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Grab the Demand for ‘Part-time MBA’2015-04-20Hit:3101


“Self-improvement is a must in today’s world where nobody can tell what will happen. However, quitting my job for it is not an option. The trend is to use the weekend or the time after work,” said Mr. Kim (36) who is earning his night time MBA in a university in Korea.

The paradigm is shifting in the 10 years-old ‘Korea-customized MBA’ market. Although full-time courses were the norm until now, part-time (night and weekend) courses are rising in popularity.

Korea-customized MBA programs can be divided into two: ‘full-time’ courses in which classes are held during the week, and ‘part-time’ courses in which classes are held at night or on weekends. The full-time students are usually those who are currently unemployed whereas part-time students are usually office workers. Hence, the increasing preference for part-time implies an increase in office workers who cannot afford to study full-time.

Recently, firms have been fiercely competing against each other during the depression. Expertise is required for the employees. As individual career management is becoming increasingly important, instead of the concept of ‘lifetime workplace’, employees are investing in self-improvement. This is the origin of ‘BTSs’ (Back to School).

Before, office workers who took online courses to increase their language scores or obtain various certificates were referred as ‘Saladent’ (Salary man + Student). BTSs take a step further by dedicating two full years and money to obtain specialized knowledge plus a master’s degree. As the BTSs are increasing, part-time MBAs are naturally gaining attention.

One thing that needs to be noted is that not all BTSs insist on taking the part-time courses. It is widely believed that the quality of part-time education is lower than that of full-time. As a result, there are many BTSs who quit their jobs for full-time MBA courses.

According to a report by the Ministry of Education in December 2014, the average competition rate of full-time courses was 1.27 and that of part-time courses was 1.93. The competition rate of the Yonsei Corporate MBA (part-time) was the highest: 3.63.

Universities are following this trend, altering their MBA strategy. Those who did not open part-time MBA courses opened classes; Sungkyunkwan University and KAIST are typical examples.

Although the full-time MBA program of KAIST started in 1995 as the first in Korea, its part-time MBA program have only been operating for three years. It opened the ‘Professional MBA’ program in 2012 in which the students can choose and gain specialized knowledge in their field. Unlike other MBA courses, this course is a year longer, because classes are open only at night-time, twice a week.

Universities that are leading the trend of part-time programs are also paying sharp attention to the trend. Korea University, which opened its first part-time MBA course in 1963, is concentrating on boosting the quality of education.

The situation for the overseas MBA market is not so much different. Universities in the U.S. are also increasing the proportion of part-time programs. Due to the relative flexibility of the job market, it is easier for employees to find another job after completing the MBA courses than for employees in Korea. However, together with the global depression, part-time MBAs seem to be the general trend.

An interesting fact is that difficulties for the full-time MBA market were anticipated. Then why did the Korean universities stick to full-time MBA market? Experts provide the influence of government as the main reason. The Ministry of Education requires full-time MBA programs with 40 or more students as the approval condition for MBA classes; Universities unwillingly had to follow the rule set by the government body.

A breakthrough by Korea’s MBA universities was ‘Global MBA’. They filled in the empty spaces of full-time programs with foreign students. In fact, more than half of the students are foreigners in many of the university’s full-time courses. Although the universities have never reported that the ‘full-time course with 40 or more students’ said that it was an issue to the Ministry of Education, a change in policy seems necessary. 

Contact : Lee, Sohyun ( sohyun.c.lee@kaist.ac.kr )