The Global Demand for Graduate Management Education: Application Trends Survey 2021

November 2021


GMAC’s annual Application Trends Survey gathers intelligence on the current market for graduate management education applicants. The 2021 survey collected applications data from nearly 1,000 graduate management programs around the world. The report offers timely insights on application volume trends by program type and world region; applicant pool composition by gender, citizenship, and work experience; and expected changes in enrollment rates, acceptance rates, and program size.

You can access related blog, webinar and infographic on the Application Trends Survey main page

Quick Facts

  • The 2021 application cycle is set in the context of this dramatic growth in applications in the preceding year. In 2021, the volume of applications for GME programs was flat (0.4%) compared to 2020. However, given the unusually high-volume growth in 2020, “flat” numbers of 2020 are still higher than 2019.
  • Two in five (41%) graduate business programs received more applications in 2021 compared with 2020. This was a continuation of growth momentum for select programs from 2020, when two in three programs reported growth in applications.
  • Large graduate business programs (101 or more students) are more likely than small programs (100 or less students) to report application volume growth this year. Forty-six percent of large programs received more applications this year as compared to 40 percent of small programs.
  • In 2021, 60 percent of full-time two-year MBA programs report an increase in applications from female candidates compared to 43 percent of programs indicating growth from male candidates. Likewise, more full-time two-year MBA programs report growth in applications from international (57%) than domestic candidates (42%).
  • The share of full-time two-year MBA programs showing growth in applications from international candidates has doubled from 28 percent in 2019 to 57 percent in 2021.
  • Nearly half (49%) of master in management (MiM) programs continued their growth momentum in 2021. The share of programs reporting growth in application volume doubled from 42 percent in 2019 to 80 percent in 2020. However, there are variations by domestic and international candidates. Only 29 percent of MiM programs reported growth in applications from domestic candidates compared to 51 percent of programs reporting an increase in applications from international candidates.
  • US Underrepresented Minorities (URMs): More full-time two-year MBA programs reported growth in URM applications in 2021 (56%) compared to pre-pandemic 2019 (37%). The share of full-time two-year MBA programs reporting growth in applications from female URM candidates increased by 22 percentage points between 2019 (38%) to 2021 (60%). Share of part-time programs reporting growth hit a five-year low in 2021.