Master’s in 2019: A Year in Review

If I had to pick a word for master’s programs at GMAC in 2019, it would be CONNECTION.  Over the past year, we’ve taken some great strides towards building the community of master’s programs and embarked on our first forays into helping candidates find and connect with their right master’s program.

In 2018, we introduced the master’s stream to Annual Conference and in 2019, the events team took it further.  Not only were there many more sessions that addressed the needs of master’s programs directly, changes to the app made it much easier to identify them.  It was also fantastic to see how many of you signalled your interest in master’s programs by wanting to join us at the master’s breakfast.  Thank you.  If you would like to see even more master’s-specific content in 2020 (Baltimore, 17-19 June) and have ideas on specific topics or themes, please submit your session proposal(s) before the deadline of 13 January.  

In just a few days, we’ll be holding our first Master’s Leadership Symposium, an event having its foundation in the two prior Master’s Symposia.  Designed to meet the needs of those in leadership roles, the ten wide-ranging sessions will present diverse perspectives, facilitate the sharing of experiences and approaches, and give attendees actionable insights around issues of relevance to business master’s programs.  If I’ve whetted your appetite, the agenda describes each session in greater detail.  For those of you unable to join us in San Francisco, next year’s event will take place in the Asia-Pacific region in the later part of the year.

Outside of specific events, the business master’s group on LinkedIn is growing – if you’re not a member, please join us!  The group is a useful way to connect with peers and gain insight into what’s going on in master’s programs around the world.  Insights can also be gained through the growing library of country vignettes that aim to give you insight into how GME differs around the world and the implications that might have when working with, or recruiting from, different countries.  While we started with Europe – France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom – Australia will be published in early 2020 and more are in the works.

I’ve seen community come to the fore in a slightly different way this year through the Application Trends survey: thank you to everyone who took part.  It’s a testament to the significant role that business master’s degrees play that out of 1,145 programs that responded to the 2019 survey, 48% were business master’s programs.  Wow.  Looking back over the past three surveys, participation by master’s programs has grown by 49%, from 369 (2017) to 549 (2019).  During that period, the number of responses from finance and marketing programs doubled, and from analytics and management programs, responses nearly trebled.  I interpret these growing numbers to reflect industry-wide trends in how business school portfolios are evolving, and the types of programs that resonate among candidates and employers.  It’s an exciting time to be in the master’s space.

And the excitement isn’t just limited to you.  In 2019 we started exploring how we can work with the candidates for your business master’s programs.  Master’s Week (8-12 April) saw us partner with 15 global business schools to explore five different types of business master’s program over five days.  Over 3,000 candidates registered for the webinars, the focus of which was what you can do with a master’s degree.  The emphasis on careers is something which is strong irrespective of what type of graduate program is entered and we will have a new tool in 2020 that will tangibly demonstrate the connection between education and employment.

Lastly, I’d like to mention the undergraduate survey, findings from which will be shared at both the Master’s Leadership Symposium and the Leadership Conference.  The survey was developed to help all of us gain insight into what undergraduates want to do after graduation; explore their attitudes towards, and expectations of, further study; and identify influencers and resources of importance to decision making.  If you want to benchmark your undergraduates against more than 2,000 from around the world, get in touch.  Note that if you can’t come to either event, I’ll be sharing findings more widely in the new year.

And as the year draws to a close and I look forward to 2020, I’m reminded of something attributed to Henry Ford: that "coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success".  I very much look forward to working more closely with you in 2020 to create our mutual success.

Best regards,

Rebecca Loades

Rebecca Loades, Director, Master’s Programs