The Evolution of the Modern MBA

The MBA has always been the stalwart of business education--the true pinnacle. 

A terminal degree from the start, the MBA has always afforded its graduates the ability to call it quits on their formal education.  While the prevailing arc of the MBA curriculum has remained fairly consistent over time, there have been some interesting changes over the years, which has resulted in a new world MBA bearing only a modicum of similarity to the degrees that came before it. 

What we witness today in MBA education is what I will call the Disney World of graduate schools.

Nobody fails out, and everyone leaves having had a good time.  Yes, there is a lot of fun to be had in the modern era of business education.  Beer parties, costume parties, holiday parties, internationally-themed parties.  Lots of parties.  It’s almost like the students know it’s their one last shot at the college life and they don’t want to slip gently and forever into the responsibility of adulthood without a fight.  Somehow everyone’s inner fraternity and sorority persona resurrects itself to find a final tumble in the dusty toga.  Work hard, play hard was a mantra whose roots can probably be traced to some ancient Tuck cohort.  After all, they are indeed the oldest business school in the country.

This is not to say that modern business school education is easy. Quite the contrary. 

Business school is hard, but the digital age has made us all more productive, and the cognitive surplus that is generated in all of us is not used up entirely on programmatic studies (thus the parties).  In the old days, business school was generally a bit more “serious.”  One piece of evidence is the fact that students used to be required to write a dissertation or at least a thesis paper in order to graduate.  Yes, like every other Masters program in the world, even the lofty MBA once had students doing research and writing papers.  This is all but gone in the modern MBA, where in general, the longest thing you have to write is maybe several sentences in an essay question or two on a test here and there.  This might explain why B-schools aren’t as concerned about your verbal score on the GMAT as they are about the quant. The verbally challenged can officially raise a toast to educational evolution!

But speaking of quant---what happened to the Calculus requirement? 

In case you have not been keeping score, the very last few programs who still needed to see Calculus as a prerequisite very quietly abandoned the requirement a few years ago.  There was a time in MBA history when every program insisted on students having taken Calculus and other yucky courses which demonstrated analytic and quantitative ability.  Even the quantitatively gifted can appreciate this change.

Perhaps the most notable change in the MBA over the years, however, has been in the variety of MBA program offerings. 

When the full time MBA failed to meet everyone’s needs, they invented the part time MBA, then came the weekend MBA, then the Global MBA, the one-year MBA, the Executive MBA and now even the online MBA.  Today you can essentially “get your MBA on” in just about every way imaginable.  Not to mention all the “almost MBA” degrees that have popped up.

GMAC recently reported that these so-called “competing” programs are also on the rise, which likely eats into both full time and part time MBA enrollment, but may also be growing the pie overall, especially considering many of these degrees did not even exist several years ago.  They mention 35% of Master in Data Analytics programs are new in 2017, 19% of Master of Supply Chain Management programs are new in 2017, and 16% of Master of Marketing are new in 2017. While these are not MBA programs per se, they share some core curriculum similarities and are in some cased being undertaken in lieu of an MBA program for candidates who have a very specific career goal in mind. 

If there's one thing that has remained the same over all these years, it's probably been the incredible career boost the MBA offers.  

Companies still highly value the degree and greatly reward those who have it.  No matter what kind of MBA program or other graduate business program you are thinking might work well for you, we can help you craft a winning application.

To find out more about your options and how we can help you with your business school application, email us at or contact us via