A recent Wall Street Journal article focused on the steep decline in elite MBA program applications. In an era of an increasing divide between the economic haves and have nots, you’d think that the vaunted Masters in Business Administration degree would be valued more than ever. After all, with the recent boom in the stock market coinciding with a steep reduction in corporate taxes, big corporations are awash in profits to reward their highest achievers. Though there has been only slight progress in wage increases for rank and file employees, the top brass is enjoying greater compensation than ever. And a quick look at the CEOs of the companies with highest market caps reveal at least one thing in common: both leaders obtained MBAs from prestigious institutions. Apple’s Tim Cook graduated from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, while Satya Nadella of Microsoft received his MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago.
Yet MBA applications are down sharply, even at the most celebrated institutions. The Journal article has highlighted declines between 5-20% in applications to the top U.S. MBA programs. What gives?