The world of business has never been as fast-paced as it is today. Improvements in travel and technology have created a global business landscape that often shifts and changes overnight. Top M.B.A. programs are doing their best to keep up with these changes—or even get a step ahead. As these changes occur, you’ll see the increasing importance of corporate partnerships and an increased emphasis on you, the student.

Strategic Alliances

To better leverage their resources, business schools are joining forces to teach students and to conduct postgraduate training for corporate executives. New York University, for example, develops executive Corporate Degree Programs whose curricula are customized to companies’ employees. Corporate advisory boards, long a staple of most graduate-level business programs, are increasingly relied on to provide advice on M.B.A. courses and curricula, as well as hiring opportunities.

Corporate partners also contribute other sorely needed resources. Consider Purdue, which has one of the most extensive computing labs of any business school, thanks to the generosity of such high-tech partners as AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, and PictureTel. “The business environment is moving fast, and even elite schools don’t have all the money they need to access new markets, technology, and faculty expertise,” says Charles Hickman, former director of projects and services at AACSB International, which accredits M.B.A. programs in the United States.

Customer Focus

It’s not uncommon to hear business school professors routinely refer to students and companies as customers—and to treat their needs with the same respect. Many schools are applying the very business principles taught in those institutions to operating the schools themselves. They’re becoming more customer-focused, reducing the cycle time for admissions processing and curriculum development, and becoming more efficient in lowering tuition or in keeping it from rising quickly. Seattle University, for example, brings classes closer to customers by holding identical evening courses on campuses on both sides of the river that cuts through the city, making it easier for employees at Seattle’s biggest companies to reach their M.B.A. courses.

With such evolution occurring day by day at business schools, more than ever before, today’s M.B.A. program aims to prepare you for the real world of work, where you will work in teams, take a global view, and analyze problems from a multitude of perspectives. To accomplish these goals, top M.B.A. programs intend to equip you with the ability to embrace change, accept ambiguity, and lead others with the vision and confidence gained from continuous learning. And many of these goals can be accomplished through a well planned and delivered online M.B.A. program.

With a newly minted M.B.A. degree, you are better qualified to enter new fields, better able to leverage your prior work experience, and more likely to sustain higher earnings over the course of your career. Equally important, you’ll have the opportunity to make a significant difference on as broad a scale as you wish. With finely honed analytical skills, the ability to work well with people, and the desire to keep learning, today’s M.B.A. graduates can succeed in a broad range of general management positions and add more value than ever before.