The world is full of data that people use to measure the economy's health.
One of those indicators could be wearing a mortarboard and walking in a commencement ceremony this month. It's the number of people earning a master's degree in business administration.
Applications to programs that offer MBA degrees tend to run countercyclical to the economy, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council.
Brian Lohr, director of MBA admissions at Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, said between 1,000 and 1,200 people apply annually for the university's one-year and two-year MBA programs. The one-year program accepts about 60 students each year, and the two-year program accepts about 130.
"We've really kept it to be a relatively small community," Lohr said. "We want to create a tremendous sense of community and a great bond within that cohort."
GMAC's Briggs said another trend in business education is that schools are offering more types of graduate programs, and that's certainly happening at Notre Dame.
Notre Dame is offering a new master's of science degree in business this year.
"That program is designed for undergraduates who have majored in areas other than business," Lohr said. "They're typically liberal arts majors, and we will utilize their undergraduate experience, and the way they think and analyze problems, and couple that with the language of business."
Lohr said 80 people applied for the M.S. program this year, and about 30 will start the program in a few weeks. Enrollment in that program eventually will rise to about 60 students, he said.
Notre Dame also recently completed a new building, the Stayer Center for Executive Education, to house the university's executive MBA program.
The executive MBA is designed for people with more extensive careers, which typically means someone in his or her late 30s with five or six years of managerial experience. The program meets for a long weekend, Thursday through Saturday, once a month for 21 months.
Suzanne Waller, the university's director of degree programs in executive education, said each executive MBA class consists of about 60 to 65 students.
Waller said nearly two-thirds of those students come from Indiana, Michigan, Illinois or Ohio.
"We have students commuting from both coasts and certainly from places that have direct flights into South Bend -- Minneapolis, Atlanta, Denver," she said. "And we'll be increasing our national presence in the coming years."