Business schools are discovering that cutting programs may actually lead to a better learning experience for students and make more economic sense for the university.
After years of adding programs to attract more students in a competitive market, business schools have discovered that the result has been students confused by the number of programs offered and administrators burdened with trying to manage it all, according to The Wall Street Journal.
In some cases, students ended up competing with themselves.
For example, Temple University’s Fox School of Business eliminated its master’s program in management information systems in 2010 because it was competing against a similar program in Temple’s College of Science and Technology.
At Loyola University Chicago, the Quinlan School of Business ended a 15-year-old MBA program based in Kenosha, Wis., about 70 miles north of the school’s main campus. The program was losing students to a similar program started by Loyola University in 2011 that was based in Chicago, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“The market was telling us something,” Kathleen Getz, the dean of the Quinlan school, told the Journal. Loyola’s teaches businesses how to determine market demand and identify competitors, and “it’s time we start practicing what we preach,” Getz said.
There is certainly competition to get business majors. About 21% of undergraduates nationwide are getting a degree in business, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s the most of any degree, followed by social sciences and history (11%), education (7%) and health sciences (7%), according to National Center for Education Statistics numbers.
In illustrating the new thinking among some business schools, the Wall Street Journal used the example of IE Business School in Madrid, considering one of the elite business schools in the world. In 2012, the school merged 12 programs in its business school into just two programs.
Santiago Iniguez, the IE Business School dean, said that much like in the business world, business schools need to constantly look for the best way to adapt to a changing market.
“Schools that want to be at the cutting edge of the market need to change their curriculum much more frequently,” Iniguez told the Wall Street Journal.
Many schools are cutting programs to cut costs. But business school leaders told the Journal that is not the only reason for the cuts. In addition to trying to keep from competing against similar programs within their own schools, universities also are trying to trim programs so they can focus on one or two more promising areas.
As an example, the Journal cited the University of New Hampshire’s Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics, which recently cut a master’s of science program that targeted engineers seeking to gain business knowledge. While the program did well, the school wanted to focus efforts more on the core MBA program and the undergraduate programs, which are doing even better.