunity to immediately apply your learnings to your career, in real-time. It also means you’re able to continually keep your skill set relevant by supplementing your education with other online courses – specific to your role or industry.

MBA preparation courses are becoming more popular

As the demand for managerial and business skills increases and online learning reduces the barriers to entry, professionals from various backgrounds are able to acquire the skills offered by MBA programs.

For the professionals who still wish to complete a full-time MBA, online courses can prepare you for the rigors of getting into and completing this graduate degree, and act as bridging courses.

The University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development (USB-ED) offers a 15-week MBA Essentials online short course, designed to help you prepare for a full MBA and also offers a shorter and more affordable alternative. For those aiming to upskill within their career, the course provides a strong base in managerial accounting, quantitative analysis, and economics. Watch the course trailer here.

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has also developed an MBA Essentials online certificate course. This 10-week course provides participants with hard and soft business skills to maximize their competitive advantage. Watch the course trailer here and read what past students have to say.

Similarly, the Yale School of Management Executive Education offers an Accelerated Management Program. This eight-week program provides learners with core skills and tools for more effective business management.

Given the increase in the demand for MBA skills, the growth in MBA applications, and the number of global MBA offerings, one can expect the number of MBA preparatory programs and alternatives like these to increase exponentially in the years to come – another trend to watch. What’s more, as disruption, change, and uncertainty continue to characterize the business world, professionals with the ability to lead, strategize, and analyze will be highly in demand.

Keen to gain crucial MBA skills without committing to a full-time MBA?
Learn more about these MBA essentials online courses from world-leading business schools.

  • 1 Scoblic, J.P. (Jul, 2020). ‘Learning from the future’. Retrieved from Harvard Business Review.
  • 2 Cook, S. (Apr, 2021). ‘How can an MBA prepare you for the future of work?’. Retrieved from BusinessBecause.
  • 3 Szmigiera, M. (Mar, 2021). ‘Company hiring rates of MBA graduates 2008-2021’. Retrieved from Statista.
  • 4 Likens, S. (Dec, 2020). ‘Eight emerging technologies and six convergence themes you need to know about’. Retrieved from PWC.
  • 5 (Nov, 2019). ‘American business schools are reinventing the MBA’. Retrieved from The Economist.
  • 6 Dawes, W. (Feb, 2020). ‘Business school leaders research: The future of technology in management education’. Retrieved from Association of MBAs.
  • 7 Choudaha, R., et al. (Nov, 2020). ‘The global demand for graduate management education – Application trends survey 2020’. Retrieved from Graduate Management Admission Council.
  • 8 Choudaha, R., et al. (Jun, 2021). ‘Demand of graduate management talent: 2021 Hiring projections and salary trends – Corporate recruiters survey June 2021’. Retrieved from Graduate Management Admission Council.
  • 9 De Novellis, M. (Jul, 2021). ‘Cost of MBA report 2021’. Retrieved from BusinessBecause.