MBA applications decline in US B-schools; rise in Asia-Pacific, Canada and Europe

The Application Trends Survey Report 2017 is a product of the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a nonprofit organization of 220 leading graduate business schools from around the world, actively committed to advancing the art and science of admissions. The Council provides the solutions necessary for business schools and candidates to discover and evaluate one another to ensure that talent never goes undiscovered.

GMAC owns and administers the Graduate Management Admission Test® (GMAT®) exam, used by more than 6,500 graduate programs worldwide, as well as the NMAT by GMAC™ exam, used for entrance into graduate management programs in India. The Council is based in Reston, VA. with offices in London, New Delhi, and Hong Kong.

For close to 20 years, the GMAC Application Trends Survey Report has gathered intelligence on the current market for graduate business school applicants.

The 2018 Application Trends Survey Report examines the demand for graduate management education based on data submitted by 1,087 graduate business school programs at 363 business schools worldwide. Findings relate to applications for graduate business and management programs in the 2018-2019 academic year. By program type, survey respondents include 571 MBA programs, 482 business master’s programs, 14 post-graduate programs, and 20 doctoral programs.

As per findings, MBA colleges in the United States faced a nearly 7 percent decline, including a 1.8 percent dip in domestic application volume, and a 10.5 percent drop in international volume across all program types. However, the numbers have gone up for Asia-Pacific, Canada, and European regions, as per the annual application trends survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council.

The survey revealed the overall demand for graduate management education is stable in 2018 as compared with 2017. In the B-schools program types — including MBA, business master’s and Ph.D. programmes — most in Asia-Pacific, Canada, and Europe received more applications than last year. The growth in the Canadian and European regions is due to the increase in international applications, while domestic growth is fuelling an increase in Asia-Pacific.

Regionally, strong growth in application volume across all program types was offset by declines in the United States. The programmes in Asia-Pacific had an 8.9 percent increase, Canada at 7.7 percent growth and Europe had a 3.2 percent increase in application demand across all programme types.

Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC president and CEO said, “Non-US programs continue to thrive, highlighting the continued emergence of enhanced educational and professional opportunities outside the United States.”

He added,” low unemployment rate means young professionals have an increased opportunity cost of leaving their jobs in pursuit of an advanced degree. Combined with a disruptive American political environment and the emergence over the past decade of tremendous educational and professional opportunities abroad, one can begin to understand in part why demand in the United States has dropped from previously record-high application volumes at some schools.”

The ability to attract top international talent continues to be a critical determinant to programs’ overall application volumes. This year, 65 percent of Canadian programs and 63 percent of European programs report an increase in international applications over 2017. The majority of applications received by Canadian and European programmes this year are from international applicants.

He also added, “Access is a critical issue facing higher education,” said Bill Boulding, dean of Duke University’s Fuqua School and chairperson of the GMAC board of directors. “Economic indicators in the US are strong, but if we are to maintain such growth and productivity we need to make it possible for people from all different regions and backgrounds to study and work in the location they desire.”

Full-time, two-year MBA programs are still the most in-demand program type. Overall, MBA and business master’s programs report a similar volume of applications in 2018 compared with last year.

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