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Shifting Business Education in Hawaii, MBA Enrollment Declines


MBA programs are on the rise across the country—but not in Hawaii. However, some of the changes that are taking place with business education are also happening here. 

Over the past decade, total college enrollment has increased by 6%, but enrollment in MBA programs has seen a 46% increase. 

There are more than 1,150 institutions offering graduate business programs today, according to research by American City Business Journals, looking at the most recent data available from the U.S. Department of Education.

The biggest enrollment growth has been experienced by for-profit and public institutions offering part-time and online programs.

In Hawaii, MBA enrollment has gone the other direction. One reason for the decline is that Hawaii’s programs had drawn a strong international student population in the past.

For example, international students once made up 30% of Hawaii Pacific University’s enrollment, now they comprise 5%. But like their Mainland counterparts, Hawaii MBA programs had already been changing to accommodate the non-traditional students now seeking MBAs, who more often are working adults looking for online and evening classes. 

Marc Endrigat, director of MBA admissions the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Shidler College of Business, says the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated that program’s move to online education.

HPU and Chaminade University have both also sought to extend their MBA’s programs to Hawaii’s military bases to boost enrollment. But to some extent, the decline in MBA enrollment doesn’t necessarily mean fewer students, it is also due to degree proliferation. 

In addition to the traditional master’s in business administration degree, business schools now offer a range of master’s degrees in specialties from marketing to finance to cybersecurity. UH, HPU and Chaminade University all offer such alternatives.

A. Kam Napier is the editor-in-chief of Pacific Business News.
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