Graduate Management News

October 2014

The Newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council

Application Growth for Two-Year MBA Programs Follows Employer MBA-Hiring Intentions

For a third straight year, applications to full-time two-year MBA programs showed marked growth, according to latest results of GMAC’s recently released Application Trends Survey.

Application Trends

For a third straight year, applications to full-time two-year MBA programs showed marked growth, according to latest results of GMAC’s recently released Application Trends Survey. By comparison, a flattening or decrease in applications to other graduate management program types was seen in the report, which drew coverage in The Financial Times, Wall Street Journal At Work Blog, and other media.

The survey findings also highlighted trends observed in GMAT testing that show a growing number of students seeking to study outside their country of citizenship. These candidates make up a significant portion of the talent pool for many MBA and non-MBA master's programs and are driving changes in year-on-year application volume globally. 

The increasingly global talent pool has been emerging for more than a decade, and has shaped the development of management education – both in where it is growing, as well as the in the mix of programs types offered to meet the needs of global students. The trend is especially notable as this year’s report commemorates 15 years of collecting applications data by GMAC since the study began. 

"Viewed in tandem, there is good news for both students and schools in this survey, as well as in our recent Corporate Recruiters Survey (released in May 2014), where 4 out of 5 companies said they planned to hire MBA graduates in 2014," said Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC president and CEO. 

"For schools, the rise over the last three years in two-year applications is welcome. This echoes other research that tells us how highly students value their two-year MBA degrees for the personal, professional and financial advantages it conveys. For students, GMAC's Corporate Recruiters Survey may very well signal a change in hiring from a cost-driven, recession-driven organizational focus, to a growth-driven focus utilizing the skills that MBA programs are designed to develop," Chowfla continued. 

The 2014 Applications Trend Survey found that 61% of global full-time two-year MBA programs participating in the survey reported application growth – up from 50% of programs in 2013.

Key findings include:

  • The percentage of professional MBA programs (part-time, flexible, online, and executive MBA) reporting increased application volume was higher this year than in 2013, however, the majority of programs is not yet experiencing growth. 
  • Results for 2014 are mixed for the specialized business master's (non-MBA) programs. Growth in application volume is seen among Master in Marketing and Communications, Master in Information Technology, Master in Management, and Master of Accounting programs. Master of Finance programs are experiencing declining volume for the third year in a row. 
  • In the United States, 65% of full-time two-year MBA programs report receiving more applications from foreign candidates, while demand also continues to improve among domestic candidates (up for 48% of programs in 2014 compared with 22% in 2012). 
  • The following programs reported a majority of foreign candidates in their applicant pools: 
    • Master of Finance (82% of applicants)
    • Master in Management (73%) 
    • Master in Marketing and Communications (69%) 
    • Full-time one-year MBA (56%)
    • Full-time two-year MBA (52%)
  • Citizens of countries in East and Southeast Asia and Central and South Asia make up the majority of foreign candidates applying to programs in Asia-Pacific, Canada, India, and the United States.
  • Programs located in Europe received their largest share of foreign candidates from East and Southeast Asia and from other European countries.

For any questions, please contact survey manager Rebecca (Estrada) Worthington, who is currently finalizing school participation for the upcoming Alumni Perspectives Survey to understand innovation in careers after b-school, and how powerful a force alumni can be in building a school’s brand.