As is typical during economic downturns, universities are seeing an increase in students interested in getting business degrees and especially a master’s in business administration.
But this time around, more students are seeking online or evening programs, so they can hold on to their regular jobs, said business-school officials.
Although students sometimes can rely on employers to pay for MBA programs that can cost $50,000 or more, some of that money may be going away.
Robert Mittelstaedt Jr., dean of the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, said applications for part-time MBA programs that will start next year are up about 30 percent because more applicants don’t want to give up jobs to study full-time. He believes that also could be because the school and its MBA program made U.S. News & World Report’s top-25 lists this year.
“People recognize it’s going to be a tough world and they want more qualifications in a tough environment,” he said.
Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions of New York City said that since Sept. 1, it has seen a 45 percent increase in interest for its business-, law- and graduate-school preparation programs.
The number of test takers for the Graduate Management Admission Test required for most MBA programs is up 5.8 percent from January through September in the country and 11.6 percent worldwide over a year earlier, Kaplan said.
And a Kaplan survey of 245 business-school admissions officers found the highest surge in applications in five years, creating a more competitive environment for students and a healthy climate for schools eager for the business.
Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale also has seen a 16.5 percent increase in fall 2008 enrollment in three graduate business programs over last year and a 30 percent increase in applications for the spring 2009 classes for full-time, distance (classes partly online) and executive programs.
At the University of Arizona, Marisa Cox, director of MBA admissions at Eller College, said MBA applications for fall 2009 are up 30 percent.
The school has evening programs that start in January in Tucson and Phoenix, and she said there has been strong demand for those as well.
“That is somewhat surprising in a way, because those are working professionals who are maintaining their full-time jobs and going back to school as well,” she said.
She also said some students are holding off from starting because they are not sure if employers will reimburse them for tuition.
“I fear we might see more of those in the coming months, and think we are just at the beginning of it right now,” she said.
Because the University of Phoenix is part of a public company, officials couldn’t give specifics on enrollment and interest other than to say that business programs are the most popular. ..
For information on master of public administration degrees in Arizona visit:
• Grand Canyon University at gcu.edu
• Thunderbird School of Global Management at thunderbird.edu
• University of Phoenix at phoenix.edu.