What Skills Do MBA Students Want To Learn?

MBA students are overwhelmingly learning the skills they want, with a new survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) showing four out of five students are being prepared with the skills they want to develop.

GMAC’s 2023 Enrolled Students Survey received responses from over 660 participants, either currently or recently enrolled in graduate management education (GME), representing 192 business schools from 36 different countries. On average, survey participants had 5 years of work experience, with about 85% pursuing MBA degrees.

The report found that most GME students wanted to learn interpersonal skills, with 53% of students considering it the most important attribute to pick up during their business education. 50% of students rated communication skills as desirable to learn, while 48% cited learning, motivation, and leadership.

When it came to the question of how well business schools prepared them for the skills they want, the survey showed most were “adequately” or “well” prepared.

MBA students were most interested in learning interpersonal skills (54%), decision-making (50%) and communication and learning motivation, and leadership (both 49%).

The report also found:

Most students or recent graduates highly value their graduate management degree and experience but expect more from career services, especially international students

  • Worldwide, 90% of respondents rated the overall value of graduate business degree “Good, Excellent, or Outstanding”
  • Faculty ranked the highest among all program aspects that respondents rated based on their experience at business school
  • 72% of international students/graduates rated career services “Good, Excellent, or Outstanding”, compared with 90% among domestic counterparts

Students think business schools prepare them well on top skills important for business talent, such as interpersonal, communication, and leadership skills, but identify room for improvement in training on data analysis and interpretation

  • About half respondents consider interpersonal, communication, and learning & leadership skills important for current business school graduates
  • MBA students are also interested in sharpening decision-making skills, while business master students have a special interest in developing data analysis and interpretation skills
  • Business skill preparation sentiments vary by world region, with students from multiple world regions asking for more training on data analysis and interpretation

On average, students received one offer after applying to more than 5 positions, with greater challenge to secure employment for female and international students than for male and domestic students

  • Online job search and applying directly to companies of interest are the two most used job search methods, with less than 30% of respondents using schools’ career services
  • Internships or prior work projects are the most successful job search method but used by only about a quarter of students
  • Median total compensation increased by one-third after graduate business training, with greater increases for full-time MBA students than for professional MBA students

Graduate business education helps students achieve their personal, professional, and financial goals.

  • More than half of the students reported graduate business education helped them switch industry or job function, gain a promotion, enriched their life, and developed their potential
  • GME helped over 40% of respondents increase job levels, 40% of female students change job function, and about half of international students change industry

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 (rgcmm.com.au).