Hybrid learning and artificial intelligence are essential for future MBA students

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Hybrid learning and artificial intelligence are essential for future MBA students

Young person with headphones works on computer during virtual meeting in dorm room.

A new report shows that artificial intelligence (AI) is once again at the top of prospective students’ lists for major topics in the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.

An increasing number of business schools are incorporating artificial intelligence into their MBA programs. According to the MBA 2024 Tomorrow’s report prepared by the British consulting company CarringtonCrisp, such a comprehensive approach to artificial intelligence reflects the great interest of potential students.

The majority of prospective MBA students – 53% – selected artificial intelligence as an important topic to cover in their business curriculum.

Other important topics, chosen by 41% to 48% of respondents, were also technology-related: technology management, data analytics and decision-making, digital transformation, information management, digital marketing and e-commerce all put potential students on tops the list of interests related to artificial intelligence.

As BestColleges previously reported, artificial intelligence also took the top spot in 2023.

MBA Tomorrow’s report presents potential students from a global perspective: 2,263 people from 32 countries participated in the study. Most respondents were between 26 and 40 years old. About 52% were men and 48% were women.

This diverse group of respondents has overwhelmingly embraced AI. Many said they would use AI to help them create a strong MBA application. However, the report found that almost three-quarters of prospective students said AI could not replace the “creativity required for good quality instructional design.”

“Schools are aware that this is happening,” CarringtonCrisp co-founder Andrew Crisp told BestColleges in an interview. “They don’t want content being downloaded in bulk from one of these providers, but they realize it’s being exploited. It is therefore important to embrace this principle and create an environment where it is used positively to enhance the MBA experience.”

Hybrid learning in high demand

Prospective students largely want to study full-time MBA studies. Nearly three-quarters of students said they wanted to study full-time, but few wanted only in-person learning.

Students want “the best of both worlds,” Crisp said.

“People want the flexibility that online studies provide them, whether it’s synchronous or asynchronous, and they want face-to-face meetings to provide them with an experience and enable them to connect more than anything else,” Crisp said.

An increasing number of MBA programs include hybrid options for students, with an emphasis on flexibility for working students.

Students practice ethics and inclusion

Diversity, inclusion and ethics were also important topics for prospective students – as reflected in the Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) 2024 Prospective Student Survey.

Approximately 82% of Tomorrow’s MBA report respondents said they were interested in content related to diversity, equity and inclusion in the MBA program. Students were also interested in responsible management, ethical leadership and global challenges.

CarringtonCrisp introduced questions on these topics several years ago, and Crisp has found that the percentage has increased slightly each year since they were introduced.

“There is an element of employer demand here,” Crisp said. “Employers are responding to these social issues and saying, ‘If we’re going to maintain strong customer relationships, we need to understand our customers and where they are and what issues are important to them. So we need people who come to our company with an understanding of these issues.”

In last year’s MBA Tomorrow’s survey, climate change was among the top 10 student interests, but this year it dropped to 26th place. Many factors contributed to this shift: CarringtonCrisp also introduced “sustainability” as an interest, which ranked 15th in importance. Students also touched on the issue of climate change in last year’s report, given that at the time survey data was collected for this report, the UN Climate Change Summit, also known as COP27, was about to take place.

MBA students consider alternatives

An increasing number of business schools are including stackable qualifications in their curriculum, and these short-term skill-building alternatives are popular with prospective students.

Prospective students indicated that they would consider a number of alternatives to an MBA, with professional certificates being the most popular. Other popular alternatives included other master’s programs, certificates and diplomas, and continuing professional development.

Respondents were also well versed in the mini-MBA. These short-term, accelerated programs cover many of the same skills as an MBA in an accelerated format.

This history was produced by The best universities and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.