The Terry College’s Professional MBA Program in Atlanta has seen enrollment surge this fall.
The part-time graduate program, which is offered at the Terry Executive Education Center in Buckhead, saw a 40% increase in its enrollment of new students. Classes for the 2020 cohort started Sept. 28.
The program has averaged about 150 new students annually for the past four years. This year’s entering class rose to 213.
For many PMBA students, the slowdown caused by the pandemic gave them time to take stock of their career goals and commit to graduate education, said Argy Russell, admissions director for Terry’s Executive and Professional MBA programs.
The PMBA option allows working professionals to earn a master’s degree in 23 months, organized around a predictable class schedule and fixed academic calendar.
“We’re hearing from students that the pandemic accelerated their plans to take action on a goal that they were already thinking about,” Russell said. “They had intention to earn an MBA, but present circumstances moved it up.”
Students who traditionally traveled for work are doing more meetings and presentations virtually, which means less time in the airport, on the road or away from home. Telework is allowing professionals with long commutes to recoup one or two hours a day.
“They’ve found themselves with this time they didn’t have before,” Russell said. “And having this extra time made it possible.”
A desire to add new job skills is always a motivation.
“Industries are changing, and employers are changing,” Russell said. “Candidates are being asked by employers to do more or do something different, and they want the skill sets to be effective now and competitive in the future.”
Rich Daniels, director of Terry’s Executive and Professional MBA programs, said it’s not uncommon for MBA programs to grow in popularity when people feel uncertainty in the workplace.
“Certainly, the pandemic has increased interest,” Daniels said. “The direction enrollment is moving is no surprise, but the size of the increase is.”
Russell also noted the Terry PMBA welcomed its most diverse class in the program’s history. Women made up 42% of the entering class, 40% are people of color, and 12% percent are Latinx.
“One of the reasons students come to this program is to be exposed to a diversity of perspectives and viewpoints, not just from those outside their companies but from different backgrounds,” Russell said. “Atlanta is such a diverse city in terms of industries, companies and people, and this program reflects that.”