MBA applications on the rise

130924 gmac application trends 2013More full-time MBA programs worldwide saw increases than decreases in the number of applications they received this year compared with last year, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council.

GMAC’s 2013 Application Trends Survey provides program-level data on the demand for business school worldwide as compared with the year before.

Half of the two-year MBA programs received more applications in 2013 than last year, with an additional 4 percent reporting having received as many applications as in 2012. Similar trends were seen among one-year programs, in which 49 percent reported increased applications and 4 percent received the same volume as 2012. Last year’s survey reported that among full-time MBA programs, 43 percent of two-year and 47 percent of one-year programs reported receiving more applications in 2012 compared with 2011.

“In 2008 and 2009, early in the Global Financial Crisis, there was impressive growth in the proportion of full-time MBA programs showing application increases,” said Lawrence Rudner, GMAC vice president, research and development.

“In 2010 and 2011, there was a subsequent decline, but full-time programs began to rebound in 2012 and look even sturdier today.”

The annual survey is conducted each year by GMAC, which administers the GMAT exam for use in admissions to graduate management programs worldwide.

This year’s Application Trends Survey included 683 graduate-level programs in business and management at 328 business schools in 42 different countries. Results are available for a wide variety of graduate business and management programs, including part-time, online, and executive MBA programs as well as specialized master’s degrees in business fields such as finance and accounting.

Key trends from the newest survey results reflect a dynamic global marketplace:

  • Among full-time MBA programs in the Asia-Pacific region, more one-year programs reported application increases. This represents slowed growth as compared with last year’s survey.
  • Although specialized master’s degrees in business fields such as accounting and finance have shown year-to-year application gains for the past five years, this year’s data suggests a shift in applicant’s preference from the masters in accounting and finance programs towards masters in management.
  • Full-time, two-year MBA programs in the US show an upswing, as 52 percent of programs report application increases over 2012 — the first time since 2009 that a majority of US full-time MBA programs reported year-to-year growth. Many of the application gains come from international students: 56 percent of the programs had more international applicants this year than last, and 59 percent reported fewer domestic applicants this year than last.
  • In Europe, Master in Management programs continue to show strength, as 73 percent of programs report application increases from 2012. Meanwhile, 38 percent of Europe’s full-time one-year MBA programs showed application gains this year, comparable to the 37 percent in last year’s survey that noted growth from the year before.

“The global popularity of the Master in Management degree is often driven by applicants aiming to pursue a business degree with limited work experience, and is sought to meet their goals to enhance workplace skills, effectiveness on the job, and gain early career promotions,” said Ashish Bhardwaj, Vice President GMAC Asia Pacific.

“Competitiveness in applying for a spot in a Masters of Finance program is also not surprising – it is the second most popular business degree among prospective students from Asia Pacific after the full-time MBA option.”

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Ben Ready founded MBA News in 2014 and is the Managing Editor. He is a former business and finance journalist with Australian Associated Press (AAP) and Dow Jones Newswires in London. Ben completed his MBA in 2012 and was awarded the QUT GMAA Entrepreneurship Prize. He is also the founder and Managing Director of RGC Media & Mktng (rgcmm.com.au).