Northwestern’s Kellogg pushes one-year MBA program

Joseph Diebold

With prospective Masters of Business Administration students looking to cut costs in a down economy, Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management plans to increase the size of its one-year MBA program and decrease its two-year program, the school announced Monday.

The announcement came as part of Kellogg’s larger strategic review, which coincided with the launch of a new Envision Kellogg website. The review included a commitment to expand internationally to Shanghai and Sao Paulo, and a new four-point teaching plan with a focus on interdisciplinary education. Kellogg Dean Sally Blount, who took over in July 2010, spearheaded the initiative.

“We predict that growth in demand for the two-year MBA is going to slow while demand for one-year programs will grow,” Blount told The Daily in an email. “Even though people in their 20s can expect to live longer lives than ever before, many feel as though they cannot afford to take as much time out of the marketplace for pursuing advanced education.”

Kellogg currently offers the one-year MBA for students who have already completed some of the required coursework, typically as undergraduates. Enrollment in the program has risen each of the past five years. Blount predicted that would continue over the next five years, with the program growing to 250 students from 85 in 2011, while the two-year program’s enrollment would drop to about 850 students from 1,115.

Becca Roux, who is enrolled in a joint law and business program, said she supports the new strategy. Roux said while the abbreviated program has forced her to work harder and prioritize her course load, she does not feel shortchanged.

“It is worthwhile to expand (the one-year program),” Roux said. “Over the long run the two-year program isn’t going to be as sustainable because there’s so much opportunity cost and it’s expensive and getting ever more expensive.”

The one-year program has also withstood the drop in applications that has hit most top-tier business schools. While applications to Kellogg’s full-time program fell 5.6 percent in 2011, applications to the one-year program have risen 30.4 percent since 2007.

Blount said the move is indicative of Kellogg practicing what it teaches. The school is currently ranked the top business school for marketing by U.S. News & World Report.

“Our intention to rebalance our portfolio is based on market needs – that is, how the globalization of commerce and the changes in the global economic power balance are shaping the types of higher education that the most talented students seek,” she wrote in the email. “At Kellogg, one of our core strengths is our deep insight into customers – the demand side of the market.”

Second-year MBA student Rajeev Chebolu said he understands the appeal of the one-year program and wishes he had considered it more.

“It definitely makes some sense, particularly for international students, because it cuts down time and is a little cheaper,” Chebolu said. “To some extent, I feel a little stupid because if one year becomes the trend and they are getting all the same jobs as we are, you kind of feel like a chump.”

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