UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State Smeal College of Business announced today (August 22) its intention to implement changes to its full-time resident master’s degree in business administration that will enhance the college’s growing portfolio of professional graduate programs and strengthen its strategic focus on lifelong learning.
According to Charles Whiteman, John and Karen Arnold Dean, the college intends to transition its two-year resident MBA to a one-year MBA with a STEM designation aimed at early-career professionals starting in the fall of 2023. The new degree, which will also replace the one-year master’s degree in management and organizational leadership, representing the latest step in a decade-long transformation of professional graduate programs in response to changing student needs and preferences. Other recent changes include the addition of an executive doctorate in business administration, a new master’s degree in accounting analysis, and a redesign of the executive MBA in Philadelphia.
“We have long believed that it is time to think differently about graduate business education in America, and we have been committed to leading,” said Whiteman. “Today’s business leaders hope to acquire new skills on a need basis and in a curriculum that can be tailored to the specific needs of their role, company, industry, or life stage.”
Whiteman points to Smeal’s flexible and integrated portfolio of graduate programs as evidence of the college’s leadership in lifelong learning. Smeal now offers three forms of MBA (online MBA in collaboration with Penn State World Campus and Penn State’s Behrend, Harrisburg and Great Valley campuses; executive MBA in Philadelphia; and proposed one-year MBA for early-career professionals), new doctorate in business administration, 14 online and resident specialty master’s degrees, and 14 online certificates. The proposed STEM designation for the one-year MBA will enhance Smeal’s ability to attract the best and brightest domestic and international students, particularly those pursuing management positions in information technology, architecture, engineering and related fields.
“We recognize that one size does not fit all of the evolving needs of our students,” said Whiteman. “In the past decade, Smeal has built one of the largest and most robust portfolios of graduate professional business in the country, providing learning options for working professionals across all career stages and life circumstances. As enrollment in Smeal online and specialized one-year business master’s degrees continues to increase, this transition will provide Penn State students with new opportunities for specialized degree programs that help them meet their educational and career goals.
The future of MBA
According to the Graduate Management Admissions Council, more than half (54%) of the 50 full-time US MBA programs ranked by US News and World Report reported a decline in domestic application volumes in 2021 compared to the previous year. For programs rated 51 and below, 7 out of 10 (69%) reported a decrease in domestic application volume compared to the previous year.
“Over the years, the number of students interested in committing to a full-time two-year residency program has continued to decline while other, more flexible learning options have mushroomed across the country,” Whiteman said. He noted that the University of Iowa, University of Illinois, and Wake Forest University have in the past five years closed their two-year resident MBA programs.
“At Smeal, we have carefully evaluated our program over several years and arrived at a solution that leverages the strengths of our integrated professional graduate portfolio. We considered many factors and, in the end, made a forward-thinking and financially responsible decision,” continued Whiteman.
Initially, Smeal planned to offer two parts of the early-career one-year MBA program, each consisting of 55 to 60 students. Fall 2022 marks the final admission to the two-year resident MBA program, and the new career early one-year MBA program will be offered for the first time in Fall 2023.