In the context of a global economic downturn, job cuts and higher prices, the recent increase in applications for executive MBA programs throughout the world might seem surprising. MBA study is not cheap and everyone knows that when times are hard, it is often the company training budget that gets cut. But, despite the current climate, interest in the MBA is booming. The Association of MBAs’ autumn Accredited MBA Fair, held in London, was visited by more people in October 2008 than in the last three years, and many business schools are reporting an increase in the take up of their MBA programmes this year.
For those who are still employed but may be facing an uncertain future, taking the MBA part-time or by distance learning also makes sense as insurance against what might be ahead. In an increasingly tight job market candidates benefit from any means of differentiation, and evidence of up to date skills and knowledge are what counts. Employers are also likely to look positively on those who have demonstrated a commitment to learning and self development by investing in MBA study – especially during tough times.
Some employers too, faced with the prospect of making redundancies, are choosing to sponsor MBA study for certain staff, rather than lose them. Employers have learnt from previous recessions that you need to do all you can to hang on to your talent during a downturn, so that the company is ready to respond to the upturn when it comes.
It is important to always research the many business schools and MBA programs on offer before applying. If you have a clear idea of your objectives, areas of interest and budget, your search will be more focused. By considering only accredited schools you can be assured of the programme’s quality and value while still having a wide range of business schools and courses to choose from.
Don’t rely on rankings alone as your guide to business schools, they are a useful indicator of quality but, unlike accreditation, do not represent a truly comprehensive and qualitative validation of the many highly respected MBAs on offer. Most notable is the number of European business schools that have now established a strong international reputation and are strong competitors to the top US institutions. Eight European Business Schools now rank among the top twenty global MBAs. And of the 156 business schools with programs accredited by the Association of MBAs, 100 are based in Europe.
The MBA’s worldwide reputation as the leading business qualification is because it has evolved and changed over time, responding to business needs and changes in the economy. As long as this continues we can be confident of the qualification’s continuing popularity – in good and bad times.