Today’s Business School Candidates Have a Clearer Vision for Their Postgraduate Careers

New survey data reveals that an increasing share of prospective students are focused on a particular career path.

May 10, 2016

Prospective Students

Man entering business with briefcase More graduate business school candidates are considering just one industry and one job function for their postgraduate careers than in the past, according to the 2016 Prospective Students Survey.

As recent as 2012, a majority of prospective students were open to pursuing a position in two or more industries. Among the more than 10,000 candidates surveyed in 2015, however, more than 7 in 10 (71%) cited just a single industry of interest. Likewise, prospects are more singularly focused on pursuing one particular job function in 2015 (61%) compared with 2012, when a minority of prospective students (42%) had such well-defined career goals. 

Candidates considering one industry and one job function for postgraduate employment

The economy may play a role in this phenomenon, as prospective students may perceive it to be easier to go after their “dream job” in a more favorable job market. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that the unemployment rate for people age 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher was 4.3 percent in January 2012, 2.8 percent in January 2015, and 2.5 percent in December 2015. 

Overall, the top industries prospective students target for future employment are similar to previous years’ findings. These industries are consulting (considered by 32% of candidates), finance and accounting (31%), and products and services (25%). 

Survey results on the top job functions considered by prospective students, however, differ from the previous year. Among 2015 survey respondents, the top three job functions were marketing and sales (30%), finance and accounting (28%), and consulting (26%). In 2014, the most frequently preferred job functions were consulting (38%), finance and accounting (37%), and operations and logistics (35%). 

For more information on prospective business school students’ career goals, preferred program types and destinations, program selection criteria, and more, download the 2016 Prospective Students Survey Report.