Is Business School Worth It? How MBA Programs Are Revamping in 2019 | WSJ


(bright music) – I’m mostly looking for a flexibility, since I am a working professional. – I think the network is a huge factor. – I feel like an MBA for
me is a second chance. – [Narrator] Is an MBA worth it? It’s a question that many
prospective students, like these, are asking themselves. Until recently, getting
an MBA was considered a relatively safe bet, one likely to yield a big bump in salary. But in recent years,
applications to programs across the country are down. Why, that’s not entirely clear. Some point to the strong
economy, others to rising costs. But what is certain is
that schools are beginning to change as a result. (slow bass music) The Questrom School of
Business at Boston University, ranked 36th last year among
two year MBA programs, recently made headlines when it announced an alternative to its, roughly, $55,000 a year Residential Program. A new online MBA had a ticket price far lower than its competitors. – We plan to launch in the Fall of 2020 an MBA degree priced at 24,000 and available only online
on the edX platform. It’s an MBA degree, but the
product is completely different than what you would get in
the full time MBA, on campus. It’s a completely
different product designed for a different audience
that has different lives, different needs, so they don’t
have six years experience, they have beyond 10 years experience. They’re much more seasoned,
and the MBA allows them to advance in the career they’re in. – One of the challenges your facing, and many business schools
are facing nation wide, decline in applicants. – Yes, nation wide the
applications for MBA are down. They’ve been down at different
levels in different schools for almost five years now. – What about your school? – We were down as well, but
not as significantly as others. – How much were you down? – In the MBA we were down, this year, 18%. (bright music) – [Narrator] The school’s
dean, Susan Fournier, says, “Her MBA program was
able to fill its incoming class “with qualified students.” But, she also saw a
need for something new. I was curious was Questrom’s
current full-time students thought about this declining
interest in their degrees. – How many of you are confident
that five years from now it’ll have been worth it? – [Narrator] Meet Nari, Airian, Michael, Carolyn, Saeid and Danesh. Each of these full-time Questrom students has a different background
and a different career goal, but they’re all confident
that their MBA degree will help them take their
careers to the next level. – Do you ever have moments
when you ask yourself, is it worth it? – Yes I do.
– Saeid, you do? – Yeah, it’s because the
opportunity cost for me is really high. – You’re a doctor. – Yeah, I had those moments,
but when I sit in a class and I hear some new
concepts, some new lessons, and it’s like eye opening
to me, wow, this is what this happen to us, or this
what, this is happening. I just say, this is the
right time to be here, this is the right place for you. – Carolyn, you’ve never questioned whether it’s worth it or not? – When I hear conversations like this, I think a lot of it depends
on where you were before, and it sounds like some
people were really in a job that they really saw themselves in and felt deeply entrenched. For me I really wanted a big change, and I didn’t know what
that change would be, so I feel like I was the
perfect person to leave and be excited about being
here to reset and relearn. – [Narrator] Today, Questrom also offers a variety of specialized MBAs. There’s the Social Impact MBA, the MBA plus MS in Digital Technology, and the Health Sector MBA. – Half way through my undergraduate
degree in biochemistry I realized I didn’t wanna
do the academic thing, but I did wanna make an impact in the health sector in life sciences, and so I thought, the
best way of doing that was to kind of, follow the money. – As an engineer, you’re
limited in your career choices. As an engineer MBA, the door opens. And so now I have the technical expertise and I know how it translates
into the dollar math. – Have you all heard
about the online program that BU just announced? You know it’s not gonna cost quite as much as what you’re paying for here
at the residential program? Do you feel like, if
that was offered to you as an alternative, would you have said, I’m gonna stay at home, save some money. – I was considering going
to an online program when I was applying, but decided against it for a few reasons. One is, definitely the experience. You get to actually meet people. (laughs) It’s a huge part of the value
that I saw in the degree. – When they start offering MBAs to people through an online program,
does that dilute the value of your degree? – It’s something I’m concerned about, but having a more specialized degree, having it specifically in health sector, I think it helps me a little bit more. – You’re here because you wanna get more than just the education out of it, and that’s the biggest thing
that sets the regular MBA from the online MBA part. – Really ask yourself, what
would enable me to pick– – In terms of academic
knowledge that one gains through a residential
program, the two year program, can you get all that in an online program? – You won’t get the ability
to go deep and to specialize. – Can you learn leadership
in an online course? – Yes.
– You can? – Yes, but you can’t
go as deep as you might if you took a whole other year and took nothing but leadership courses. – Is this a good time to be
a dean of a business school? – It’s really a test for
how to manage a business. – This is a business. – It is a business, and you
know, we provide products that meet people’s needs
and the market is very, it’s very dynamic. – By dynamic you mean there’s
less demand for it now? – No, dynamic meaning it’s evolving a lot. It’s challenged in some ways. There are some cultural trends
that challenge business, overall, challenge higher ed,
so you really have to know the astute business analysis of your case. I’d say 50 years ago, you
know, you had two products, an undergrad, an MBA, you were good to go. Some schools today have one product. We have 10 products, because
the market is very complex.

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