The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced Friday that it plans to shut down its residential M.B.A. programs -- full-time and part-time -- to focus on its online M.B.A., which it calls the iMBA.
The move still requires formal university approval, but the announcement is a sign of the shift going on in business education -- in many cases away from traditional M.B.A. programs. Several universities have scaled back or eliminated such programs and focused instead on online or one-year master's programs in business-related fields.
Applications to the iMBA program have tripled from 1,100 when the program started in 2016. The total cost for the iMBA is $22,000. The Illinois announcement noted that a traditional M.B.A. "can easily cost $80,000" -- and the figures are much higher at private institutions.
“The iMBA is the right format for the times -- providing a powerful learning experience with anytime/anywhere accessibility at an affordable cost,” said a statement from Jeffrey Brown, dean of the Gies College of Business at Illinois. “Given the global reach and accessibility of this program, we are creating what I call the world’s M.B.A. With this and with our innovation in undergrad, specialized master's and lifelong learning, we are playing to our competitive advantages and positioning ourselves for tremendous impact and steady growth. These moves will focus our investment in ways that will make us unquestionably one of a handful of the world’s very best and most innovative business schools.”
Illinois will allow current M.B.A. students and those planning to start programs this year to finish. But the university has also extended the deadline for refunds on deposits for the residential program and will allow admitted students to shift automatically to the iMBA.
Here is an article from Inside Higher Ed in 2016 on the launch and growth of the iMBA.