Applications to Executive MBA programmes - MBAs for working managers - have increased in the past year in spite of the recession, according to a survey of its members by the US-based Executive MBA Council. Class sizes have remained relatively stable, according to the 309 participating programmes.

Although full-time MBAs have traditionally been seen as anti-cyclical - that is, applications go up in a recession - EMBAs have been more closely linked in the past with executive short courses, as there is often corporate sponsorship for students. EMBA applications have traditionally decreased when money is tight.

The increase in applications suggests that more managers are sponsoring themselves and that they view the degree as an investment in the future career. According to the Embac survey, 30 per cent of all EMBA students received full reimbursement this year and a further 35 per cent received partial reimbursement. Thirty-seven per cent were self-sponsored, compared to 35 percent in 2008. Sponsorship rates are higher in the US than elsewhere.

“Interest in the Executive MBA continues to remain high,” says George Bobinski, associate dean of the School of Management at Binghamton University and member of Embac’s research centre. “Programmes also are maintaining quality in their admission standards. During this challenging economic time, it’s clear that students are seeing the value of the Executive MBA.”

The number of applications to EMBA programmes on average rose from 83.8 in 2008 to 92.6 in 2009, while the acceptance rate remained the same – 63 percent in both 2008 and 2009. Programme size grew from an average of 92 students in 2008 to 96 students in 2009.

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