Posts by Kelly Vo

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Sep 22, 2017 by

U.S. Small School MBA Programs are Shrinking

Small School MBA Programs are Shrinking

Large U.S. graduate business programs—those with more than 200 students—report that times are good. In fact, three in four (73 percent) of these programs saw application volume increase this year, according to the 2017 Application Trends Survey, released yesterday by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

But the news is not as rosy for smaller programs. For programs that count 50 students or fewer, only 39 percent saw growth in application volume, while 7 percent remained steady, and 55 percent lost applicants year over year. Overall, among full-time, two-year MBA programs, less than a third (32 percent) of U.S. programs reported application volume gains this year, whereas 64 percent saw application volume decreases. The results mark the third consecutive year in which the majority of U.S. full-time, two-year MBA programs experienced application volume declines. Just three short years ago, those numbers were almost reversed, with 61 percent of U.S. programs reporting application volume increases in 2014.

Elsewhere in the world—including in Europe, East and Southeast Asia, and India—business schools had a very different story to tell. In each of these regions, the vast majority of programs saw application volume increases. In Europe, 76 percent of one-year, full-time MBA programs saw growth; in East and Southeast Asia, 77 percent of full-time, two-year MBA programs saw growth; and in India, 85 percent of full-time, two-year MBA programs reported increased application volume.

Source: 2017 GMAC Application Trends Survey

A Combination of Factors Chills Overall Demand for U.S. Graduate Business Programs

What gives? Why are business schools around the world seeing such demand for their programs while U.S. schools—with the exception of the largest, best-known schools—faltering?

“Demand for graduate business education remains strong, especially among the largest programs, which also tend to be the most well-known programs with brand recognition,” Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC President and CEO, said in a press release. “While non-U.S. programs are thriving, a strong economy and a disruptive political climate are likely contributing to the downward trend in application volumes among smaller U.S. programs this year.”

Strong Economy Hurts Domestic Application Volume

Citing past GMAC research, the current GMAC report notes that application volume to U.S. graduate business programs frequently runs counter-cyclical to the labor market. When jobs are plentiful, fewer see the need or can justify the opportunity cost of taking time out of the workforce to pursue an advanced degree. This could help explain why only 42 percent of U.S. programs reported growth in the domestic market this year, down from 61 percent in 2016. Exceptions to this trend can be seen in two degree programs, though, according to GMAC. Domestic application volumes grew for more than half of all full-time, one-year MBA programs (54 percent) and Master’s in Data Analytics programs (58 percent).

Trump Rhetoric Takes a Toll on International Applicant Volume 

More notable than the decline in domestic applicant volume was the decline in international applicant volume for U.S. programs. Less than a third (32 percent) of U.S. programs saw more international applicants this year than last—down from 49 percent the year before. Master in Data Analytics programs proved the only exception—67 percent of these in-demand programs saw international applications increase.

In fact, for the bigger, better-known U.S. schools that have been largely buffered from overall application volume decline, it’s because domestic applicants have applied in increasing numbers at those schools, offsetting declines in international applicants. According to GMAC, there has been a resurgence of domestic applicants at large programs, with 69 percent reporting increases in this applicant pool this year over last. Of these same programs, only 38 percent saw international application volume increase.


READ MORE: What are the Most Common Application Mistakes?


Other regions of the world, meanwhile, may be attracting some of the international applicants that have been giving U.S. programs a wider berth given concerns about potential changes to immigration policies and their impact on visas both for study and for work. According to this latest GMAC survey, twice as many graduate business programs in Europe and Canada saw international application volume increases as did programs in the United States. In Canada, 77 percent of programs reported upticks in international applicants, up from 46 percent in 2016. In Europe, 67 percent of programs saw international application volume growth, a more modest rise over the 65 percent reported there the year before. But even in the United Kingdom, where there was concern that the 2016 Brexit referendum could adversely impact international applicants in some of the same ways that Trump’s election and proposed changes to immigration policy did in the United States, almost two-thirds of programs have wooed more international applicants, not fewer. Notably, graduate business programs depend more heavily on international applicants than on domestic applicants, In Canada, domestic applicants comprised 30 percent of overall applicant volume, and in Europe, just 11 percent.

