Demand for MBA and Business Master's Programs: Insights on Candidate Decision Making 2021 Prospective Students Survey

This report—the first in a series of topical reports based on the results of the Prospective Students Survey 2021—presents the findings associated with prospective students' preferences for program types, structures, and curriculums.

May 2021


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 in GME, as overall 4 in 5 candidates are considering an MBA program type (81%). 
  • Reputation/ranking is the most common selection as most important (e.g., rankings, accreditation, faculty, 27%), followed by career aspects (e.g., job placement, career services quality, 23%) and financial aspects (e.g., total costs, availability of scholarships, 13%).
  • 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.
  • Employment is the most widely pondered alternative, whether it be candidates thinking about pursuing a new job (45% of candidates) or continuing in the same job (35%).