Not only is the value of law school being questioned. So is that of the full-time MBA program, both here in the U.S. and abroad.
The current issue of The Economist focuses on why the full-time MBA degree has lost its pull power. It's no longer a magnet attracting the best and brightest or brandname employers who used to automatically recruit on campus.
Not that the MBA is going the way of the landline phone. During the 2013-2014 academic year, 189,000 were awarded. But, The Economist points out that five years ago, for many programs, there were 17 applicants for each seat. Currently there are 10.
What's changing demand?
At the top of the list is that we have become a specialist economy. An advanced degree in finance, for example, is what both the ambitious and those hiring prefer. The MBA is a generalist degree.
A second factor is that online education has become sophisticated and respectable. Those with jobs are opting to learn that way versus enrolling in a full-time MBA program.
A third matter, of course, is price. The MBA was once considered a safe investment. No longer. More employers shun hiring MBAs because they will require more compensation than the undergraduate business major.
And, fourth, hands-on experience is more useful than an academic credential in the fast-moving economy. It is considered smarter to enter a management trainee program at X company than committing two years to academics.
But, academia remains big business. There will always be those who will go the conventional route. Professional programs provide a seductive package of knowledge, skills, contacts, and an actual degree.
The new game, though, requires rebranding those entities as unique paths to professional success. Professional schools have to document how their degrees can accomplish what alternate paths, such as the right internship or working in a startup, don't.
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