Graduate Management News
 
 
 
Data & Trends

Apps Are Up

The story of application trends for business schools in 2007 can be summed up in two words: bull market. Following a robust showing in 2006, application volume for 2007 is up substantially—strong evidence that student interest in graduate management education continues to surge worldwide.

The Council’s 2007 Application Trends Survey shows good news on many fronts:

  • Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of full-time business education programs told GMAC they received more applications in 2007 than they did last year. More than one-fifth of full-time programs reported that application volume rose by more than 20 percent.
  • Among part-time programs, 69 percent reported increased application levels. Twenty-six percent of part-time programs said application volume rose by at least 21 percent.
  • Sixty-three percent of executive MBA programs said more applicants came to their doors this year compared with 2006. Twenty-three percent reported a gain of more than 20 percent. (An increase in the number of foreign applicants significantly contributed to the increase in the overall application volume for EMBA and flexible MBA programs.)

Many MBA programs say applicant quality continues to increase. Fifty-eight percent of full-time programs said their applicants in 2007 were better qualified than applicants in 2006.

“This is a very exciting time for people to be investing in themselves and preparing to move onward and upward to the next stage of their careers,” said GMAC President and Chief Executive Officer Dave Wilson. “It all comes down to one simple fact: Business schools are delivering great economic value to their students, and value creation is creating demand for MBA graduates.”

The survey also shows that efforts to recruit a more diversified student body are paying dividends: Application volume from women and minorities is on the rise. About 57 percent of full-time programs—and an equal proportion of part-time programs—said they received more applications from women in 2007 than during the previous year. Forty-five percent of full-time programs said applications from minorities increased.

Programs that make a special effort to recruit women—often underrepresented in business schools—were particularly successful at increasing female application volume, the survey found. Full-time MBA programs that actively recruit women, for example, receive an average of three times as many female applicants as programs that do not have similar programs. [At the same time, though, the survey found that proportionally more women apply to part-time MBA programs (37%) than to full-time programs (27%)].

“It is very encouraging that efforts to target women are having an impact,” said Nicole M. Chestang, chief client officer at GMAC. “My hope is that these results will motivate even more schools to develop special outreach programs.”

There was less interest this year in PhD programs. More than half of PhD programs (53%) reported a drop in 2007 application volume. This downtick may be due to a decline in applications from citizens of countries outside the United States, which constitute the majority of PhD applicants.

As a sign of continued strong interest in graduate management education, the application data complement findings from a GMAC survey earlier this year about recruiter interest in business school. Corporate recruiters told GMAC researchers that the biggest obstacle they face in hiring new MBAs is competition from other employers; the majority of new MBA graduates reported receiving multiple job offers this year, often weeks before graduation.
 
The 2007 GMAC Application Trends Survey includes responses from 445 MBA and other graduate business education programs at 252 schools worldwide. The participation level is up dramatically from 2006, when 230 programs at 147 schools participated. Schools participating in the 2007 survey included 178 in the United States, 27 in Europe, 17 in Canada, and 30 in other world regions (combined due to sample size). Now in its eighth year, the study includes management degrees other than the MBA, including the PhD and specialized master’s degrees in such fields as management, accounting, and finance.

Listen to an "Op-Cast" from Dave Wilson, president and CEO of the Graduate Management Admission Council, who provides an audio opinion about application trends and what they mean for schools.

For more information or a copy of the survey report, please visit www.gmac.com/surveys or send an email to research@gmac.com.

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