Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Larry Ebbers


The marketing of higher education began in earnest during the early 1970s and was given an especially prominent role in the late 1970s and early 1980s when colleges and universities witnessed large declines in applicant pools (Mahoney, 2006). Since that time, the marketing of higher education has continued to be a vital factor in the livelihood of colleges and universities. When colleges and universities are focusing on such strategic plans as increasing the strength, size, and diversity of incoming classes, marketing is an imperative component to the success of the strategic goals.

Since 2009, Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs across the United States have seen application numbers diminish at alarming rates. In 2012, MBA programs experienced a 22% decline in the median of full-time applications (GMAC, 2012). Moreover, 71% of MBA programs in the Midwest experienced a decline in applications. Because of this decline, competition for qualified prospective MBA students is at a high level (GMAC, 2012).

In this study, the researcher used the five-level model of relationship marketing to examine how relationship marketing is used on MBA program websites, applied the combination of the marketing mix and relationship marketing theories to identify marketing factors (the 5Ps of marketing: price, product, place, promotion, and people), analyzed relationships between the 5Ps of marketing, and identified factors that influence application levels and matriculation yield. The study randomly sampled 120 AACSB-accredited MBA programs from across the United States. Data for the traditional marketing mix factors (price, product, place, and promotion) and the dependent variables (application levels and matriculation yield) were obtained through various MBA program publications and MBA program websites. The relationship marketing variable (people) data were obtained through the results of the five-level model website content analysis.

Descriptive statistics were used to examine institutional and MBA program-specific background characteristics. A Pearson correlation was conducted to explore the strength and direction of relationships between the five independent variables, and a multiple regression was performed to determine predictors of application levels and matriculation yield.

The results revealed that most MBA programs do not utilize website relationship marketing to its full potential. Faculty relationship marketing ranked the highest, with admission professionals and current students being used sparingly and alumni being used the least. The regression analysis found that the product variable is the strongest predictor of application levels and that price, product, place, and people are the strongest predictors of matriculation yield.


Copyright Owner

Michael Carl Norris



File Format


File Size

119 pages