Yields are up at full-time MBA programs, and B-schools are enrolling larger-than-ever classes. But not everyone is sharing in the bounty.
MBA programs were braced for the worst this fall. A damaged brand, a shortage of jobs, and questions about return on investment all threatened to send admitted students away from business school and into the relative stability of the workforce. Predicting final enrollment this year, says Beth Flye, assistant dean and director of admissions for Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management was "like trying to land a 747 on a Sunfish sailboat."
But to the relief of many an admissions officer, fears of mass student defection were never realized. Far from it. Flying in the face of many predictions, 2009 enrollment actually soared at top schools. Students accepted their offers of admission in unprecedented numbers, leading many programs to enroll more MBAs than ever in this year's entering classes.
The reasons for the higher-than-expected yields are unclear. The economic forces that boosted enrollments in recent years have clearly not abated, and many applicants may have decided to wait out a jobless recovery in B-school. The fact that top schools saw the biggest gains suggests that prospective students may be opting for B-schools they believe will provide the best ROI in a tough economy.
Among the top schools reaching all-time highs were Kellogg, at 526 from 485 last year; the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business at 500 from 433; Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, at 447 from 434; INSEAD at 990 from 900; and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School at 862 from 823. Harvard Business School also brought in its largest class in recent memory, 937 students, up from last year's 900.
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Business School Gets Crowded - BusinessWeek