“Pivotal” shift as business master’s overtake MBAs

A “pivotal shift” is taking place in students’ preferences as increasing numbers consider business master’s degrees over MBAs, a new study by CarringtonCrisp in collaboration with the European Foundation for Management Development has found.

Just over two-thirds of the 1,000 respondents to the study said they were considering a business master’s rather than an MBA, compared to under half in a similar survey conducted in 2016.

The change may be due to a growing perception that a master’s degree will be just as valuable to employers as an MBA, which just under half of the respondents to the latest study agreed with compared to 36% in the previous survey.

While 74% of Chinese students reported considering a master’s degree, only 57% of Canadians did the same. Canada also had the lowest percentage of students thinking that a masters has the same value as an MBA for an employer, compared to 67% of students from Pakistan.

“We are seeing a pivotal shift in the market,” says Andrew Crisp, author of the study.

“Employers are seeking pre-experience Masters students, as they have additional learning compared to undergraduates and can be cheaper to recruit than MBAs.”

Among the main motivations for starting a master’s, 31% of students mentioned improved employability, 23% increased earning potential and 21% personal development, while only 11% mentioned planning to start a business compared to 25% of prospective MBA students.

As for the ideal master’s course, the study shows the three most important features are academic reputation, teaching quality and strong employment/placement record.

While value for money has grown in importance according to the study, the international dimension of the program has slipped down the ranks to eighth position.

Only about 20% of respondents indicated that a study abroad experience during their course or the possibility of learning another language would add value to their experience.

The low appetite for international education experiences for business master’s students may be down to their specific needs and career plans.

“It may be that the one-year time period of many pre-experience master’s means that students consider it difficult to include overseas study or…don’t want to delay getting a job any longer as they have accumulated significant debt from undergraduate and master’s study,” the study explained.

“Those on post-experience programs may be studying part-time and thus overseas study is simply impractical.”

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