Much – too much – has been written about the value (or lack thereof) of an MBA certification for marketing professionals. More interesting than the unending anecdotes about the topic are the facts, presented by the Graduate Management Admissions Council’s annual research.
That’s GMAC, for short, and not to be confused with the auto financing arm of General Motors that became a ward of the state, changed its name to Ally Bank, and has been a financial house of cards ever since.
In addition to managing the GMAT, GMAC conducts an annual survey of graduate schools. This year’s big finding: 62% of respondents from the U.S. reported that full-time-MBA enrollment is down.
Of note were data from top schools like Columbia – down 19%; and Yale – down 10%. Even Northwestern’s “brave” new marketing campaign that we panned at the beginning of this year didn’t help, with applications down 7 percent at its Kellogg School of Business.
We can, of course, reason and rationalize the causes – economy, job prospects, etc. – as well as a future new normal for MBAs – program restructuring, funding, etc. – but it is more instructive to look at two alternatives. One is well known, and a bust.
The other is Marketing’s biggest secret weapon.
The well-known MBA alternate option is the online for-profit degree, which we slammed as a complete waste of time here. Not a lot more to be said, except this data point from the recent GMAC survey:
- 55% of online-MBA-program applicants have more than 6 years of work experience, compared to just 22% of full-time program applicants. Too many chasing a certification too late in their careers.
The other alternative is hiding in plain sight, apparently concealed by its sexless label: “Masters.” As in Master’s in Marketing. No BA.
And no BS.
GMAC’s survey found that almost 80% of graduate schools said applications for Master’s in Marketing programs were up, the highest of any Master’s program type (reminder: contrast that to the full-time-MBA application data point above).
[Disclosure: we teach at one of these Master’s programs, and the school is bursting at the seams.]
The “Masters versus MBA” benefits to students are manifold: more affordable, more focused, more applicable to prior work experience, and more “marketable” to employers.
That last one isn’t really a current benefit. It’s our projection of what employers are going to claim when a survey is done next year or the year after, where they are asked “which of the following would you be more likely to hire – a Marketing MBA or a Master’s in Marketing?”