Women Are Applying to Graduate Business Programs at Record Levels

Another significant finding from the 2017 Application Trends Survey was an increase in women applicants. Women now represent 42 percent of all applications received by the participating programs, up from 37 percent from four years ago. Looking specifically at MBA programs, women accounted for 39 percent of applications, a six-point percentage gain since 2013.

Growth in female application volume was most widespread among MBA programs—44 percent saw increases this year over last. Fewer business master’s programs—39 percent—reported increased female applicant volume.

Additional Key Findings

A few other interesting statistics revealed by the most recent survey:

  • Overall part-time MBA volume has declined or remained stagnant since the Great Recession. The only exception is part-time lockstep programs, which enroll students in cohorts and provide more of a consistent set of classmates. Of these, 54 percent reported a growth in applications.
  • Employer sponsorship remained stable, with approximately 52 percent of part-time students expecting to receive support.
  • The experience level of applicants also remained consistent, with the majority of full-time MBA applicants having between three and 10 years of prior work experience.

The Application Trends Survey 2017 reviewed a total of 351 business schools around the global and 965 total graduate business programs—a record for the survey. To see the full results, download the 41-page report.

This article has been edited and republished with permissions from Clear Admit.

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Sep 15, 2017 by

Top MBA Programs for Producing Founders: 2017-2018 Report

business schools most companies

Recently, PitchBook released its latest 2017-2018 Top 50 Universities Report. The ranking focused on those universities that produced the “ultimate building blocks of the venture industry: founders.”

This ranking is vastly different from rankings of top schools for entrepreneurship by U.S. News & World ReportPrinceton Review, and Entrepreneur Magazine, all of which focus on factors like peer assessment surveys, curriculum, and entrepreneurial study options. Instead, PitchBook looked at a single criterion: founders of companies who received venture capital (VC) funding between January 1, 2006, and August 18, 2017, and where they went to school.

The report provides a fairly detailed breakdown of top undergraduate programs, companies (by capital raised), MBA programs, female founders, unicorns (companies that have attained the coveted $1 billion evaluation), and more. This article will focus solely on the results that relate to MBA programs, including information on female founders and unicorns.

Top MBA Programs

For the 2017-18 academic year, the top 10 MBA programs to produce founders who received VC funding were ranked as follows:

  1. Harvard Business School (HBS): 1,203 entrepreneurs, 1,086 companies, and $28,495 million raised
  2. Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB): 802 entrepreneurs, 716 companies, and $18,259 million raised
  3. University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School: 666 entrepreneurs, 585 companies, and $16,001 million raised
  4. INSEAD: 455 entrepreneurs, 406 companies, and $7,795 million raised
  5. Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management: 445 entrepreneurs, 417 companies, and $5,680 million raised
  6. Columbia Business School: 441 entrepreneurs, 410 companies, and $5,465 million raised
  7. MIT Sloan School of Management: 437 entrepreneurs, 384 companies, and $7,797 million raised
  8. University of Chicago Booth School of Business: 405 entrepreneurs, 368 companies, and $5,470 million raised
  9. University of California – Berkeley Haas School of Business: 344 entrepreneurs, 314 companies, and $5,191 million raised
  10. UCLA Anderson School of Management: 247 entrepreneurs, 232 companies, and $3,957 million raised

HBS stands out immediately for producing founders who receive VC funding. Harvard produced twice as many founders as its next closest competitor, and those founders pulled in $10M more in funding for their 1,000+ companies.

