Wake Forest Drops Traditional MBA Program

After five years of declining enrollment it its traditional MBA program, Wake Forest University says that it will drop the program, and instead, will shift its focus to an area with greater demand—those MBA candidates who want to study and earn a paycheck simultaneously.

Next year, the university will no longer accept applications for a traditional, daytime MBA program at its Winston-Salem, North Carolina campus. However, it will continue to expand its offerings for working professionals.

InsideHighered.com reports that the decision was made after analyzing the program this past summer and taking into consideration the needs of the market of the students that Wake Forest seeks to serve, according to Dean of the School of Business Charles Iacovou.

Enrollment in the university’s traditional MBA program has dropped from 123 to 98 in the past five years. Yet, the enrollment in the MBA for working professionals program has grown from 242 to 304. The program offers evening and weekend classes year-round.

Admission for the full-time program ended with the current fall classes, and the program will end in May 2016. From that point, the MBA programs will be offered in the evenings at the Winston-Salem campus and evenings and Saturdays at its uptown Charlotte center. All programs are aimed at students graduating in two years.

The Winston-Salem Journal quotes Spokeswoman Stephanie Skordas as saying that the decision was based primarily on studies showing that “students and their employers prefer focusing on professional development that doesn’t interrupt careers.” However, the center currently lacks data for how many students receive an employer subsidy to pay for their MBA degree.

Wake Forest’s MBA program for working professionals is nationally ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s top 20.

The decision was also influenced by current trends across the nation. Sherry Moss, Wake Forest MBA program professor and faculty area chairwoman, said, “For the vast majority of business schools, traditional daytime MBA enrollments have decreased over the past decade.”

For the past five years, the school has experienced double- and triple-digit growth in its pre-experience graduate programs and MBA programs for working professionals.

Moss said, “Data shows that students prefer flexibility-delivered programs that allow them to continue working, enrolling at twice the rate as traditional daytime MBA programs.”

Iacovou says that the school “must be nimble and innovative in how we educate our students today, and that while Wake Forest is the first to end the full-time program, “we expect others will follow.”

Since last spring, the university has received national attention for its memorial service for poet Maya Angelou, as well as a commencement ceremony hosting Jill Abramson where she spoke for the first time since her sudden firing from the New York Times.

[Image via Wake Forest University]