Beyond Demographics: Connecting With the Core Motivations of Business School Candidates

October 31, 2016

The white paper, Beyond Demographics: Connecting With the Core Motivations of Business School Candidates, presents a market segmentation analysis of the global graduate management education (GME) candidate population. This analysis is based on findings of a study that GMAC commissioned in 2016, which was designed to differentiate segments of GME candidates based on what motivates them to pursue GME and what motivates them to apply to a specific business school. The outcome of the study is seven well-defined mutually exclusive global candidate segments that business schools can use to customize their marketing activities and messaging in ways that best resonate with each segment.


In today’s competitive market, business schools need new ways to connect with and attract the right mix of candidates to build talented and diverse program cohorts that are a good fit for their institution. The insights and a Segmentation Tool generated from this GMAC study give schools the ability to identify the candidate segments they currently attract to their programs by motivation, target candidate segments for greater outreach, and effectively market to individuals with motivation-based messaging that inspires them to take action. The findings can also be leveraged beyond the admissions process to inform student-centered curriculum and program design.

Quick Facts

  • The quantitative study included a sample of nearly 6,000 individuals who had applied to a graduate business school program between January 2014 and April 2016. Respondents represent citizens of 15 countries and the broader GME candidate population, not just GMAT test takers. 
  • Survey respondents responded to an online questionnaire conducted in 11 different languages.
  • The segmentation model includes seven distinct candidate segments: Respect Seekers, Global Strivers, Skill Upgraders, Career Revitalizers, Impactful Innovators, Socioeconomic Climbers, and Balanced Careerists.