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Exploring Several Trends: Non-Degree Programs, Degree Levels, and Advising Services at Business Schools

July 2014

Non-Degree versus Degree Programs, Degree Levels Offered, and Advising Services at AACSB-Accredited Institutions, 2007–2008, 2011–2012

Often, when we think of business school administration research, we focus solely on the numeric portion of the data. For instance, total enrollment, degrees conferred, and admissions information at the forefront. While these things are all extremely important, it also is helpful to take a look at some of the characteristic data that schools share on the annual Business School Questionnaire (BSQ). To keep the data somewhat comparable, the figures here are based on 482 AACSB-accredited institutions that participated in the 2007–2008 and 2011–2012 BSQ.

Traditionally, a large portion of research is done related to data on degree granting programs, however; many AACSB-accredited schools also offer non-degree programs in business. These non-degree offerings may be certificate programs or independent classes available to non-traditional students or those not seeking a full business degree. Non-degree or executive education programs also are an avenue for business schools to offer additional value to individuals pursuing business training. In 2007–2008, 55% of AACSB-accredited schools offered some type of non-degree program in addition to their traditional degrees. By 2011–2012, based on the same set of schools, this percentage increased to 57%.

Next, another data point that is interesting is degree level. Any change in the degree levels being offered by a school can provide insight related to overall market forces—particularly consumer demand. Using the same set of schools, the chart below shows that there has been a small increase (30.9% to 32.6%) in the percentage of schools offering all three education levels (undergraduate/masters/doctorate), while all of the other options decreased slightly or remained the same. There were no schools in this group that classified themselves as doctoral only. The largest decrease in this group was found at the undergraduate only level. While 7% of the participating AACSB-accredited schools reported as undergraduate only in 2007–2008, the percentage fell to 5% by 2011–2012.

Finally, there is the question of what type of functions are managed by a business school. While one focus of any successful school is to provide the best education possible for their students, providing various types of functions to help students and faculty meet their goals also is an important functional focus. An increasing majority of the schools in this comparison group manage their own academic and career advising at the undergraduate and graduate level. For all of the categories listed, there has been a trend for schools to offer more types of services, such as student advising. The largest increase was in the number of schools offering graduate-level career services, with a change from 37% in 2007–2008 to 47% in 2011–2012 .