September 17, 2009
By DIANA MIDDLETON
Tough times are reshaping some executive M.B.A. programs.
Enrollment in many of these programs is slipping, as companies looking to cut costs scale back—and in some cases eliminate—their financial support for employees' executive M.B.A. studies. Some prospective students, left to foot a bigger share of the bill than they expected, are balking at the programs' high price, which can easily soar over the $100,000 mark. Others, feeling insecure at work because of the way companies have been cutting jobs, don't want to take time away from work to attend lectures or otherwise let their studies interfere with their responsibilities.
In response, some schools are reaching out to a bigger pool of candidates, while others are trying to lessen the burden on students by adopting more flexible schedules or finding ways to shave or stretch out expenses. Some are standing pat for now, hoping signs of improvement in the economy will at least stabilize the situation. . .
At Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business in Dallas, there are 90 students in the executive M.B.A. program this year, a dozen fewer than last year. Just 20% of the class received full sponsorships from their employers, down from 30% last year. But the revenue loss from lower enrollment was offset by a strong year for SMU's full-time M.B.A program.
"During a recession, people seek a safe haven in business school, so revenue-wise, we aren't seeing any major hits," says Marcia Armstrong, associate dean of Cox's graduate programs. If a struggling economy keeps whittling down the applicant pool for the executive M.B.A. program, Ms. Armstrong says, the school will have to come up with a contingency plan, but she remains optimistic that the economy and the demand for the program will improve by next year's recruiting season.
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