Application Trends 2016: Regional Spotlight on Africa

More than half of responding African MBA programs received more applications in 2016 than they did in 2015.

Sep 20, 2016

Application Trends

Africa stock photo A record total of 872 graduate business school programs at 336 universities around the world participated in the 2016 Application Trends Survey. This regional spotlight provides a close examination of data submitted by 13 MBA programs located at eight universities across Africa, including the countries of Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa. The sample consists of survey responses from five full-time MBA programs (one two-year MBA and four one-year MBA) and eight professional MBA programs (six part-time MBAs and two executive MBAs). 

Note: Due to the small number of programs responding, findings should be interpreted with caution. 

Application Volume Trends 

Overall, more than half of responding African MBA programs (54%) report receiving more applications in 2016 than they did in 2015. Thirty-nine percent of programs report receiving fewer applications this year compared with last year, and eight percent indicate there was no change in their application volume. 

The 13 responding programs received a median of 77 applications each. With a median estimated class size of 42, this calculates to a median of 1.6 applications per seat. The estimated acceptance rate—the number of acceptance offers divided by the number of total completed applications—is 50 percent. The estimated enrollment rate—the number of accepted applicants who enroll divided by the number of all accepted applicants—is 81 percent. 

Applicant Profile 

For the incoming 2016–2017 class, the vast majority of applications to African MBA programs are from domestic candidates. Overall, 83 percent of applicants are citizens of the country in which the program is located (domestic) and 17 percent are international candidates (from outside the country). These international applicants most often are citizens of other African countries. Respondents indicate the greatest number of African international candidates come from Zimbabwe and Nigeria. Smaller numbers of international candidates come from the Middle East, Western Europe, and the United States.  

Nine in 10 applicants to African MBA programs have three or more years of work experience, on average. The amount of work experience differs notably, however, between applicants to full-time MBA programs and those applying to professional MBA programs. Though 20 percent of applicants to full-time MBA programs have less than three years’ prior work experience, the same is true of just five percent of professional MBA applicants. In sharp contrast, 72 percent of applicants to professional MBA programs have six or more years’ of work experience compared with just 39 percent of full-time MBA applicants. 

Overall, 57 percent of applicants to responding African MBA programs are male and 43 percent are female. The participation rate for African women is closer to parity than the global average for MBA programs (63 percent male and 37 percent female). This year’s data indicate that African MBA programs may continue to outpace the global average in female representation. The majority of reporting African MBA programs (54%) received more applications from women in 2016 than they did last year. Fewer programs (46%) saw year-on-year application volume growth from men. 

Africa snapshot

Recruitment and Outreach 

To ensure a diverse and high-quality pool of students for their incoming class, MBA programs around the world conduct special outreach and recruitment of targeted populations. Among the sample of reporting African MBA programs, the vast majority indicate they perform specialized outreach to international candidates (92% of programs) and working professionals (85%). Others also conduct targeted outreach to pre-experience candidates (46%), undergraduates of no particular major (31%), and women (31%). 

For more information on international application volume trends in graduate management education, as well as data related to targeted candidate outreach, tuition assistance, and employer funding, download the 2016 Application Trends Survey Report, available now at For more regional analyses, read Application Trends 2016: Regional Spotlight on Canada and Application Trends 2016: Regional Spotlight on India.