Graduate Management News

July 2015

The Newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council

GMAC Viewpoints: The Future of Graduate Management Education and How Schools Can Prepare Students for the Next Decade

Questions and answers about how business programs are being structured to meet the needs of both today’s students and today’s professional world.

Future of GME

According to a recent Gallup poll for Inside Higher Ed (taken in December 2013 and released in Feb 2014), 96 percent of chief academic officers say they are very or somewhat effective in preparing students for future employment. By contrast, in a separate study only 34 percent of business leaders say that the students they get from universities are ready for the professional world. Why the disconnect? What might this mean for management education?

GMAC’s own research shows that in 2015 the majority of companies plan to both increase their hiring of MBAs and increase MBA starting salary levels —indicating that they place a high value on the skillset graduates gain at business school. However, it is critical that business schools are nimble in adapting to the skills today’s employers demand. At the top of this list are analytical, communication, leadership, and strategic thinking skills.

Experience, however, is a big-ticket item as well. Recruiters look for candidates that have a proven ability to perform. If a candidate doesn’t have prior work experience demonstrating past success, then an internship or work project will help.

The debate between graduate preparedness and employment readiness is nothing new, and was a key topic and a lively discussion at GMAC’s 2014 Leadership Conference, and again at the 2014 MBA CSEA Global Conference. So, how do we keep this conversation going, and how do we close this gap—regardless of if it’s grounded in perception or reality?

We can start by stimulating new conversations about how business programs are being structured to meet the needs of today’s students and today’s professional world. As we see it, the following four forces are impacting the future of graduate management education as we approach 2020:

  • The globalization of management education, 
  • The effect of online education, 
  • The impact of the professional goals of the Millennial generation, and 
  • The question of what work will look like in the next decade.

Recently, GMAC’s president and CEO, Sangeet Chowfla, had the privilege of attending the Association of MBAs’ (AMBA) 2015 Global Conference for Deans and MBA Directors and discussed these forces and other ideas about the future of graduate management education.

Conferences such as those offered by AMBA have become important platforms for decision-makers to get together and talk about the need to align the needs and aspirations of students, schools, and employers. We hope the interview below helps answer some questions, raise new questions, and move the conversation forward.

About the Author

Rebecca Estrada-WorthingtonRebecca Estrada-Worthington is survey research manager at the Graduate Management Admission Council.