Fewer Students Self-Funding EMBA Programs in 2014, Says Survey

Findings in executive mba survey could be the start of a trend reversing

The percentage of executive MBA students who paid their own way decreased in 2014, potentially reversing a five-year-old trend that had begun to transform EMBA programs.

According to the Executive MBA Council, self-funded students accounted for 39.8% of EMBA enrollment in 2014, down from 41.2% a year earlier, while employer-sponsored students increased. Those receiving partial sponsorship increased to 35.6% in 2014, up from 34.7%, while full sponsorships increased to 24.6%, from 24%.

“While this is encouraging, time will tell if it becomes a trend,” says Michael Desiderio, the council’s executive director. “With organizations facing challenging economic times and accordingly changing their tuition reimbursement policies, we’ve seen the responsibility for financing the degree fall more on students.  Even so, business leaders continue to see the value of the EMBA experience.”

The executive MBA, which is typically offered on weekends and caters primarily to senior level executives, was originally created as a way for companies to train high-potential executives in strategy and leadership as they approach C-level positions. Companies would pick up the tab for the entire program and executives would stay with their employers when it was over.

Executive MBA Council: 92% of programs now offer career services

But over the last few years, EMBA programs have become increasingly attractive to self-funded students. With no financial help from their employer they felt no loyalty to those organizations and frequently left for a new employer when the program was over. As a result, many programs began offering career services for self-funded EMBA students. The Executive MBA Council’s survey found that the number doing so is now 92%.

It’s hard to tell if this year’s reversal to the rises seen in self-funded student numbers is a temporary trend or if it will continue. With total program costs up 2% in 2014, to US$74,883, and only about half of all EMBA programs offering scholarships, self-funding for many may be getting increasingly out of reach.

The Executive MBA Council survey also found that the demographics of EMBA programs have changed little in the last five years. Women account for 25.4% of enrollment, and the average age is 37.5 years. A typical EMBA student has 13.7 years of work experience, including 8.7 years in management.

In all, the Executive MBA Council found, 72% of EMBA programs offer executive coaching, up from 67.8% last year, while 95% include an alumni-networking event, up from 92%.

In 2014, 93.5% of EMBA students participated in global experiences—a 9.2% increase over the past five years—with popular destinations including China, the US, Brazil, India, Hong Kong, Chile and South Africa.   

Written by Louis Lavelle
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