Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

The Evolving MBA

ON THEIR OWN: Fewer employers are paying full MBA tuition for employees, says Steve Baumgarten, director of USF's MBA programs.The master's of business administration has become almost a requirement in some business circles. As a result, MBA programs have become more accessible. It's common for colleges to offer three or four different ways of obtaining an MBA, some designed to cater to the hectic schedules of employees and entrepreneurs who want to go back to school without giving up time at work. And there are other changes on the horizon. Here are the latest trends:Enrollment Trends

Decreases: The biggest enrollment decreases are coming in traditional full-time MBA programs, where nearly 80% of programs report decreasing enrollment. Meanwhile, two-thirds of accelerated full-time programs report decreasing enrollment.

Increases: Slightly more than half of executive MBA programs report enrollment increases. About a quarter of such programs report falling enrollments.

Source: Graduate Management Admission Council Application Trends Survey, 2004

EMBA Tuition? (2005-06)

Univ. of Miami: $57,984
Rollins College: $52,200
Florida International Univ.: $45,000
Stetson Univ. at Celebration: $42,000
Florida Gulf Coast Univ.: $34,000
Univ. of Central Florida: $33,500
Univ. of Florida: $32,000
Univ. of South Florida: $32,000
Florida Institute of Technology: $31,500-$42,000
Florida Atlantic Univ.: $27,800-$31,970
Nova Southeastern: $22,102

Picking Up the Tab
ProgramCompany PaidAmount (per year per employee)Part-time63%$9,869Executive53%$19,915Full-Time38%$17,671
Job Outlook? (2005 MBA grads)

What employers are saying:
Plan to hire more MBA grads than last year: 24.9%Industry with largest planned increase in MBA hires: Manufacturing, 29%U.S. region expected to see largest increase: Midwest, 35.9%Salary range: $34,000 to $103,000Average base salary to be offered: $72,930Salary with benefits added: $93,770Plan to offer hiring bonuses: 58.3%Offered hiring bonuses in previous year: More than 80%Source: National Association of Colleges and Employers, 2005 MBA Benchmark Survey

Executive MBAs
Worldwide, the number of applicants for MBA programs has flattened over the past several years, with one exception: The executive MBA, or EMBA, has remained strong. Geared toward busy, established executives, the programs typically are held on Saturdays and sometimes Fridays for 19 or 20 months, so students don't have to take sabbaticals from work to attend school full-time for two-year programs or battle rush-hour commutes for night classes for three-plus years.

EMBA programs in Florida provide simplified registration along with things like a laptop computer at some schools, a one-week study trip abroad at the end of the semester and subscriptions to business publications. Classmates go through an entire "lockstep" or "cohort" program together, forging relationships that carry into the business world.

One feature of EMBA programs: Cost, typically twice as much as other MBA options. The University of South Florida's EMBA program, for instance, costs $32,000, compared with about $13,000 in straight tuition for a standard two-year MBA, says Steve Baumgarten, director of MBA programs at USF's College of Business Administration in Tampa.

Employer Reimbursements
Increasingly fewer companies are paying full tuition for their employees to obtain MBAs. Ten to 12 years ago, two-thirds to three-quarters of students in USF's executive MBA program were fully sponsored by their employers, Baumgarten says. Those percentages have reversed. In a related, pronounced trend, some companies are offering MBA students only the standard tuition reimbursement they give any other employee.

Student Profile
Business professionals are seeking MBAs at an increasingly younger age, many in their 20s instead of late 30s and 40s, industry watchers say. Baumgarten used to kick the younger applicants out of his office, telling them to come back when they had more experience. Now, he says, they tell him, "Look, I've got to do this now. I don't know if I'm going to be with this company in two more years," he says. This year, USF's EMBA class of 44 includes students ages 29 to 59.

Traditionally male-dominated, MBA programs are starting to recruit women and minorities. In Florida, 56% of the 7,257 GMAT test-takers were men and 44% were women. Classroom figures vary depending on the year, the school, the program and the campus. Typical gender counts in Florida have been about two-thirds men and one-third women.

Florida MBA programs are seeing increases in their minority populations. For instance, minorities make up 54% of this year's Saturday MBA class at the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College in Winter Park. "That's the highest percentage we've ever hit," associate dean Steve Gauthier says.

Watch for more universities to partner with each other across geographic boundaries to offer competitive executive MBA programs, says Maury Kalnitz, managing director of the Executive MBA Council. The University of North Carolina, he says, has partnered with colleges in Europe, Asia, North America and South America. New York University's TRIUM Executive MBA Program is an alliance with the London School of Economics and Political Science and the HEC School of Management in Paris.WIDER INTEREST: Minority enrollment in its Saturday MBA class is "the highest percentage we've ever hit," says Steve Gauthier, associate dean of the Crummer Graduate School of Business at Rollins College in Winter Park.

Universities are also branching out to offer MBAs where they think they'll find candidates instead of attracting the candidates to their main campuses. The University of Miami has MBA programs in Tampa, Delray Beach, Orlando and the Bahamas. Stetson University in DeLand offers its only executive MBA in Celebration, south of Orlando.

In and Out
What's hot: Entrepreneurship is the hottest concentration. It's a bit of a surprise, says Gauthier at Rollins. "We can understand it in our full-time program, but when we get it in our professional and executive programs, where there are a fair number of companies paying for them, and they have this strong interest in entrepreneurship, I think that's really different," he says. "But the same skills you're taught in our entrepreneurship program can be used within a company in starting a new product or a new division."

What's cold: E-commerce, Gauthier says, was the No. 1 concentration area for Rollins MBA students when the school introduced it in 2000. "The next year, the bubble burst, and we couldn't get people to take those classes, so we totally dropped it as a concentration."

Job Market
MBA hiring is expected to increase by 24.9% this year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, based in Bethlehem, Pa. In Florida, jobs are still fairly abundant but the market has grown softer, says USF's Baumgarten. "Virtually all of our students find jobs," he says. "The difference is are they going to get three or four job offers or one or two and is it going to take them longer or are jobs falling out of the sky into their laps?"