Graduate Management Application Trends Reflect Economic Uncertainty, Rapid Globalization and Diversification

Specialized Graduate Programs Show Gains, MBA Programs Report Mixed Results; Schools Report Gains in Quality of Candidates, Growth in International Applications

RESTON, VA--(Marketwire - Sep 13, 2011) - In the face of continued economic uncertainly worldwide, application volumes to specialized master's programs in finance and management show strong gains, while the picture for MBA programs is mixed, reports the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) in its annual Application Trends Survey. About two-thirds of two-year, full-time MBA programs reported decreases in application volume, while the majorities of part-time and executive programs said application levels had remained the same or rose in 2011 compared with 2010. Key findings from the survey include:

  • 83 percent of master's of finance programs report applications are up, along with increased applications reported by 69 percent of master's in management and 51 percent of master's in accounting programs.
  • More than one-third (37%) of full-time MBA programs reported application volume as the same or greater than the previous year.
  • The majority of part-time programs (54%) said that application volume was the same or greater than the previous year; and 58 percent of Executive MBA programs saw the same or increased volume.
  • International applicants make up 53 percent of full-time MBA programs applicants, on average. Applicants from Asia-Pacific account for 57 percent of international students applying to programs in the United States.
  • The quality of applicants and their academic credentials are the same or higher in 2011 compared with last year for 89 percent of full-time MBA programs (39 percent of programs reported that applicants were more qualified than the previous year and 50 percent said applicants had the same qualifications). Meanwhile, acceptance rates for full-time MBA programs remained steady.

"The caution in this year's survey for full-time MBA programs is unsurprising in the current economy as students weigh the financial and time commitments required to pursue a graduate business degree," said Dave Wilson, President and CEO of the Graduate Management Admission Council.

"Still, the steadiness reflected in executive and part-time MBA programs, specialized master's programs and the growth among international applications shows the value people continue to place on graduate management degrees as investments in their career and future. The survey also reflects the ability of schools to respond to these market demands while continuing to attract the highest quality candidates. It's also worth noting that registration volume for GMAT testing has grown sharply over the last several months, one indication of student demand that might benefit schools as they head into the next admissions cycle."

GMAC has conducted the Application Trends Survey since 2000, lending the organization a unique vantage point to help schools understand trends in the demand for GME programs. Business schools use the Application Trends Survey results to gauge market trends, benchmark against other schools, develop strategies, share results, set goals internally, and justify resources.

A total of 649 programs from 331 business schools and faculties worldwide, representing 45 countries, 42 states and the District of Columbia, participated in the annual study, which is conducted from early June to mid-July every year.

Download the survey report and/or explore the additional data from the survey in an interactive tool at the GMAC News Center.

About GMAC

The Graduate Management Admission Council ( is a nonprofit education organization of leading graduate business schools worldwide dedicated to creating access to and disseminating information about graduate management education. GMAC is based in Reston, Virginia, and has regional offices in London (U.K.), New Delhi (India) and Hong Kong. The GMAT® exam was created in 1954 and is used by more than 5,000 graduate management programs at approximately 2,000 business schools around the world to assess applicants. The GMAT -- the only standardized test designed expressly for graduate business and management programs worldwide -- is continuously available at more than 550 test centers in over 111 countries. More information about the GMAT exam is available at