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Q&A: Is business school good value for money?


Is business school good value for money? This is not just about the six-figure expense of returning to full-time study for an MBA programme — NYU Stern, for example, estimates costs of $233,000 over two years.

It applies more widely to anyone thinking about attending business school — for any course. The cost of the two-year part-time executive MBA programme at Wharton is estimated by the school at $214,800, including housing and meals during weekend visits to campus.

The real value, for many students and would-be students, lies in the teaching, networks and career advancement. But do these justify the premium cost of a top business school, compared with the alternatives — or not going into further training at all? Many companies now run in-house management training and business schools offer bespoke executive education courses for corporate clients.

The question of value has been thrust back into the spotlight by coronavirus and the impact it has had on teaching. Is the cost worthwhile when you are stuck at home watching lectures via video conferencing? No wonder so many MBA students have signed petitions, demanding tuition fee refunds.

The question of what is a fair price to pay for leadership training has been rumbling for several years.

At its root lies the question of tuition fees, which had been escalating at well above inflation rates for several years since the 2008 financial crisis. But it is also about the cost in terms of time: when many jobs can be done from anywhere — as many of us have discovered — why not acquire skills when and where you please?

Some business schools now allow students to pay for individual course modules, spreading cost and the time commitment. Others offer access to free further study after graduation.

Alternative models of studying to obtain management skills offer different ways of learning, such as peer-to-peer study over apps. Others stress flexibility, offering after-work study in specific skills such as negotiation techniques or public speaking, taught by practitioners rather than academics. Is this the future of business education?

Are you still planning to attend business school — and if so, which course appeals? Or do you think employers, post-crisis, may invest in more in-house education for senior staff — rendering some business schools vulnerable?

FT experts answered readers comments and questions in the comments thread below this article on Monday June 15.


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