Third consecutive year for MBA application growth according to 2014 GMAC survey

Full Time MBA Programs Reporting Change in Application 2010 - 2014. Source: GMAC Application Trends Surveys, 2010 - 2014.
Full Time MBA Programs Reporting Change in Application 2010 – 2014. Source: GMAC Application Trends Surveys, 2010 – 2014.


For a third straight year, applications to full-time two-year MBA programs showed marked growth, according to the 2014 Application Trends Survey, released by the Graduate Management Admission Council. By comparison, the survey reported a flattening or decrease in applications to other graduate management program types.

The survey also highlighted trends observed in GMAT testing that show a growing number of students seeking to study outside their country of citizenship. These candidates make up a significant portion of the talent pool for many MBA and non-MBA master’s programs and are driving changes in year-on-year application volume globally.

The increasingly global talent pool has been emerging for more than a decade, and has shaped the development of management education – both in where it is growing, as well as the in the mix of programs types offered to meet the needs of global students.

“Viewed in tandem, there is good news for both students and schools in this survey, as well as in our recent Corporate Recruiters Survey [released in May 2014], where 4 out of 5 companies said they planned to hire MBA graduates in 2014,” said Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC president and CEO.

“For schools, the rise over the last three years in two-year applications is welcome. This echoes other research that tells us how highly students value their two-year MBA degrees for the personal, professional and financial advantages it conveys. For students, GMAC’s Corporate Recruiters Survey may very well signal a change in hiring from a cost-driven, recession-driven organisational focus, to a growth-driven focus utilising the skills that MBA programs are designed to develop,” Chowfla continued.

The 2014 Applications Trend Survey found that 61 percent of global full-time two-year MBA programs participating in the survey reported application growth — up from 50 percent of programs in 2013.

Among other findings of the 2014 survey are:

  • The percentage of professional MBA programs (part-time, flexible, online, and executive MBA) reporting increased application volume was higher this year than in 2013, however, the majority of programs is not yet experiencing growth.
  • Results for 2014 are mixed for the specialised business master’s (non-MBA) programs. Growth in application volume is seen among Master in Marketing and Communications, Master in Information Technology, Master in Management, and Master of Accounting programs. Master of Finance programs are experiencing declining volume for the third year in a row.
  • In the United States, 65 percent of full-time two-year MBA programs report receiving more applications from foreign candidates, while demand also continues to improve among domestic candidates (up for 48% of programs in 2014 compared with 22% in 2012).
  • The following programs reported a majority of foreign candidates in their applicant pools:
    • Master of Finance (82% of applicants)
    • Master in Management (73%)
    • Master in Marketing and Communications (69%)
    • Full-time one-year MBA (56%)
    • Full-time two-year MBA (52%)
  • Citizens of countries in East and Southeast Asia and Central and South Asia make up the majority of foreign candidates applying to programs in Asia-Pacific, Canada, India, and the United States.
  • Programs located in Europe received their largest share of foreign candidates from East and Southeast Asia and from other European countries.

Ben Ready
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 (