Nearly 3 in 4 (73 per cent) graduate business programs with 201 or more class seats report increased application volumes this year compared to 39 per cent of the smallest programs (50 or fewer class seats), according to a new application trends survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).
The growth among the larger US programmes is driven by a resurgence of domestic applications, offsetting declines in international applicants.
Regardless of class size, a majority of programmes in Europe, Canada, East and Southeast Asia, and India report growing volumes in 2017, while fewer than half the programmes in the United States are growing — with the exception of part-time lockstep MBA and Master in Data Analytics programmes.
“Demand for graduate business education remains strong, especially among the largest programs, which tend also to be the most well-known programmes with brand recognition,” said Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC president and CEO. “While non-US programmes are thriving, a strong economy and a disruptive political climate is likely contributing to the downward trend in application volumes among smaller US programmes this year.”
“There has been a significant growth in the number of applications for MBA programmes and this demand has been further driven by female candidates for the full time two-year programmes” said Gaurav Srivastava, Regional Director, South Asia, GMAC.
About GMAC survey:
GMAC conducted its 18th annual Application Trends Survey from early June to mid-July 2017. The survey findings are based on a record number of responses from 351 business schools and faculties located in 40 countries representing 965 graduate management programmes, including MBA, non-MBA business Master’s, and doctoral-level programmes.
Participating programmes received a combined total of 466,176 applications during the 2017 application cycle. Ninety-two per cent of all participating programmes report that the applicants this year are similarly or more academically qualified than candidates last year.
US political climate impacts international application volumes:
Recent political events in the US appear to have impacted application volumes from international candidates in 2017. Programmes in Europe and Canada are about twice as likely to report growth in international applicants compared with the US.
Across all programme types, just 32 per cent of US programmes report growing international application volumes in 2017 vs. 49 per cent in 2016. Conversely, seventy-seven per cent of Canadian programmes report increases in international applications (46 per cent in 2016), as well as 67 per cent of European programmes (65 percent in 2016). Despite the Brexit vote, about two-thirds of programmes in the United Kingdom have seen international demand grow.
Overall, the 2017 report findings show that international applicants represent 57 per cent of US application volumes, 70 per cent of Canadian volume, 89 per cent of European volume, 20 per cent of East and Southeast Asian volume, and less than one per cent of Indian volume.
Domestic candidates remain an area of strength for the larger, well known US programmes. Sixty-nine per cent of programmes with class sizes of more than 200 report growth in domestic applications, offsetting the fact that only 38 per cent of programmes similar in size report growth in international applications.
Women make gains in applicant pool:
The results of the GMAC Application Trends Survey Report 2017 show that women are increasing their representation in the graduate business school pipeline.
Today, women represent 42 per cent of the total applications received by participating survey programs, up from 37 per cent in 2013. Most programme types have experienced an increase in the representation of women in the application pipeline.
Specifically, among MBA programmes women represent 39 per cent of applications, up from 33 per cent in 2013. More MBA programmes report growth in female applicants (44 per cent) compared with business master’s (39 per cent), whereas the growth rate is similar for men 40 per cent for MBA and 39 percent for business masters.
Additional key findings:
Overall volume to the general part-time MBA programme category has been stagnant or on the decline since the Great Recession. Part-time lockstep programmes – in which students proceed through a classroom-based program as a group – have seen stronger application volumes than part-time self-paced programs, in which students set their own schedule in a flexible format.
Among US part-time MBA programmes, 54 percent of lockstep programmes report increased volume this year, compared with just 34 percent of self-paced programmes.
Most graduate business programmes expect to see employer sponsorship remain stable. About half (52 percent) of part-time, self-paced students are expected to receive employer support, as are 40 percent of executive MBA and 39 percent of part-time lock-step MBA students.
The level of experience that the applicant brings to the graduate business programme has remained relatively consistent in 2017 compared with five years ago.
For example, the majority of full-time MBA applicants have between three and 10 years of experience; the majority of executive MBA applicants have 10 or more years of experience; and most online MBA applicants have six or more years of experience.
Among business Master’s programmes, applicants tend to have less than one year of work experience; the exception is the Master in Data Analytics candidate who tends to have more experience.
The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) is a global, non-profit association of 220 leading graduate business schools.
Founded in 1953, we are actively committed to advancing the art and science of admissions by convening and representing the industry and offering best-in-class products and services for schools and students. GMAC owns and administers the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) exam, used by more than 6,500 graduate programmes worldwide.
Other GMAC assessments include the NMAT by GMAC exam, for entrance into graduate management programs in India and South Africa, and the Executive Assessment, specifically designed for Executive MBA programmes around the world.
The Council is based in the United States with offices in the United Kingdom, India, and Hong Kong.
For information on assessments, study tools and services for candidates, visit www.mba.com. For information about The Council and our market intelligence, professional development opportunities and services for graduate management education, please visit www.gmac.com
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