Columbia Business School Dean Glenn Hubbard Optimistic about the Future of the MBA

Glenn Hubbard, Dean of Columbia Business School, recently sat down with the Wall Street Journal’s economics journalist David Wessel to answer questions about Columbia’s MBA program and new curriculum trends in MBA study. With a decade’s worth of experience to support his analysis, Hubbard projected that MBA graduates and programs will continue to flourish–if instructors and students remain adaptable.

When asked by Wessel to identify areas of concern in Columbia’s MBA program, Hubbard immediately isolated the high cost of attendance. With tuition, room and board, and other sundry expenses included, one year at Columbia’s MBA program costs over $90,000–and Hubbard notes that this expense doesn’t take into account the two years of earnings a student foregoes in salary. Under Hubbard’s guidance, CBS has slowed down hikes in tuition and, he claimed, will continue to research how to make the degree more affordable.

Wessel then asked Hubbard if MOOCs–or Massive Online Open Courses–will be a game-changer for MBA programs. Although CBS has not allied itself with any MOOC in particular, Hubbard clarified that online instruction could only function as a supplement rather than a replacement for classroom-centered MBA education. Instructors and classmates alike push students to think critically and solve problems in a manner similar to the boardroom and workplace. MOOCs, while delivering solid content, cannot replicate that fundamental part of MBA instruction.

Hubbard gives his take on the strategic direction MBA programs must follow if they hope to produce competitive, flexible graduates. The key? Integrated curricula. He predicts that the hard divisions between subject matter and concentrations within MBA programs will begin to melt away, and faculty will look for creative ways to teach outside of their own specialization. In a similar vein, Hubbard advises MBA applicants to hold off on specialization and to embrace the general management coursework of an MBA.

Finally, Hubbard took an enthusiastic outlook on job prospects for MBA graduates. Encouraged by the surge in recent hiring rates for MBAs, he pointed to the areas of creative development as a key source of better job prospects. As a group, MBA graduates possess the ability to think critically and implement projects, making them successful entrepreneurs who have proven capable of launching new ventures across a range of industries. At Columbia Business School, he added, MBAs are also leaders. Hubbard and Wessel’s conversation concluded with the Dean’s comment that leadership was the quality most sought after among applicants to CBS, a statement prospective CBS applicants would be wise to note.

Hubbard’s clear message was that despite the high cost of tuition, the influence of online mediums for delivering education, and the uncertain economy, the MBA will remain the best path to professional success.



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