There’s no denying that business, and business school, has changed over the past few decades. Changes in society, economic meltdowns and an expanded global business climate have led many business schools to change their approaches to instruction. Instead of focusing on accounting and finance, as they did before, today’s MBA programs offer a new focus on “soft skills.” These include ethics, decision making and problem-solving, as well as skills in using technology and entrepreneurship.
This new approach to business education is in large part a response to the major changes in business over the last decade — and more changes are coming. In fact, there are five trends in business education that you can expect to take shape over the next few years.
Traditionally, business school cohorts have been primarily made up of men. This is changing, as the number of female business students has increased markedly. Women still only make up about 35 percent of all business school students, but initiatives at many schools are designed to attract more female applicants.
Business school diversity won’t only extend to gender lines, though. The Graduate Management Admissions Council notes that the number of people from outside of the U.S. who are taking theGraduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) has increased considerably over the last decadeand predicts that going forward most business school classes will include students from all around the world (particularly Saudi Arabia and Asian countries), providing a more global and diverse perspective to business education.
New Application Approaches
Usually ranging from 500 to 2,000 words, business school essays are often the most challenging part of the application process. They are challenging for admissions officers as well, who have to read dozens of essays answering the same questions — and read the same stories repeatedly.
As a result, many admissions committees are looking for better ways to learn about applicants. Some have experimented with “tweet essays,” in which the applicant makes his or hercase in 140 characters or less. Others have requested photo collages, slideshows and more creative submissions. The idea is to move away from the tired “Why I Want to Attend (Fill in School Here)” and move toward a well-rounded, more insightful view of the applicant.
Greater Focus on Entrepreneurship
After the financial meltdown of 2008, many experienced business professionals found themselves without a job — and started their own businesses instead. That spirit of innovation has extended to business schools, with more schools offering classes or concentrations in entrepreneurship, giving graduates the tools they need to launch a successful venture. In some programs, students even launch their companies before graduation, immediately applying their knowledge and skills.
Greater Focus on Ethics
Again, the economic collapse of 2008 shook the business school world to its core and inspired significant changes to curricula. In fact, the number of business schools requiring courses in ethics doubled between 2001 and 2011. Experts predict that all programs will require at least one ethics course in the next few years. Even programs that do not require an ethics-focused course are including ethical components in other courses.
New Management and Organizational Structures
In the past, business schools have primarily taught management from the top down, the traditional hierarchy with management at the top and workers at the bottom. Today’s business schools recognize the shift toward a more horizontal management style and are teaching more leadership and collaboration skills. There is less focus on competition and “who’s in charge” and more on how business leaders can work with everyone in their organizations to create the best possible outcomes.
These are just a few of the trends shaping business school today. As changes take place in the global business environment, new trends will develop. For example, as advanced and specialized education becomes more of a necessity in the working world, more busy professionals will turn to an online MBA program resource and enroll in flexible programs that allow them to balance their professional responsibilities with their education. Other experts predict significant growth in multidisciplinary MBAs and highly specialized programs in response to emerging technologies and trends.
One thing is certain: Today’s business school programs are vastly different than those of the past, and the MBA programs of the future will look different than those of today. Much like business itself, business education must constantly change, and the future is bright.
About the Author:Renee Diaz is a journalist and blogger. She writes about business trends and online entrepreneurship.
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