Women flock to full-time UNH MBA program

For the first in its history, women enrolled in the full-time MBA program at the University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore School of Business and Economics outnumber men — a change that’s so significant officials say it’s a reverse of the national trend in MBA enrollments.

Some 61 percent of the full-time MBA students at UNH this fall are women – a dramatic increase over 2004, when 29 percent of full-time MBA students were women. The latter statistic is more consistent with national trends, which show that women make up between 30 and 35 percent of MBA students in all programs (part-time, full-time and executive).

When it comes to all MBA students, not just full-timers, UNH is breaking new ground again. Some 46 percent of the students in all MBA programs at UNH are women; in 2004, some 29 percent of all MBA students at UNH were women.

The change is a direct result of women outnumbering men by 2-to-1 in the full-time program, said Barry Shore, professor of decision sciences and academic director of the MBA program.

“Last spring, the Whittemore School restructured its full-time MBA program from what had been a two-year program to a rigorous one-year program,” said Shore. “When we started recruiting students, we sought out graduating seniors or recent graduates with outstanding academic records – high-potential students who we thought would be successful in this new, accelerated program. The majority of these students were honors students, and it turns out, honors programs traditionally attract more women than men.”

According to Lisa MacFarlane, director of the UNH Honors Program, students admitted to her program typically rank in the top 10 percent of their high school class with combined SAT scores of 1300 or higher and will have excelled in all areas of their secondary school’s most challenging academic curriculum.

More than 1,100 students currently participate in the UNH Honors Program, which has a 2-to-1 ratio of female (66.5 percent) to male (33.5 percent) students.

“The University Honors Program challenges students to set high goals for themselves and many do exactly that. Our students win prestigious international awards like Fulbright scholarships. They enter challenging positions upon graduation, such as working as a National Institute of Mental Health researcher, an Air Force intelligence officer, or an English teacher in Japan. And many of our students pursue graduate degrees in high-powered programs like this one,” MacFarlane said.

She added that because the accelerated MBA requires just one more year of full-time coursework, “it was very appealing to many of our students who followed their intellectual passions as undergraduates and now want to wrap an MBA around that degree. That combination appeals to the business community.”

The new one-year full-time MBA program, which is open to all students with a bachelor’s degree, began in August 2005 and concludes in June 2006.

The one-year MBA minimizes career interruptions and reduces tuition expenses, while retaining a strong educational value, said Shore. It consists of 10 core courses, including economics, accounting, finance, marketing, information systems, quantitative decision making, operations and supply chain management, organizational behavior, organizational design and leadership and business strategy. Students also choose a business concentration from the following areas: financial management, entrepreneurial venture creation, marketing and supply chain management and general management.

“This is much more intensive than a two-year MBA program. Students will have little time for anything else, but they will earn their degree in a short time, saving more than a year when compared to most other programs,” said Shore.

For several of this year’s full-time MBA students, a graduate business degree isn’t the final one they will earn. Four plan to go to law school and three to medical school following graduation in June 2006. Most have undergraduate degrees in the liberal arts.

“We are meeting the needs of students who have achieved exceptional academic success following the traditional undergraduate path for four years, and who now would like to spend one more year in school adding an MBA to their resumes, and thus, opening up more career choices,” said Shore.

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