Delaware universities report growing enrollment in their MBA programs, thanks in part to a recovering economy and an assortment of preferred business concentrations that offer competitive distinction.
Nationwide, application volumes for full- and part-time Master of Business Administration programs have increased since last year, according to the Graduate Management Admissions Council. As companies like JP Morgan Chase prepare for significant hires by 2019 and others evolve on the tech and global stage, MBA students look to enhance their resumes by selecting MBA concentrations, according university officials.
At the University of Delaware, where the most sought-after concentration is finance, the administration is busy retooling the MBA program to offer additional concentrations that will meet the needs dictated by the rapidly changing market, according to Jack Baroudi, professor and associate dean for Graduate and MBA programs.
Baroudi said a glut in the MBA market and the complexities of the business landscape have shaped program offerings.
“The MBA was designed to give people who didn’t have much business background training in a broad variety of subjects like reading accounting statements, supply chain managements, hiring practices and so on,” said Baroudi.
But the business industry has accelerated, evolved, thanks to a global marketplace and increasingly complex business mechanics from regulations to technology, marketing and finance.
The components of the generalist MBA are still key, but the option to customizethe degree with a concentration can add value in today’s competitive job market. UD offers six such concentrations or the option of nine credits of specializations as part of the MBA program.
Baroudi points to two different MBA student profiles: the students looking to enhance their skills by pursuing an MBA with a concentration critical to their current workplace; and the job changers — professionals who have little hope for promotion or management roles without an MBA and a concentration that could change their professional trajectory.
A third group includes existing senior-level management executives looking at the generalist MBA to increase their understanding across the broad disciplines, said Baroudi.
At Wilmington University, the MBA program has jumped 18 percent over the last four years while the Master of Science in Management has increased 67 percent. According to Ken Morlino, MBA program chair, the MBA program continues to be one of the largest programs of enrollment at the school, with the generalist MBA (no concentration) still generating the most volume, with a concentration in health care the second most popular option followed by organizational leadership and finance.
But the university’s Master of Science program outpaces MBA enrollment. Morlino points to the popularity of its human resources and public administration concentrations.
In addition, the MSM is a qualitative-based program, which Morlino said could appeal to graduate students who want a graduate business degree not quantitative-based like the traditional MBA and has no undergraduate course admission prerequisites. The MBA has four.
Still, some millenials are looking for shorter and faster programs in specific skill-based content area, according to Morlino.
“In graduate business we are increasing the availability of five-credit certificates in content areas such as marketing, health care, and human resources,” explained Morlino. “The idea of ‘stackable skills’ and extra credentialing as a way of improving one’s marketability and attractiveness as potential employees is supported by the readings we have done.”
He said some students are looking for faster ways to improve their transferable skills, and the idea of adding additional credentials to one’s resume profile has merit.
“The MBA has almost become a minimum degree in many respects,” said Don Durandetta, dean of the College of Business at Wilmington University. “We keep edging up the requirements, and now the whole tide is changing.”
Delaware State University is also expanding concentrations. While the school no longer offers an international MBA program, it has expanded its concentrations to include seven, including business analytics, aviation management and a dual MBA-CPA program.
Dr. Dae Ryong Kim, interim MBA director at the school, said enrollment is steady. With much of the science-based counterparts such as the Optical Science Center for Applied Research generating attention over the last several years, Kim said the school is adding to its concentrations and ready for a marketing push.
“Concentrations will help students to get better jobs or go to a different career path — particularly project management,” said Kim.
At JP Morgan Chase, human resources executive for Chase card services Denise McKelbey said the region’s colleges are doing a good job of turning out graduates able to meet the bank’s data-driven needs.
McKelbey met with students at the University of Delaware’s MBA program earlier this month, calling it an opportunity to develop a talent pipeline for future senior leaders. The company offers a Chase Leaders program, a manager-track program for MBA students.
As a data-driven company, McKelbey said the bank looks for MBA graduates with marketing and general management roles; analytics; risk management; and finance and technical positions.
Paul Rollison, assistant director of career services at UD’s Lerner College of Business & Economics, works with graduate students and alumni looking to enter the workforce. He said he’s noticed more optimism among students and a certainty that the MBA will enhance their resumes and major players from Christiana Care Health System to Blue Cross Blue Shield have sought after MBA graduates.
Wells Fargo also recruits from targeted college campuses across the country. Officials from the bank said that MBA concentrations inentrepreneurship and strategy contribute to a number of the company’sbusinesses.
According to Wells Fargo’s Lance LaVergne, head of enterprise talent division, the recruiting team reviews coursework, activities, experiences and responses to interview questions. The company offers reimbursements to eligible team members to subsidize their coursework up to $5,000 annually.
University of Delaware
MBA: 500 students
Cost: $750 per credit hour
- Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation
- Information Technology
- International Business
- Museum Leadership and Management
- **or opt for 9 credits of specializations from
MBA enrollment: 1,500 students
Cost: $444 per credit hour
- Environmental Sustainability
- Health Care Administration
- Homeland Security
- Management Information Systems
- Marketing Management
- Organizational Leadership
Delaware State University
MBA Enrollment: 50 students
Cost: $430 per credit hour
- Information Systems Management
- Project Management
- Aviation Management
- Hospitality and Tourism Management
- Business Analytics
- MBA-CPA Concentration