As for the reason behind Harvard’s success, there are multiple elements that contribute to its production of entrepreneurs. The school is home to the Arthur Rock Center for Entrepreneurship, which offers programs for budding entrepreneurs including curricular offerings (over a dozen courses), a New Venture Competition (which offers $300,000 in cash prizes), the Rock Accelerator, the Harvard Innovation Lab, and even a Loan Reduction program that supports graduating entrepreneurs with a one-time, need-based award of $10,000 to $20,000. HBS’s extensive alumni network also provides students with connections with managing directors, partners, and founders of top VC firms including Bain Capital Ventures, Apax Partners, and Accel Partners.

Another standout for the 2017-2018 year was INSEAD. The only non-U.S. MBA program to appear in the top 10, it also moved up a spot this year over last. INSEAD grew from 393 entrepreneurs, 348 companies, and $6,131 million in capital raised to 455, 406, and $7,794 million respectively.

INSEAD’s students are supported by the INSEAD Centre for Entrepreneurship (ICE), which was founded in 2003. The center offers MBA students a chance to participate in the INSEAD Venture Competition (IVC), Entrepreneurship Bootcamps, and the Entrepreneurship Teaching Innovation (ETI) Fund, which supports the development of the “Your First Hundred Days” elective for budding entrepreneurs.

Another MBA program of note is MIT Sloan School of Management, which was fourth in capital raised on this year’s PitchBook ranking. This could indicate more successful companies coming out of MIT or a higher percentage of VC funding available to Massachusetts’ graduates.

Some of the unique entrepreneurship opportunities available from other top programs include Stanford GSB’s Startup Garage, an intensive, hands-on project course for MBA students, as well as MIT Sloan’s Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, which includes an accelerator, coaching, and various events. Finally, the Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship Center offers resources, events, and courses for MBAs looking to explore, develop, launch, and scale a startup.

Top Female Founders & Unicorns

PitchBook also reviewed the top MBA programs for female founders. Once again, HBS and Stanford GSB ranked first and second, respectively, with 202 and 119 female founders. Columbia Business School ranked third with 77, Wharton ranked fourth with 71, and MIT came in at fifth with 60 female founders.

As for the unicorns, the top five MBA programs are similar to the previous lists.

  1. HBS: 22 entrepreneurs, 17 companies
  2. Stanford GSB: 14 entrepreneurs, 11 companies
  3. Wharton: 11 entrepreneurs, 8 companies
  4. INSEAD: 8 entrepreneurs, 7 companies
  5. MIT Sloan: 6 entrepreneurs, 6 companies

This article has been edited and republished with permissions from Clear Admit.

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Sep 12, 2017 by

Vault’s Top Investment Banks for MBAs to Work for in 2018

Vault top investment banks 2018

While a career in investment banking may not be as highly sought after anymore among MBAs, it’s still a fairly popular option. And according to a U.S. News interview with Jeff McNish, Assistant Dean of the Career Development Center at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, investment banks and consulting firms are raising their compensation offers to draw in more students. These companies are willing to pay a premium to draw MBA talent. The question is, which are the best investment banks to work for?

Vault Banking 50 recently released its annual ranking of the best investment banks in North America. The list was compiled through a survey of 2,400 banking professionals and used a weighted formula to review such issues as quality of life—including culture, satisfaction, work/life balance, training, and compensation—and overall prestige.

This year, Goldman Sachs took the #1 spot—with a score of 8.380—maintaining its title of “best investment bank to work for.” Coming in at a close second was Evercore (8.311), followed by Centerview Partners (8.308), and Morgan Stanley (8.114).

The top 10:

  1. Goldman Sachs
  2. Evercore
  3. Centerview Partners
  4. Morgan Stanley
  5. Moelis & Company
  6. Greenhill & Co.
  7. Lazard
  8. Perella Weinberg Partners
  9. Bank of America
  10. PJT Partners

Goldman Sachs Still #1

This was the second year in a row that Goldman Sachs took the top spot, with survey responders saying such things as: “The firm is extremely focused on improving work/life balance. In the time that I’ve been here, I’ve seen a tremendous difference, not only as a result of formal policies but also in the culture and mindset of those who work here.”

