Recent trends in post-grad business education options

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Over the years, education has evolved… slowly. There are more disciplines to study, but the same reading, writing and testing cycle remains. I often question this beloved method of education because it seems to test only one type of learning and doesn’t cater to everyone’s needs.

That cycle seems to finally be breaking a little, especially the way business programs are being taught. After undergrad in particular, programs seem to be focusing more on the applicability of knowledge through case studies, major projects and team-based learning activities. Of course there still is the reading, writing and testing process, but it’s just one method of learning in these programs.

Within the past decade, these post-graduate diploma programs have been appearing at colleges and some universities nationwide. In particular, Ontario colleges have seen this as a tremendous opportunity and now offer a wide variety of programs.

College is no longer the “less than” option

The stigma of college has been replaced by the idea that college provides recent university grads with opportunities. Enrolment is skyrocketing and college is becoming a good option for recent grads or those looking for a career change.

The opportunities to study at the post-graduate diploma level are seemingly endless and there are new programs being added each year. The courses range from finance to culinary management, and everything in between. If you’re interested in marketing for example, you can study marketing, but also get into the specifics: fashion marketing, international marketing, sports marketing, securities marketing, the list goes on.

Post-graduate programs are very specific, allowing students to really get into their niche. Students studying to obtain a post-graduate diploma are on a very specific path, obtaining knowledge directly related to the field in which they are seeking employment.

MBAs: tried and true, but a little bit slower

Meanwhile, MBAs are not evolving as quickly as post-graduate diplomas.

MBAs have been around for over 50 years and upgraded with occasional tweaks, such as the addition of co-ops at some schools and the preference for case-based learning.

Theory-based learning is considered a dated way to teach an MBA, so many programs have recently been refocused to become more “real.”

Preparing for the GMAT, or GRE? With part-time options, shorter program lengths and executive options, MBAs are becoming more accessible to those who previously couldn’t afford to spend the time or money. MBAs attract recent graduates but are meant to appeal to those with work experience who want to upgrade their skills and move their careers forward.

MBAs require students to have a more general knowledge across the entire business spectrum, with the intention of setting students up for employment at the management level. Most MBAs allow specialization, with options such as marketing, finance and HR, but not as specific as post-graduate diplomas.

The trend report is in: people are going back to school

People are going back to school more than ever. Some employers see an undergraduate degree more as a check mark on the application, something that is assumed. The idea that ‘everyone’ has an undergrad and you need something more to give you an edge is increasingly prevalent. Recent graduates and those looking at career changes or upgrades are turning to education to help them.

Post-graduate diplomas are definitely ‘in,’ with programs popping up everywhere offering what many inexperienced grads are looking for: practical specialization. The MBA is nothing new, but offers a more general application business knowledge via tried and true methods of teaching, with slight modifications to their programs throughout the years.

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About the author

Alison Backman is a student at Ryerson University's Global MBA program, with an interest in international business and marketing. She holds a BA in psychology and sociology from Acadia University. After completing university, she worked with the YMCA at a not-for-profit children's camp and travelled Central America. This past year, she completed a marketing post-graduate program at Humber College.