Our Latest Report | A new MBA for a new world

08 February 2021

Our co-founder Andrew Crisp digests the insights from our latest Tomorrow's MBA market report.


It would be surprising if the COVID-19 pandemic did not have an impact on the future of the MBA, but the truth is that the MBA was already changing; it may be that the accelerator has now been pressed hard to the floor.

Recent years have seen the launch of a growing number of online MBA degrees, increasing content around sustainability issues and the arrival of a number of new entrants in the MBA space, including several from the private sector seeking to reinvent the MBA. Tomorrow’s MBA, the study of prospective MBA students carried out by CarringtonCrisp with EFMD for the past 12 years has tracked many of these changes and this year’s report is no different.

Most prominent this year is the growing demand for new content in MBA degrees to reflect the world that students live in today and anticipate tomorrow. Just over half (52%) of this year’s study respondents say it is very important that their MBA includes content on responsible management, up 10% on last year. More than 40% want content in their studies that covers diversity, equality and inclusion, global challenges such as climate change, poverty and pandemics, and ethical leadership. Of course, corporate finance and leadership are still staples of an MBA degree, but students know that business is not an island, operating apart from wider society and they want to understand how they can lead businesses in tomorrow’s world. And it’s not just content that is changing.

Students increasingly appreciate that an MBA isn’t the end of education, but that the need for reskilling and upskilling is likely to continue throughout a career. In a new question in this year’s study, students were provided with four different options for studying their MBA and asked which would interest them. Offered the possibility of studying for an MBA over several years when it suited them, 43% of the survey respondents said they were very interested. A further 37% are very interested in an MBA which offers opportunities to do further study at a low cost over the next ten years to top up or add new skills.

MBA applications are on the rise again. In this year’s study, 70% of respondents said they were more likely to make an application that they were a year ago. There’s nothing new in such a response – economic uncertainty and recession have historically driven people back to campus. However, although the one and two year full-time MBAs remain popular, 46% are seeking some form of flexible study, with those preferring a wholly online MBA up 4% in a year to 15.46%.

There have been changes coming on to MBA programmes over the last few years. Those will continue to evolve, but perhaps more quickly following the COVID pandemic. It will draw in new content, new approaches to learning and new opportunities for MBA graduates to ensure it is fit for purpose, so it does become a new MBA for a new world.


To purchase a copy of the 2021 Tomorrow’s MBA report, please visit the Tomorrow’s MBA page of our website.

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