Respondents also said that Goldman Sachs provided workers with various benefits including “exposure to talented, thoughtful, respectful colleagues” and “challenging, intellectually stimulating assignments.” Even respondents at Goldman Sachs’ competitors had mostly nice things to say. They called the firm “a finance machine” and “the gold standard.”

Other elements that set Goldman Sachs apart include its protected-weekend-day policies for junior bankers, no-working-past-midnight policies for interns, and fast-track promotions. It was also one of the first banks to provide a modern performance review system as well as to implement video interviews during on-campus recruiting.

Other Investment Banks Making Waves

As for Evercore, it rose two places in 2018 from #4 to #2. Much of its rise in placement was due to its increase in prestige as well as the company’s focus on a better working environment for its employees. In fact, Evercore came in first place in two areas: formal training and informal training.

As for what some of the survey respondents had to say about Evercore: “We have an outstanding, very teamwork-oriented, and collaborative culture. The firm is filled with very intelligent people treating each other with respect and working together to give clients the best advice possible. The atmosphere is very positive—lots of high fives on wins and no dressing-down calls if you miss a piece of business.”

In third place, Centerview Partners is a small boutique investment banking firm. Insiders stated that the firm is filled with “extremely talented, smart, and thoughtful senior bankers” and that “deal opportunities are unparalleled.”

Another boutique investment bank to make it to the top of the list was Moelis, which ranked fifth. The firm rose four places this year thanks to its “great culture” and “smart dedicated people.”

Investment Banks Focused on Diversity 

The Vault Banking 50 also measured firms’ focus on diversity. Loop Capital Markets led the way for the second year in a row, coming in first for overall diversity, minority diversity, female diversity, and LGBT diversity. However, following close behind were Evercore (which placed #2 in overall diversity, female diversity, and minority diversity) and Goldman Sachs (which placed #3 for overall diversity, minority diversity, and LGBT diversity).

To see the full report, visit the Vault.com.

This article has been edited and republished with permissions from Clear Admit.

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Sep 8, 2017 by

The Business of Art Meets the Art of Business: New Oxford Saïd Exhibition Explores Their Intersection

Oxford Art Exhibition

In an aim to initiate discussions on the relationship between business and the arts, the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School will launch a fine art exhibition. The exhibition, curated by the Zuleika Gallery, will be held on September 13 and is open to all students, faculty, and the community.

The exhibit will feature a collection of British art from the 20th century to present day including avant-garde works from the St. Ives School, Pop Art, and pure abstraction. Many of the art works that will be presented are on loan from the Arts Council Collection, including pieces from pop artist Patrick Caulfield and abstract artist Wilhelmina Barns-Graham.

“I believe this exhibition perfectly reflects the ethos and values of Saïd Business School, and it acts as the visual equivalent of creative thinking, excellence, and innovation,” Lizzie Collins, Director or the Zuleika Gallery and curator of the exhibition, said in a news release.

The event will take place at the Saïd Business School and will also include a talk by Stephen Alvarez, an award-winning National Geographic photographer, filmmaker, and explorer. Alvarez has published more than a dozen feature stories in National Geographic on topics ranging from exploration and adventure to culture and archaeology. He is also the founder of the Ancient Art Archive, which is a non-profit foundation that uses photography and the newest image-based virtual reality (VR) technology to preserve and share the world’s oldest art.

Through the talk and the exhibit, Saïd plans to address the following topics:

  • Why did we start making art?
  • What can art tell us about today’s world of image-based social media?
  • How can digital technology help us explore, share, and preserve our first stories?

This event is not the first time that Oxford Saïd has studied art and business. In October 2014, the university welcomed the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology. It was a part of a series of activities put together by the business school and Oxford’s leading humanities scholars under the title, “Engaging with the Humanities.” In addition, the university is home to the Oxford Business Network for Art and Business, an extension of the alumni network seeking specifically to promote and exchange ideas surrounding the art industry.

To learn more about how the Saïd Business School looks at the intersection of art and business and to attend this free event, visit the Art at Saïd Business School event page.

