Denise Andrus, an at-home mom, knows she'll be ready to get back
into the workforce in a few years. So in the quiet wee hours of the
morning, in bathrobe and slippers, Ms. Andrus is staring into the
glow of her computer screen - working toward her master's in
Andrus figures an MBA will be her "get-back-into-the-workforce
card." So she snags time on the Internet to fulfill degree
requirements from Jones International University, an accredited
Brian Davis, on the other hand, heads upstairs to a conference
room every Monday after overseeing the high-tech factory floor at
data-storage giant EMC Corp. in Franklin, Mass. Waiting there is a
Northeastern University professor who treks from Boston to teach
subjects like marketing and finance.
When it comes to post-graduate education, the venerable MBA
degree is celebrating its 100th anniversary and entering the new
millennium by bursting the confines of the campus classroom,
morphing into new forms, and spreading American-style business
By every measure the MBA has been a success. Its impact has been
profound, helping professionalize and systematize American business.
This year the number of MBA graduates may approach 100,000 - about
one-quarter of all master's degrees granted, analysts estimate.
It wasn't always that way.
It's been a century since Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H.,
shunned convention by forming the Tuck School of Business. At the
time, business was a dirty word in the academy. The closest thing
to teaching business at the time was a standard course called
Even after the ice broke, growth was slow. But when World War II
ended, herds of returning GIs filled the MBA ranks. Between 1950
and 1975, about 20 to 30 new business schools were added to
Some 1,200 to 1,900 business schools (depending on how the
programs are counted) bestowed the MBA degree on more than 97,000
business graduates in 1997, experts estimate.
Recently, though, students' ardor to attend school full-time for
an MBA has cooled, in part for fear of missing an opportunity in a
fast-paced dot-com world.
Now, part-time MBA students like Mr. Davis and Andrus - as well
as foreign students in the US - are the new target audience for
universities that tout customized programs. …