As graduate business programs across the nation face dropping enrollment rates, the University of Dallas Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business (COB) graduate programs have experienced consecutive growth in the last three years after 13 years of decreased enrollment, according to Bret Landry, COB Dean.
Over the years, the College of Business has been aware of the national decline in enrollment and has taken steps to counteract this trend, according to Landry.
Applications to US graduate business programs are down by about seven percent from 2017, according to the recent Graduate Management Admission Council survey report. Additionally, applications for two-year MBA programs have been falling since 2014.
Dean Landry addressed the trends of declining enrollment for higher education institutions in general.
“Higher education is under a lot of threats,” he said. “Is college relevant? Is it worth the financial aid debt? Is it worth the increased costs? Will I get a job afterwards? Those [questions] are all things that are affecting universities everywhere.”
In 2006, the COB responded by intentionally diversifying their graduate business offerings, according to Landry. At that time, UD only had three students enrolled in the Master of Science technology program. Today, enough students are enrolled in the Master of Science programs that these programs comprise half of UD’s business offerings.
Due to these efforts, graduate business programs now constitute over 50% of UD’s tuition revenue, reported Landry.
“So had we not decided to make an intentional decision to diversity… the university might be in a… real sense of hurt,” Landry said.
The school of business’ enrollment decreased during the first four of the past seven years, but has grown in the past three years, according to Landry.
He attributes the initial decline in enrollment to “so many other schools in the metroplex [copying] what [the college of business] did: the idea of a part-time professional online MBA program.”
He credits the past three years of consecutive growth to the COB’s position on the “forefront of innovation” in the academic world. UD was one of the first institutions to offer a part-time professional MBA program.
“A lot of other universities have copied what [the college of business does],” Landry said, referring to aspects of the part-time program as well as to other business programs.
The COB, founded in 1966, is “world recognized” for its graduate business program, according to Landry.
The university tried to institute the Business BA when the university was founded, but it was discontinued in 1966 to focus on the Graduate School of Management, according to Landry. Since it was reinstated in 2003, the Business BA has become the largest major at UD, seconded by the Biology BA. About 17% of the entire undergraduate population typically become business majors.
“Other [business] deans right now are scrambling, [while] we have a nice portfolio of MBA and master of science programs, and new master of science programs on the horizon,” Landry said.
UD is weathering the current national decline better than other schools because, unlike many of its imitators, UD did not invest all of its attention and resources in the MBA program, according to Landry.
“[The college of business] need[s] to be [confident],” Landry said. “We need to be thinking about the future.”