Abridged business master’s programs are growing at a time when applications to full-time MBA programs are declining at many schools.

Blue-BodiesAccording to a survey by the Association to Advance Collegiate Business Schools, some 148,299 students were enrolled in a specialized business master’s programs in 2010, a whopping 50% increase over year-earlier numbers. Enrollment is expected to rise again in 2012, as 73% of last year’s GMAT test takers have indicated that they intended to concentrate on a specific area of study.

Schools are responding to the demand by dramatically increasing the number of available seats for these programs and launching new master’s in everything from management in clinical informatics at Duke to financial engineering at UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. There were 2,444 specialized master’s programs worldwide in 2010, a 21% increase from a year earlier, according to the AACSB.

At Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School this fall, its master of finance program will admit some 120 students in the program, including 80 full-time students, up from what had been merely a part-time program with just 40 people enrolled. “We might have to launch another cohort next spring just because we have limited classroom space and have had to turn people away,” says Phillip Phan, a Carey professor who had been interim dean.

The spike in interest in specialty MBAs is a direct result of the degrees’ growing acceptance by universities, applicants, and employers alike.

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Source: Paula Lehman | CNNMoney