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January 2013

The Newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council

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Data to Go: Who’s Pursuing an Online MBA?

Distance is no barrier with an online MBA, which can draw students from all over the world. Yet GMAC’s 2012 Application Trends Survey of graduate business programs finds that the vast majority (87 percent) of their online/distance MBA candidates are domestic, and a third live in the same metropolitan area of the school.

“Online MBA programs have unlimited geographic potential, but in many cases, awareness of these programs is strongest close to home,“ said Alex Chisholm, director, statistical analysis, for the Graduate Management Admission Council.  “This could change as the market matures and quality online MBA programs gain awareness and acceptance.”

Three major factors seem to be driving the emergence of online education, Chisholm said. “First, social norms are evolving to embrace online learning services. Second, today’s students are digital natives who grew up in the online environment. Finally, the face of global business is changing. As more companies expand and do business internationally, operations are increasingly being conducted digitally. Looking ahead, none of these drivers are likely to weaken.”

Who is most interested in online MBA programs? Nearly 9,000 unique GMAT examinees sent score reports to online/distance MBA programs in testing year 2012 (July 1, 2011-June 30, 2012), up from around 7,500 in TY 2008. This growth has occurred during a time when demand for traditional MBA delivery methods has softened. Of those sending score reports to online programs:


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