Demand for MBA and Business Master's Programs: Insights on Candidate Decision Making 2020 Prospective Students Survey

This report—the first in a series of topical reports based on the results of the Prospective Students Survey 2020—presents the findings associated with prospective students' preferences for program types, structures, and curriculums.

May 2020


The expansion of business school program portfolios has dramatically increased prospective student choice and simultaneously intensified competition between programs to attract top talent. This report assesses prospective student demand for specific GME program types, both in terms of the program types they consider and the program types they prefer. Prospective student profiles highlight key differences among those who prefer different program types. The report also examines prospective students’ program design and study destination preferences.

Quick Facts

  • The MBA remains the predominant credential sought by prospective students. MBA program types continue to be preferred by most prospective students (60%), notwithstanding the growing interest in business master’s program types. Overall 4 in 5 candidates are considering an MBA program type (81%). Consideration of two-year MBA programs (47%) returns to levels slightly higher than one-year MBA programs (44%) in 2019 following the expected trend in the last decade of survey data.
  • Business master’s program types are experiencing growth and shifts in candidate consideration. One in five candidates are exclusively considering business master’s program types (19%). 
  • The cost of a graduate business degree and the need to take on student debt are the most likely reservations to impact prospective students’ pursuit of a GME.
  • Topping the list of most considered business master’s program types are the Master of Finance (22%) and the Master of Data Analytics (19%), the latter of which has grown its consideration
  • Prospective students’ desire to study internationally has been stable over the last five years. About 2 in 3 candidates plan to apply to a program in the United States (65%), making it the most popular destination in terms of application plans, followed by Western Europe (46%), and Canada (24%).