New MBAs Confident About the Economy Despite Rough Employment Picture, GMAC Survey Shows

New graduates of MBA and other graduate management education programs are contending with a tough job market that has made landing employment before graduation the exception rather than the norm.

McLean, Virginia—New graduates of MBA and other graduate management education programs are contending with a tough job market that has made landing employment before graduation the exception rather than the norm. Yet people earning graduate business degrees in 2010 are more optimistic about the economy than their counterparts were last year, suggesting that people are confident that the skills and abilities they developed in business school will give them an edge in years to come, according to data from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

The percentage of job-seeking graduates from full-time two-year MBA programs who had an offer of employment prior to finishing school dropped to 40 percent in 2010 from 50 percent the previous year, according to the latest GMAC Graduate Management Education Graduate Survey.

Among part-time MBA students, 22 percent had a job offer before graduation, down from 38 percent in 2009. Less than a quarter of executive MBA (EMBA) graduates in the survey had a job offer before graduation, compared with 44 percent of EMBA graduates in last year’s survey. 

Although the percentage of students with job offers before graduation fell in 2010, the proportion of survey respondents reporting that they felt the global economy was stable or strong increased markedly, from 9 percent in 2009 to about 33 percent this year. This trend echoes the findings of the 2010 GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey, which found that employers are shifting away from an emphasis on cost-cutting and retrenchment, devoting more attention to expanding their businesses—and growing increasingly likely to hire business school graduates.

“While the job market may be cyclical, the value of management education is constant. The investment people make in their own human capital by going to business school gives them a competitive advantage that transcends the ups and downs of the economy,” said Dave Wilson, president and chief executive officer of GMAC, the international nonprofit association of leading business schools that owns the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). The GMAT exam is used by nearly 5,000 management education programs around the world as part of the admissions process.

The most popular industry among graduating MBAs in 2010 is finance and accounting, followed by products/services and consulting. Graduates seeking positions in the manufacturing sector reported the highest success rate, followed by those interested in the healthcare and energy/utilities industries. More than half of respondents to the survey said they expected to work in a different industry when they graduated than before beginning their degree program.

The 2010 GMAC survey Graduate Management Education Graduate Survey garnered responses from 5,274 graduate management students at 147 business schools around the globe. The GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey, conducted in conjunction with the MBA Career Services Council and EFMD (European Foundation for Management Development), reflects responses from 2,367 employers representing 1,960 companies in 57 countries. Both surveys were conducted from mid-February to mid-March. Reports about the surveys are available online at

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 McLean, Virginia, and has a European office in London. The GMAT® exam was created in 1954 and is used by more than 4,800 graduate management programs at nearly 1,900 business schools around the world to assess applicants. The GMAT—the only standardized test designed expressly for graduate business and management programs worldwide—is currently available at approximately 500 test centers in over 110 countries. More information about the GMAT exam is available at