An MBA degree from Kansas University may not be the golden ticket to a job that it was in the 1980s.
"A student going straight through the undergraduate program and an MBA program may not find it to be the easy ticket that it was 10 years ago," said Fred Madaus, director of placement for KU's School of Business.
Efforts to streamline U.S. businesses has increased competition for middle management jobs. Experienced managers hit with layoffs tend to squeeze out new recipients of the master of business administration, Madaus said.
Madaus said 80 percent of KU's master degree graduates in the 1992-93 academic year were employed by July 1. These master of business administration and accounting grads had a job, but not necessarily the job they anticipated when they enrolled in graduate school.
"If that drops, that could be significant," he said.
Dave Collins, associate director of KU's master degree programs in business, said KU's MBA curriculum was being adjusted to improve employment prospects of graduates.
For example, he said, a one-semester course on resume writing, interviewing, ethics and other topics was expanded this year to two semesters.
"The idea is ... to teach skills that business leaders are interested in seeing in new MBAs," Collins said.
Corporate shrinking has led prospective graduate students in business to shy away from MBA programs.
Nationally, the number of people taking the Graduate Management Admissions Test is down 20 percent and applications to MBA programs is down 6 percent.
Enrollment in the KU's MBA program on the Lawrence campus was 60 this fall semester, down from 73 a year ago. The drop occurred despite an increase in the number of students invited to enroll in the program, he said.
At KU's Regents Center in Overland Park, enrollment in part-time MBA courses climbed to 53, an increase of six.
"It's economics," he said. "Most people attending the Regents Center are employed full-time and go to class in the evening. It allows them to stay on the job, gain experience."
Although an MBA may no longer carry graduates immediately to the middle of the job ladder, it remains a valuable long-term asset.
"It will help in the long haul with promotions and advancement," Madaus said.