Shorter Everything: Why the MiM Is Going Global

Article Icon Article
Thursday, January 11, 2024
By Nick Harland
Photo by iStock/Drazen Zigic
Increased global interest in the one-year Master in Management is a reflection of shifting student tastes.
  • Most European MiM programs have reported a decline in applications since 2019.
  • By contrast, interest in the MiM has steadily risen in North America and Asia over the same period. This could continue to grow as more schools launch new programs.
  • The rise of the MiM mirrors the rise in popularity of shorter graduate business degrees in general.

An MBA may be one of the most prestigious qualifications in the world, but that doesn’t make it immune from economic uncertainty. As major employers continue to delay the hiring of MBAs and freeze salaries, many prospective students are instead turning to alternative programs—including the Master in Management (MiM).

Once considered a European degree, the one-year MiM is now growing in popularity across the globe. Let’s take a look at the reasons behind the MiM’s rise, and what might come next for it.

Key Differences Between the MBA and MiM

Although MBAs and MiMs teach broadly similar topics related to management, they differ in a few important ways.

  • While an MBA is targeted at students who have already spent a few years in the workforce, an MiM is for younger, less experienced candidates. According to research from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), 76 percent of MiM applicants have less than two years of work experience. On the other hand, the average MBA student tends to have between three and five years.
  • MiMs are cheaper than MBAs on average. For example, tuition fees for the London Business School MBA are 115,000 GBP (145,000 USD). The LBS MiM, meanwhile, costs 47,500 GBP (60,000 USD).
  • MiMs are normally one-year programs, while a full-time MBA tends to take between one and two years to complete.

It’s worth noting that although there are similarities between the MiM and MBA, they’re not necessarily in competition. They attract different candidates at different stages of their careers. Rather than being an alternative to an MBA, an MiM could instead be seen as a precursor.

The MiM: Born in Europe

The MiM first gained popularity and prestige in Europe. Between 2015 and 2018, European business schools reported consistent growth in applications for their MiM programs. However, since 2019 that interest has cooled slightly, with fewer schools reporting application growth each year.

Despite the cool-down, the major rankings for the MiM are still dominated by European programs. For instance, 19 of the top 20 programs in the Financial Times Master in Management Ranking 2023 were based in Europe. In the QS ranking from the same year, that number was 17. While these rankings aren’t always the best indicator of the quality of a program, they do offer some insights into their popularity.

Global Growth and New Programs

Where students would once apply for a European MiM by default, they’re now shifting their sights to other regions. In the same year that European MiM programs started seeing reduced demand for MiMs, North American programs reported their first rise in interest for several years. By 2022, two-thirds of European programs had reported a decline in international applications.

Now, the rankings are now beginning to reflect the increasing quality of MiM programs around the world. The 2023 Financial Times ranking featured programs from the likes of Singapore, Australia, and Morocco—some making their first appearance on the list. The MiM at Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management, which finished sixth, was the best ever placement for a non-European program.

Meanwhile, a raft of new programs in North America are set to make their mark in the coming years. Some of the leading American schools have started to introduce MiMs into their portfolio, including Chicago Booth, Georgetown University, and University of California, Davis.

Now, at long last, it looks like the MiM will become a truly global business degree.

What’s Driving the Increased Interest in the MiM?

Ongoing Economic Uncertainty

Economic downturns tend to lead to a boom in b-school applications—there was a big rise in MBA applications during the COVID-19 pandemic, for example.

Faced with this uncertainty, some students are entering postgraduate study earlier than planned. Instead of spending four to five years in the workforce before doing an MBA, they’re studying a MiM instead. Not only does this shelter them from an uncertain job market, but the program also serves as excellent preparation for an MBA later down the line.

Increased Accessibility

By adding shorter programs like the MiM to their portfolio, business schools are also widening the net of potential applicants.

This can only be good news for students. An MiM is more affordable than an MBA, and it acts as a natural precursor to the program. In a number of ways, it represents another possible route into business education for many people.

Together with a wider range of funding options than ever before, it means a graduate business degree is more accessible than it has perhaps ever been.

Shifting Student Priorities: Shorter Everything

The increased interest in the MiM is indicative of a bigger shift in student priorities. A two-year program is a big personal and financial commitment, with many students seeing a one-year degree as a lower-risk option. Accordingly, shorter programs are growing in popularity across the board. And that doesn’t just apply to MiMs.

This year, interest in the one-year MBA exceeded that of the two-year option for the first time ever. Students are now looking for shorter programs, shorter admissions exams—and ideally a smaller financial burden at the end of it.

So while this doesn’t spell the end for the two-year MBA, it certainly looks like things are evolving once again.

Nick Harland
Freelance Higher Education Writer
The views expressed by contributors to AACSB Insights do not represent an official position of AACSB, unless clearly stated.
Subscribe to LINK, AACSB's weekly newsletter!
AACSB LINK—Leading Insights, News, and Knowledge—is an email newsletter that brings members and subscribers the newest, most relevant information in global business education.
Sign up for AACSB's LINK email newsletter.
Our members and subscribers receive Leading Insights, News, and Knowledge in global business education.
Thank you for subscribing to AACSB LINK! We look forward to keeping you up to date on global business education.
Weekly, no spam ever, unsubscribe when you want.