This article has been edited and republished with permissions from Clear Admit.

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Sep 6, 2017 by

Business, University Leaders Speak Out Against DACA Repeal

When the Trump administration formally announced yesterday that it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA)—putting a six-month expiration date on legal protections granted to approximately 800,000 people who entered the U.S. illegally as children—universities and business leaders were quick to condemn it. Indeed, vocal defense of the “Dreamers,” as those in the DACA program are called, resounded from Silicon Valley to the Ivy League.

“Dreamers contribute to our companies and our communities just as much as you and I,” tweeted Tim Cook, CEO of Apple and an MBA graduate of Emory’s Goizueta Business School. “Apple will fight for them to be treated as equals.” In an earlier statement Cook noted that Apple employs hundreds of people covered by DACA.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg released his own statement on his personal Facebook page. “This is a sad day for our country,” he wrote. “The decision to end DACA is not just wrong. It is particularly cruel to offer young people the American Dream, encourage them to come out of the shadows and trust our government, and then punish them for it.” He added that the young people covered by DACA contribute to their communities and to the economy. “I’ve gotten to know some Dreamers over the past few years, and I’ve always been impressed by their strength and sense of purpose. They don’t deserve to live in fear.”

DACA was enacted in 2012 under former President Barack Obama by executive order, allowing individuals who were brought to the United States as children or teens before mid-2007 to apply for protection from deportation and work permits. To apply, they had to be younger than 31 at the time the program was created, have come to the U.S. before turning 16, and have lived in the U.S. for at least five years. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reports that roughly 788,000 have had their requests for DACA status accepted.

University and Business School Leaders Denounce DACA Repeal

Center for American Progress survey of roughly 3,000 DACA recipients found that approximately 72 percent of respondents were in higher education, 13 percent of those pursuing master’s degrees. And leaders in higher education—including at several leading business schools—were every bit as vocal as major business leaders in calling out the Trump administration’s decision and pledging their support to Dreamers.

Geoffrey Garrett, dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, called the repeal of DACA “bad for the economy and bad for society” in a tweet that also expressed his support for an official statement issued earlier in the day by University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutman.

Maryellen Reilly, Wharton ‎Deputy Vice Dean for Admissions, financial aid and career management, quoted from Gutman’s statement in her own tweet: “At Penn, we are committed to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all of our students and we will do everything we can…”

Columbia University, home to Columbia Business School (CBS), issued its own statement in opposition to the repeal of DACA. “Columbia unequivocally opposes the ending of DACA and is working with others in higher education to urge Congress and federal officials to reinstate DACA’s protections and protect the rights of those with DACA status during and after the ‘wind-down’ process that has been announced,” it read. It went on to add that in keeping with Provost John Henry Coatsworth’s November pledge, “our policies and plans aim to ensure that students who had DACA coverage are able to proceed unimpeded with their studies and that all students in the community feel safe and understand beyond question that Columbia’s dedication to inclusion and diversity, including of undocumented students, is and will remain unwavering.” CBS quickly retweeted its parent university’s stance and linked to the full statement.

And the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley tweeted: “We stand with our undocumented students.” That tweet linked to a statement issued by three ranking university administrators—Chancellor Carol Christ, Vice Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion Oscar, and Undocumented Student Program Director Meng So—that called on the Berkeley community to stand with undocumented scholars at the university and beyond.

“At a time when our campus and community values are being challenged by the prevailing national rhetoric and policy making, we must deepen our resolve and commitment to our principles and to each other,” read the Berkeley administrators’ statement. “During these difficult moments, we must defend strongly held values of dignity, diversity and community.”

The Kelley School of Business at Indiana University at Bloomington, for its part, retweeted its parent university’s official statement and pledge to support all its students.

In the statement, IU President Michael A. McRobbie called out the decision to end DACA “especially in light of the administration’s prior statements expressing support for young people protected by DACA and the strong bipartisan support that exists nationwide for maintaining the program.”

