The latest Fortune magazine cover story says it in bold type: Supply of MBAs has outstripped demand, and U.S. business schools have lost touch with reality.
The master's of business administration degree no longer guarantees the holder quick access to money and power, the magazine says in its Jan. 20 issue.
Not only is it more difficult for the latest generation of MBAs to land high-paying jobs, Forbes says corporate employers don't think MBA recipients can manage well.
The magazine says new MBA holders "lack practical skills needed to manage in the real world" and faculty haven't taught them the value of quality and leadership.
FRED MADAUS, placement director at Kansas University's School of Business, said Tuesday that the value of an MBA is a matter of perception, and the magazine offered one point of view.
"I think the high-flying, six-digit Wall Street jobs have disappeared. The wining and dining, the signing bonuses, the trips across country are gone," he said.
Madaus said the MBA remains an attractive degree for people with realistic expectations of promotion and job enhancement.
"It's another tool in your pocket," he said.
He has noticed a trend in which companies hire people with a bachelor's degree and let them gain experience before encouraging them to seek an MBA at night school.
THE FORBES article said one in four of MBAs graduating from Dartmouth last spring did so without having accepted a job offer. At Yale, one-third of MBAs didn't have jobs when they graduated.
Employment prospects for KU's MBA graduates aren't as bleak, Madaus said. KU awarded 32 MBAs in December. Of those graduates, 25 provided employment updates. Twenty-one found a job by graduation, leaving 16 percent looking, Madaus said.
"We were very pleasantly surprised," Madaus said. "I was surprised that the MBAs seemed to have fared better than the undergraduates."
Ronna Robertson, associate director of the KU school's graduate programs, said the nation's economy deserves some blame for problems of job placement.
"THERE ARE a lot of white-collar workers out there who are looking for jobs who have more experience," she said.
Robertson said she couldn't speak about qualitative aspects of other business schools, but she said KU's business school has a strategy for changing with the times.
The school conducted an internal review of MBA programs last year and is working with alumni and corporate executives on an external review this year. The school also altered the curriculum and added programs to improve basic services to MBA students, she said.
"In the last three years," Robertson said, "we've added three international management courses at the graduate level in finance, marketing and management."
IN ADDITION, she said, the school now offers computer workshops and writing centers for new MBA students.
There are about 380 MBA students at KU. Approximately 200 take night classes at KU's Regents Center in Overland Park. Part-time MBA programs are big business, Robertson said.
"People talk about a glut of MBA graduates, but not all those people are looking for jobs. We have a lot of people in a part-time program that already have jobs," she said. "The MBA is being used by people to keep their jobs."