Graduate Management News

September 2014

The Newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council

Tracking the Trends in Your Candidate Pool: 15th Annual GMAC Applications Trends Survey

A deep dive into the latest trends around applications for business school programs worldwide will be shared in GMAC’s upcoming research study, The 2014 Application Trends Survey Report, on Wednesday, September 24th.

Application Trends

The analysis of application volume trends for graduate management programs provides insights into ongoing demographic shifts and other factors that define the candidate pools for the 2014 application cycle. Schools can use the annual survey findings to better gauge their own position compared with market trends, and to guide development of creative recruitment strategies to tailor plans to their programs’ strengths and resources. 

Survey topics to be featured include: 

  • Application volume trends in 2014 compared with 2013
  • Applicant pool composition, highlighting years of work experience and citizenship
  • Targeted candidate outreach, tuition assistance, and employer funding

The 2014 Application Trends Survey Report is based on data from a record-breaking total of 748 programs from 314 universities in 32 countries around the globe participating in the study. This includes 469 MBA programs, 259 specialized business master’s (non-MBA) programs—which represent 35 percent of respondents—and 20 doctoral programs. 

15 Years of the GMAC Application Trends Survey 

The upcoming report commemorates 15 years of collecting trends and observations about graduate management education for school professionals and admissions recruiters. The survey sample has expanded numerically, geographically, and by program format since 2000, when GMAC first began tracking trends in demand for graduate business programs. In the 2000 study, only 92 institutions supplied application data for 126 MBA programs, and participating schools were located mostly in the United States. 

Admissions Context in the Years 1999-2000 vs. Today

Past readers of the survey results may recall some of the economic, business, political, cultural and educational events influencing the context of decision-making for applicants and resulting application cycles in 1999 and 2000 around the world, including: 


  • In January 1999, the Euro currency was introduced in 11 countries. 
  • Infosys becomes the first Indian company listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
  • The world prepares for new millennium parties and waits to see if computers will experience the millennium bug (Y2K), which could cause wide scale disruption to business and infrastructure.
  • In 2000, Microsoft releases Windows 2000; AOL and Time Warner Merge; Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich files a lawsuit against Napster.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes at 10006.78 - above 10k mark for 1st time ever; NASDAQ peaks at 5132.52 (a level it has yet to regain) just before the dot com bubble bursts, thousands of DotComs go bust in 2000.


  • The impeachment trial of US President Bill Clinton began in the US Senate in 1999.
  • The China News Service announced new government restrictions on Internet use aimed especially at Internet cafés.
  • Kosovo War: NATO commences air bombardment against Yugoslavia 
  • Portugal returns Macau to China, and control of Panama Canal reverts to Panama.
  • Boris Yeltsin resigns as President of Russia, leaving Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as the acting President.
  • In 2000, the use of mobile phones continues to grow and move from the perceived "Yuppie Device" to an essential consumer product.
  • The first crew arrives at the International Space Station.



  • In GMAT testing year 2000, the total number of exams taken was 190,264 worldwide. Select examples of the proportions of citizens taking the exam include: US (53% of global exams); China and Hong Kong (5%); India (3%); Germany (1%). Overall, 39% of exams taken were by non-US citizens. 
  • The total number of master-level degrees in Business conferred by US institutions in academic year 1999-2000 was 111,532 degrees. 
  • The GMAC Application Trends survey in 2000 included 126 MBA programs (no specialized master’s programs) and participating schools were located mostly in the United States. And, our results were delivered in a 5-page written report. 


  • In GMAT testing year 2014, the total number of exams taken is 243,529 worldwide. The shares of citizens taking the exam now represent: US (36% of global exams); China and Hong Kong (24%); India (12%); Germany (2%). Overall, 64% of exams taken were by non-US citizens, stay tuned for data on foreign applicants in this year’s report! 
  • Latest available data show the total number of master-level degrees in Business conferred by US institutions in academic year 2011-2012 is 191,571 degrees. 
  • The GMAC Application Trends survey in 2014 includes data from 748 programs, and is more global in candidate reach. 
  • Reflecting a business school landscape that has become more diverse in terms of degree options and program formats—with MBA full-time two-year and one-year formats, as well as part-time, executive, flexible, online; and master degrees in Accounting, Finance, Management, Marketing and Communications, Information Technology, and PhD/DBA. For prospective students, the diversity of degree offerings presents more educational options than ever. For schools, it means that the business of operating graduate business programs—and devising successful recruitment strategies to attract fresh talent every year—has become more complicated. 
  • Lastly, our reports are vastly different from 2000. This year’s anticipated report will be 28 pages of data and analysis, with regional information for programs in Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the US.

Moreover, participants in this year’s survey already have access to online companion reports:

  • Customizable Benchmark Report offer an opportunity for participating schools to compare their results against aggregated data from peer schools. 
  • The Interactive Online Research Tool lets users conduct customized, in-depth searches of survey data by numerous variables including program type, class size, candidate demographics, volume changes, source of candidates, and more.

*Sources:;; U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, and GMAC Research (GMAT testing years run from July 1 to June 30).

Stay tuned for the survey report because here’s what you’ll find: 

  • Trends for MBA and Master’s Programs: Application Volumes, Program Size and Acceptance Rates; 
  • Applicant Profile: Work Experience, Foreign Candidate Pool, Spotlight on Women Applicants; and 
  • Recruitment and Outreach: Targeted Groups, Tuition Assistance and Employer Funding, Key Roles in Decisions.

GMAT accepting schools can sign up to participate in an upcoming webinar and be notified via email when the report is out. Click here to be notified when we publish the 2014 Application Trends Survey Report! 

About the Author

Michelle Sparkman-RenzMichelle Sparkman-Renz is director, Research Communications in the Research Department at GMAC. You can follow the research team on Twitter.