McRobbie went on to underscore the university’s support of all its students. “We believe that all of our students, regardless of their background or country of origin, bring to our campuses unique perspectives and experiences that enrich our living and learning communities,” he wrote. “In doing so, they reflect who we are—and what we strive to be—as a university that provides all students with the opportunity to expand their knowledge and succeed in a place where they feel valued, respected and at home.”

In fact, IU features an entire website—DACA @ IU—dedicated to helping DACA students at the university. On the website, the university states that though bound by state and federal laws, it will take steps to support all IU students regardless of documentation and will only inquire into a person’s immigration status when required by law. IU also provides counseling and support to students who have immigration-related concerns, including connecting students with available resources for educational and living expenses.

Penn, Columbia, Berkeley, and IU are just a few of countless schools that spoke out against the Trump administration’s decision. Prior to the final decision to end DACA, 600 college and university presidents signed a statement promoting DACA back in November. Even more recently, Duke University’s President Vincent E. Price wrote a letter in support of the program, and University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel made a statement as part of the university’s September 1st convocation saying, “I would like to reiterate to all of our students, from our own state, elsewhere around the country, and from all around the world, that you are welcome here … You make us a stronger university and enrich our community and nation by your many talents, hard work, and the diverse perspectives and life experiences you bring to campus.”

As information continues to be provided by the Trump administration, many universities and schools are preparing to provide up-to-date information for their DACA students and all who are affected. Check in with your school for more information.

This article has been edited and republished with permissions from Clear Admit.

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Aug 23, 2017 by

Researchers at Columbia Business School Address MBA Gender Gap

MBA Gender Gap

Over the last few years, top business schools across the world have worked toward gender parity in their MBA programs—with considerable progress. Many MBA programs now admit more than 30 percent women, and a growing number of leading schools top the 40-percent mark. But amid these strides, another problem has emerged: an academic performance gap between male and female students. Recently, researchers at Columbia Business School (CBS) dug into the gender performance gap issue to understand why it happens and how to fix it.

After completing multiple empirical studies, including a survey of MBA students and a review of performance data, the researchers found that both students’ background and their behavior in class have the biggest impact on the gender performance gap. Further, the researchers found that the performance difference was most evident in technically focused classes, such as accounting and finance, and less so in socially oriented courses, such as leadership and marketing.

According to Michael Morris, CBS Leadership Professor and one of the study’s authors, the findings shed “new light” on the gender performance gap at top business schools. “But more importantly, they offer business school leaders directions for policies to effectively redress the grade gap,” he continued in a press release.

The researchers found that one of the main reasons behind the performance gap in technically oriented classes was the students’ background. After examining reported interests in both admissions applications and career counseling inventories, the researchers found that female students are more inclined toward the “poet” interest profile, while male students are more inclined toward the “quant.” For top MBA programs, this means that from the first day of class, male and female students come in with different interests, aptitudes, and experiences that will need to be addressed in order to break gender norms.

Gender norms were also a problem when it came to behavior in the MBA program. Researchers found that female students were typically less assertive, which hindered their learning in technical courses.

“Our research shows that female students far too often hold back and hesitate to ask the kinds of questions that would help them better master technical concepts and procedures, perhaps because it is inconsistent with the established gender norms linking men with technical ability. This has a profound effect on their overall achievement in MBA classes,” said author Aaron Wallen, Executive Director of the Management Division at Columbia’s School of Professional Studies and a former CBS lecturer.

To truly close the gender gap does not simply mean enrolling 50 percent female students, the researchers noted. Instead, top MBA programs also need to do the following three things:

  1. Sponsor programs that bring in more technically oriented female candidates.
  2. Conduct outreach to STEM undergraduate programs.
  3. Reduce required work experience to enroll younger students.

They also recommended including a training program for both faculty and students to teach them the skills for eliciting and managing participation in the classroom and other work settings.

To learn more about the research study—authored by CBS Professors Wallen, Morris, and Jackson G. Lu and INSEAD Professor Beth A. Devine—click here.

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