Wake Forest University hones its focus for changing MBA market

10.22.2014 General, News Release, School News

(Winston-Salem, N.C. – Oct. 22, 2014) – Wake Forest University School of Business is refocusing how its MBA program is delivered based on the changing needs of the market. School leaders decided that the best value for MBA employer partners and students are programs that focus on professional development without interrupting careers. To allow Wake Forest to focus on emerging opportunities and continue to expand its successful and flexible MBA, the School will no longer offer incoming students admission to a traditional daytime MBA program.

“As Wake Forest prepares tomorrow’s business leaders for an ever-changing global economy, we must be nimble and innovative in how we educate our students today,” said Wake Forest University School of Business Dean Charles Iacovou. “Business models are evolving more rapidly than ever and business education must innovate. Quality education, better experience, easier access: that’s our vision for the future of the MBA.”

In the past five years, Wake Forest has experienced double and triple-digit growth in its pre-experience graduate programs and MBA programs for working professionals. Careful assessment of the marketplace and identification of these growth sectors make taking this strategic direction a benefit for employers and students.

“We are invested in MBA education,” Iacovou said. “Our School very much believes in the value that an MBA provides to our graduates and their employers. Our decision is a proactive step that will allow us to redirect resources and energy to meet the changing needs in the market. We will focus on developing a superior launching platform at the start of our graduates’ careers and offering flexible ways on evenings, weekends and through hybrid models for working professionals to continue their education and development.”

According to a recent report from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), nearly 64 percent of U.S. MBA students were enrolled in programs that could be pursued while also gaining experience in their careers.

“The MBA is a hallmark of business education, and I salute a program that allows students to pursue it without having to interrupt their career path,” said Alan Kelly, vice president Exxon Mobil Corporation. “Wake Forest continues to be a thought leader in this space and has long provided the top talent that meets our needs. The market is constantly changing and Wake Forest’s vision is to be responsive and evolve its business model to stay at the forefront and continuously adapt to market needs.”

In a recent GMAC survey of 2013 MBA alumni, 95 percent believed that their flexible program prepared them for leadership positions in their organizations, at the same level as traditional daytime MBA respondents.

“For the vast majority of business schools, traditional daytime MBA enrollments have decreased over the past decade,” said Sherry Moss, MBA program professor and faculty area chair. “Data shows that students prefer flexibly delivered programs that allow them to continue working, enrolling at twice the rate as traditional daytime MBA programs. The way we deliver MBA education needs to change and I am proud to be part of a team who will make the necessary shifts to evolve our MBA delivery models to best serve the needs of students and employers.”

While Wake Forest is not the first business school to focus on pre-experience and flexibly scheduled graduate education, it is the most prominent. The change in its MBA program is also not the first time Wake Forest has made bold moves at the forefront of national higher education trends, having been among the first in the nation to offer a pre-experience master’s program that uniquely blends liberal arts and business education, the first top-30 national university to implement test-optional undergraduate admissions, and the first University to appoint a Cabinet-level career development professional.

“Innovation not only finds new ways to meet old challenges, it also requires the courage to redefine the future and take bold steps to achieve something even greater. We believe redefining the Wake Forest MBA delivery model is the right move for our students, our alumni, our employers and our institution,” said Wake Forest President Nathan O. Hatch.

Wake Forest will continue to offer MBA programs for working professionals in the evenings in Winston Salem and evenings and Saturdays in Charlotte. These flexible programs will integrate online delivery into existing courses and will enable our programs to evolve with Wake Forest’s distinctive character. Additionally, Wake Forest has pre-experience business degree programs that include a Master of Arts in Management, Master of Science in Accountancy and Bachelor of Science in accounting, business and enterprise management, finance and mathematical business. The School also offers executive education and other non-degree programs.

Nationally ranked, the School’s programs consistently perform among the world’s best. Wake Forest’s MBA program for working professionals is the top program of its kind in North Carolina, and ranked in the top 20 nationally by U.S. News & World Report. Wake Forest accountancy graduates have the number one CPA pass rate in the nation for 11 of the past 15 years among institutions with accounting programs. The undergraduate program is ranked #11 by Bloomberg Businessweek.

Contact:          Sylvia Green, greensm@wfu.edu, (336.782.5958)

         Stephanie Skordas, skordas@wfu.edu, (336.758.4098)

                        Katie Neal, nealkc@wfu.edu, (336.758.6141)