Masters in Management: US v Europe

We take a look at why masters in management programs are more popular in Europe

Masters in management (MIM) programs are not America’s forte. The United States is much more astute at creating strong masters of business administration (MBA) degrees. In fact, some might argue that Americans continue to define that niche in education. This is supported by the QS Global MBA Rankings 2018 that includes 12 US business schools in the top 20.  

On the other hand – err, other continent – European schools are becoming well-known for their masters in management programs. One look at the QS Masters in Management Rankings 2018 tells the story. An American school does not even appear on the list until University of Michigan Ross School of Business (16th). Next comes Duke University Fuqua School of Business (19th). And then you have to scroll all the way down to New York University Stern School of Business (36th), to see another US representative.

But European programs cannot get complacent. With more young people looking for ways to beef up their resumes, business schools are seeking ways to reach a larger audience. As a result, US business schools are expecting an influx of MIM applicants in the coming months and years.  

The Ross School, for example, forecasts between a 15% and 20% rise in MIM applications for the 2018-2019 academic year, according to Norm Bishara, associate dean of Undergraduate and Early Career Programs.

It is this rise in demand that prompted QS to release the Masters in Management Rankings 2018. According to founder and CEO of QS, Nunzio Quacquarelli, “Although the full-time MBA remains the flagship program for many schools, business masters programs are now equally popular, and in some countries more popular than the full-time MBA. So it makes sense for QS to provide these rankings side by side and allow candidates to compare and contrast.”    

 

Different points of view

Europeans may view the MIM degree as an alternative to the costlier, more time-consuming MBA. Americans have an entirely different perspective.

“We don’t see the MIM as an MBA replacement at all, but rather top schools, where MIM and MBA applications are strong and rising, like Michigan Ross, will see business students ‘diving’ in and out of b-school for different degrees that fit their needs at a particular moment in their careers – micro-degrees, executive education, and other immersive short- and long-term experiences – depending on what their professional goals are for the future,” says Bishara.

A new generation of business students realizes that time is of the essence. This is a culture devoted to everything happening immediately, including career success. As a result, young people don’t want to wait to pick up more advanced business skills. The MIM allows them to procure a master’s degree earlier than a traditional MBA.

 

A new era at US business schools

In addition, US business schools have long tried to attract more women to their programs. One of the biggest issues with MBA programs is the timing. Signing up for an MBA, years after you have gained work experience, tends to coincide with the age at which many women want to have a family. For some, doing both at the same time is not possible. Because MIM programs typically take place earlier in one’s life, they have more appeal with women who want a career and a family.

Business schools are seeing a demand for shorter programs that are less intrusive on people’s careers and family life. This could mean Bishara is right and that the popularity of MIM programs will soon soar Stateside. Already, it has meant that business schools are seeking to provide alternatives to the MBA that are MIM-like but still have an American feel to them.

 

Early career programs take shape

For instance, Yale University School of Management announced in September 2017 that it would participate in a partnership with other business schools to offer the M2M program. The partners are HEC Paris, HKUST Business School in Hong Kong, FGV-EAESP in São Paulo, and University of British Columbia Sauder School of Business.

Candidates in this early-career program can apply simultaneously to two programs – one of the partner school’s MIM programs and Yale’s Master of Management Studies in Global Business and Society program. Those who have already completed the year one program (MIM) in one of the partner schools can apply directly to Yale’s program for year two.

 

The future arrives

Melissa C. Fogerty, assistant dean of the Management Master’s Programs at Yale SOM, agrees that early career courses, such as the MIM, are “primed to take off in the US”. She points to GMAT test taking skewing younger, which was reported as far back as 2013 by Bloomberg Businessweek.

In addition, Fogerty says younger people are gaining leadership experience sooner in life, and many of them are used to working in diverse teams and willing to move anywhere. These are all qualities that are appealing to today’s recruiters.

Indeed, it’s what companies say they need right now and what students want to make themselves more employable. Business schools are simply practicing what they preach by responding to the needs of the market. 

Francesca Di Meglio

Francesca Di Meglio has written about higher education for two decades. She covered business schools and all aspects of management education for what became Bloomberg Businessweek from May 2004 to December 2013. Di Meglio was the consultant editor for the book Admitted: An Interactive Workbook for Getting into a Top MBA Program (85 Broads Publishing, 2011), which was written by admissions consultant Betsy Massar. In addition, she is a family travel and parenting blogger at the Italian Mamma website

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