MBA Course Formats: Innovations and Trends

MBA Course Formats: Innovations and Trends

If you have already started the process of choosing the right MBA course and figuring out the various curricula options available, then you are not new to the world of MBA terminology. By now, you must be aware of the different programme formats provided by business schools around the world to satisfy the needs and preferences of qualified applicants.

However, even if you know the difference between an online programme and a blended MBA, what are the latest trends in these formats and what are business schools doing to improve their offerings even further? It is important to have realistic expectations about what different programme formats look and feel like. Check out our summary of the latest MBA course trends.

Immediate application in business

MBA applicants who go for a less traditional study format such as an online, part-time or blended programme soon realise that the benefits of these courses extend far beyond having a flexible schedule. One of the key advantages of such formats is the possibility for students to immediately apply their classroom instruction to their job duties. Business schools are also well aware that this is an extremely valuable opportunity for busy executives who are ambitious to grow and improve professionally. As Cheryl Oliver, assistant dean of Online and Graduate Programmes at Carson College of Business at Washington State University (US), shared for University Business Magazine: “The course material is not the main product. The transformation of the student as a leader is now the main product.

In addition, formats delivered on a part-time basis are perfectly suited to professionals whose main goal is to increase their expertise in their current field of work. This means that students have the freedom to customise their MBA curriculum in a way that reflects their individual work aspirations and needs. Participants in part-time programmes would normally be required to complete a core course, while the rest of their programme is mostly customisable with various electives, real-life business projects, or study trips to choose from. The rationale is that students attain more work experience throughout their studies, more exposure to real-world business, and a clearer sense of the need for their education.

Read: B-schools Gripped by Entrepreneurism

The impact of technology

Undoubtedly, the role and significance of technology in education is becoming more and more prevalent. On a more general level, we have witnessed how technology has transformed education, and continues to do so, especially considering the increasing popularity of the online MBA format. However, there have been numerous other advances and changes among all formats that have contributed to the development of how business and management are taught. The application process, teaching, and learning would not have become what they are now without the role of digitalisation.

The impact of new technologies on education was also echoed during the MERIT Summit conference dedicated to the future of learning. The executive education director at HEC Paris (France), Nicolas Lemoine, who attended the summit, shared an incredibly interesting insider view for BusinessBecause. As the one in charge of the school’s executive education custom programmes, Mr Lemoine says that while working on individually tailored education packages for companies in early 2017, around 40% of them were looking to incorporate a digital portion into their learning. And if that does not already sound fascinating enough, he said that just a year later 100% of his clients are seeking to incorporate digital learning as part of their custom programme. Although he does not believe that on-campus MBA programmes and face-to-face interactions will ever disappear completely, he admits that “today, if you’re not delivering online content, you are no longer on the radar for prospective clients.

Read: The Various Types of MBA Curricula

Changes in business are fast-paced

With the rise of new tools such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation, also come new ways of leading organisations. Managerial experience and knowledge of the traditional leadership models are no longer sufficient to succeed and excel in today’s rapidly changing business landscape. These fast-paced changes also need to be reflected in education if MBA programmes wish to keep abreast of the latest developments. According to Fast Company, the leaders of the future will have to utilise skills such as coming up with innovative solutions and an ability to work well in unfamiliar conditions. MBA classrooms from the top international business schools also seek to implement the best means of developing these skills and capabilities in their students.

Of course, this is easier said than done. As Dawn Lerman, who is the associate dean for graduate studies at the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University (US), explains: “Business moves at a faster pace of change than is typically seen in academia, both in terms of how technology is shaping industries and careers, as well as globalisation. We have to constantly update our courses and bring in new course offerings to keep pace.

Learn more about MBA programmes at Fordham University by taking a look at this handy school profile.

The value of joint and dual degrees

One of the ongoing trends in MBA course formats is the rise of the joint and dual degrees offered by business schools around the world. Opting for the dual degree option grants students two degrees from two universities while the joint degree is a single degree awarded by two or more institutions. As Matthias Kuder, deputy director of the Centre for International Cooperation at Free University of Berlin (Germany) highlights, universities and business schools realise that collaborations on this level allow them to “pool educational resources and use complementary teaching expertise to build study programmes that they otherwise wouldn't be able to offer.

Enrolling in a joint MBA is equivalent to having to maintain a good balance between a heavy workload and travel. Many of the top joint MBA degrees are global in nature because partnering institutions are often located on different continents. However, students in these programmes also get to develop a larger and more diverse network and experience different business perspectives on a truly global level.

Whether you have decided to enroll in a full-time MBA programme or in a less traditional format such as online, blended, or modular, there is no doubt that you will have access to the latest developments in business education.

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