Emerging Opportunities for Business Schools

New Program Development


Due to an increasing range of skills required by business, the accelerating pace of change, and a need for continuing education, new programs have emerged.

Business schools are faced with extraordinary opportunities to expand the portfolio of programs they offer in response to the changing environment and expectations. The future favors more specialization, enabling more and more options or choices for potential learners. The diversity of expectations is growing among students, and companies are expecting graduates to “hit the ground running” with a deeper base of knowledge, as well as with the right skills. Meanwhile, technology is enabling schools to create more combinations of courses and modules with the same resources. And learners are consuming education from multiple providers.

Business schools are becoming less and less defined by what used to be the core undergraduate and MBA degree programs. Already, specialized master’s degree programs are growing relative to generalist master’s (including MBA) programs. Similarly, the industry is seeing more and more programs built on verticals, such as health care, leisure, and aerospace, and cultural context, such as managing in China. Structurally, schools are offering more pathways to the same or similar credentials, through different program lengths, online or hybrid delivery, and various locations. Often these program options target different age demographics. For example, specialized master’s programs often target pre-experience bachelor’s degree graduates, while courses on new business creation might target “retiring” executives.

Business schools are becoming more deeply rooted in their communities, suggesting a prominence of education programs that leverage local strengths. And there are opportunities to more proactively broaden the target market beyond the private sector to include the public and nongovernmental organization sectors. This opportunity is especially important for leadership development, an area around which business schools have built an academic literature but still have not exploited across sectors.

For graduate programs, the dominant expectations of “career changers” and “career enhancers” have made room for a third category, aspiring entrepreneurs, who are individuals planning to start their own businesses, either before, during, or after earning their degree. Aspiring entrepreneurs now represent 28 percent of the respondents to the 2014 mba.com survey hosted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). That’s up from 19 percent in 2010.

With the pace of change accelerating, more programs will need to be designed with flexibility in mind. The future will have many jobs and companies that don’t exist today; and there are many jobs and companies today that will not exist in the future.

Related Resources

Neil Braun, Dean of the Lubin School of Business at Pace University, talks about adapting to new demands on skill sets.

Training the Human Brain
With advances in technology and computing power, Joanne Li, dean of the Raj Soin College of Business at Wright State University believes it is more crucial then ever to train students in interpersonal skills and creative brainstorming.

New Model for Business Education, Inside Higher Ed
Interview with Daniel L. Everett and Gordon Hardy, both of whom edited a collection of essays which critique traditional undergraduate business education.

Creating Lifelong Learning Through Service-Learning, Business Education & Accreditation
Explores the value of service-learning through a study which measures the critical learning aspects in multiple marketing courses using the same applied project.

Technologically Enhanced Education at Public Flagship Universities - Opportunities and Challenges, Ithaka S+R
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Reimagining Higher Education: How Colleges, Universities, Businesses, and Governments Can Prepare for a New Age of Lifelong Learning, Deloitte University Press
Explores the emerging landscape of higher education, and how an educational experience may look different in the future in regard to pedagogy, recruitment, admissions, learning trajectory, employment expectations, and other factors.

2015 MBA.com Prospective Students Survey Report
This 2015 mba.com Prospective Students Survey Report by GMAC explores the motivations, career goals, preferred program types, financial choices, decision time lines, and intended study destinations of individuals interested in pursuing a graduate management education.

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