Millennials Drive Growth in Part-Time MBA

Students in this demographic want customization, convenience, and a sense of community.

While growth in the number of applications to part-time MBA programs in the U.S. has flattened overall in recent years, cohort-based part-time programs have seen an increased preference among millennials. One explanation for this uptick could be that many millennials want to feel a sense of community with their peers, say the authors of a white paper released in April by the Graduate Management Admission Council.

Millennials now make up 90 percent of U.S. resident part-time MBA candidates, so their preferences are largely driving this segment of the market. In particular, this demographic is looking for part-time programs that provide them with opportunities to work on group projects, pursue specialized courses of study, and access career services that are on par with services offered to full-time students.

But while millennials desire a sense of community, they don’t necessarily feel the need to develop personal connections face-to-face—many still are choosing flexible online and blended options. GMAC predicts this trend will further open the door to alternative providers that can provide interactive online educational experiences at lower cost. The report’s authors recommend that business schools consider designing programs that emphasize group learning opportunities, customizable curricula, and comprehensive career services if they want to stay competitive.

In addition, the report emphasizes to all schools the importance of crafting marketing messages that resonate with young working professionals. Its authors recommend that schools make clear in their marketing materials what differentiates their part-time MBA programs from others, whether it’s a sense of community, personalized services, flexible delivery formats, accessible and responsive faculty, strong personal and professional networks, an established track record, or employer connections.

Insights and Strategies for the Future of U.S. Part-Time MBA Programs” is available on GMAC’s website.