MBA Students Expect More AI Content And Offline Learning

Young executives are increasingly demanding more online, self-directed learning with a focus on the impacts of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as part of their Master of Business Administration (MBA), according to a survey of more than 2,000 prospective students.

The Tomorrow’s MBA study, by CarringtonCrisp in association with EFMD, showed only 22% of students wanted to study full-time on campus, while 42% said they wanted some form of blended degree.

For those who prefer online learning, more than one-in-three respondents wanted entirely self-directed learning, allowing them to study at their own pace and on their own schedule.

CarringtonCrisp Founder Andrew Crisp

CarringtonCrisp’s Andrew Crisp said the MBA remained a popular degree, but it was not the same MBA as 20 years ago.

“Several trends are converging which mean that many business schools will need to review their MBA offers to continue to attract strong cohorts,” he said.

A key demand from students is the integration of technology topics into MBA curriculums.

Not surprisingly, AI (53%) is the most in demand retaining its number one position from last year’s report. After AI, technology management (48%), data analytics and decision making (46%), and digital transformation (44%) are the most valued topics.

“Beyond technology subjects, it is traditional MBA subjects that tend to be to the fore,” the report said. “Leadership, Strategy and Strategic Management and International Business are the most valued options, but 24 of the 33 listed subjects are all valued by at least 1 in 10 of the study respondents.”

“Compared with last year, it is notable that Climate Change has dropped from 8th most important to 26th, although it is still valued by 9%, compared to 16% last year.

“Part of the change may be the addition of Sustainability to this year’s list of options which is rated 15th most important. At the time of the data collection for last year’s study, the UN Climate Change summit, COP 27, was about to take place, giving the subject greater publicity.”

The research also points to students wanting different ways to study. While the majority (72%) want to study full time, 42% want a mix of campus and online study. 24% want hybrid study allowing you to switch between campus and online as you wish.

Only 22% want to study on campus completely. 39% prefer to study outside their home country compared to 36% in 2023. The main reason for international study being to help pursue an international career (86%).

“We are in a buyer’s market in which students are spoilt for choice when it comes to developing professional skills. They want learning that can be tailored to their needs and can be studied how they want. Technology is central to any learning,” Mr Crisp said.

“Those business schools that can provide MBA programmes that meet these needs will be successful. Those that don’t adapt will find it hard going.”

The survey also investigated the growing prevalence of so-called “mini-MBA”. these are shorter and cheaper version of a full MBA that can be used as introduction to the full MBA.

In this year’s study eight ‘mini-MBAs’ were listed and respondents asked whether they had heard of them and would consider them. More than 70% of the respondents had heard of each of the ‘mini-MBA’ options with many being extensively promoted on digital networks.

Between 42% and 57% of the respondents indicated that they were not just aware of a provider, but would indeed consider them with the PWC Mini-MBA being most popular.

The addition of a well-known corporate brand to the MBA title would appear to be seen as advantageous among prospective MBA students.

Awareness and Consideration of Mini-MBA courses

SOURCE: Tomorrow’s MBA 2024 (CarringtonCrisp, EFMD)


Ben Ready
Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (