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October 2012

The Newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council

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Additional Resources

To download the 2012 Application Trends Survey Report, go to

For a media release with graphic, go to

See trends by program type featured in GMAC webinars: Part-time MBAs (October) and master’s programs (archived from September).

GMAC 2012 Application Trends: Diversification, Regional Variation

Some 51 percent of all graduate management education programs worldwide in GMAC’s Application Trends Survey reported receiving more applications this year than last, a sign that overall health of the industry is strong. But the survey also points to a graduate management education universe that is increasingly complex, with wide regional variation.

“Although full-time two year programs received the lion share of applications, the fast growth of different MBA formats and different management degree types may be changing business schools as a whole,” said Gregg Schoenfeld, GMAC director, management education research, research and development.

“This phenomenon is not entirely applicant driven, as schools themselves have increasingly diversified their program offerings to deliver education that resonates with students riding out the turbulence of the challenging economy and job market.”

The annual Application Trends Survey, which charts year-to-year application changes at the program level, reveals that specialized master’s programs in management, finance, and accounting continue to show robust growth, as applications to full-time two-year MBA programs appear to be stabilizing globally, with about half of all full-time two-year MBA programs showing increases or holding steady from last year.

Data from the 2012 survey show that substantial differences by region are common.  Among full-time two-year MBA programs, for example, 79 percent of programs in Asia Pacific reported application increases, compared with 32 percent of programs in the US.

More regional highlights include:

  • Central Asia. Among all full-time MBA programs, 85 percent reported an increase in application volumes; 3 out of 4 programs reported increased volume from female applicants.
  • Asia Pacific. 79 percent of full-time two year MBA program volumes are up, as were applications from women, foreign students, and domestic students for 3 out of 5 programs.
  • Europe. 80 percent of master in management programs reported increased application volume, while more than half (58 percent) of one-year MBA programs reported fewer applications.
  • US. More specialized masters programs reported application volumes are up compared with 2011, especially master of accounting (74 percent of programs report increased applications) and master of finance (65 percent).

Worldwide, women make up more than half of the 2012-2013 applicant pool for master’s programs in management, accounting, and marketing/communications. Although men represented the majority of applicants to all MBA and master’s programs, 46 percent of all programs saw increased applications from women this year compared with 2011.

For the first time since GMAC researchers began reporting application trends in master-level business programs in 2008, this report includes findings for master’s programs in information technology (IT) management and marketing/communications. Each of these programs saw robust growth in 2012, with 69 percent of IT masters and 78 percent of marketing/communications master’s programs reporting increased application volumes.

Responses to the 2012 study were collected from early June to mid-July 2012. A total of 744 programs from 359 business schools worldwide representing 46 countries, 42 US states, and the District of Columbia participated in the study. By program type, survey respondents represent 527 MBA programs, 193 specialized master’s programs, and 24 doctoral programs in business.

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