Admissions Trends to Watch in 2013

2013 Trends

Trends for 2013

2012 has been an exciting year. Experimentation in applications including interviews and essays has marked the most recent admissions cycle. In addition, the recession, growing concern about rising tuition and student debt, and the promise of MOOCs is shaking the world of higher education.  But let’s leave the 35,000 foot view of last year and gaze into the crystal ball for next year.

Trends for 2013

  1. Increased use of MMI in medical school admissions will continue.
  2. For law school, an increasingly practical approach to legal education with more opportunities for externships, internships, and coursework related to legal practice.
  3. More new one-year specialized masters programs like UM’s Masters in Entrepreneurship or Rochester Simon’s menu of one-year specialized masters programs as well more accelerated MBA programs or expansion of existing ones, like those at Kellogg, Columbia, and Cornell. These shorter programs, as well as part-time programs and one-year programs abroad, will present increasing competition to the traditional full-time, two-year U.S. MBA programs.
  4. More experimentation with the MBA interview.  I predict more group interviews, as was introduced by INSEAD and Wharton in the last two years. I also predict continued experimentation with essays and attempts to find alternatives to essays, probably using media other than the written word.
  5. Continued growth of Asian MBA programs as continuing economic contraction in Europe, increasingly restrictive visa policies there, and the relatively strong Asian economy encourage Asian business schools’ growth and competitiveness.

How did I do in 2012?

So that’s what I foresee for this year, but how did last year’s predictions stack up?  How cloudy was my crystal ball. Well I predicted:

  1. Interview experimentation, specifically more use of team interviews for business school. On the money!  :-D
  2. “The trend towards more openness with data (in law school admissions) will spill over to MBA programs.” Not sure here. I think so, but can’t point to anything specific.
  3. “Expect more focus on realistic, well-reasoned goals in all areas of graduate admissions.” Again, I think this is true, but I can’t point to any specific evidence. Jan. 3 2013 News Flash (Edit): I now have some evidence. Today’s Wall Street Journal article M.B.A. Pop Quiz: Are You Employable? reports on increasing number of business schools that are have career services weigh in on admissions decisions.
  4. Increased Flexibility in B-School Curricula.” I expected more schools to move toward the Chicago Booth, UCLA and Wharton models where general requirements can be taken later in one’s b-school career.  Frankly, I haven’t seen this development.

And what did I miss entirely? The shrinking of the MBA application. There have been fewer essays almost across the board.

So my crystal ball definitely had some inaccurate refraction last year. Let’s see how I do in 2013.

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

// ~ Helping You Write Your Best

Specialized Business MS Degrees on the Rise

Specialized Business MS Degrees

“Boom in interest for Master’s programs”

A Bloomberg Businessweek article talks about the increase in Master’s programs in specialized business fields. With Maryland’s Smith School of Business as a pioneer (about to open its fifth specialized MS program in 2013), other b-schools are quickly following suit and “riding on the wave of interest” in one-year business MS programs. In fact, Michigan’s Broad School is working on its seventh MS program, and Rochester’s Simon School of Business has about a dozen MS programs…with more in the works!

Currently there are MS programs in finance, supply chain management, management, accounting, marketing analytics, and others.

The boom in interest for Master’s programs accompanies a decline in interest in traditional MBA programs (see “2012 Application Trends: MBA & Management Programs”). The BW article attributes this recent boom to several factors, the most prominent being the convenience and affordability of a one-year program that doesn’t require 5+ years of work experience.

exemplary-report ~ Helping You Write Your Best

2012 Application Trends: MBA & Management Programs

GMAC Application Trends

Ups and Downs of Application Volume

A GMAC press release reports on the ups and downs of application volume at graduate-level business and management programs since 2011 as based on the 2012 Application Trends Survey.

Here are some survey highlights:

  • 51% of all programs reported an increase in application volume since the previous year; 39% of all programs reported a drop in applications; and 9% saw no change.
  • For full-time one-year MBA programs, 47% saw increases in applications; 44% reported decreased applications; and 9% saw no change from the previous year.
  • For full-time two-year MBA programs in the U.S., 32% reported application increase; 62% reported decreases; and 7% reported no change.
  • For full-time two-year MBA programs in Asia Pacific, 79% saw increases; 14% saw decreases; and 7% saw no changes.
  • Most programs saw an increase in applications from foreign students.
  • 94% of masters programs and 90% of MBA programs reported that their application pool was as impressive or more impressive than last year’s pool.

See the 2012 Trends Survey, as well as the chart below (from the GMAC press release) for more information.

new-call-to-action ~ Helping You Write Your Best

Admissions Straight Talk: Interview with The Economist’s Bill Ridgers

Bill Ridgers

Bill Ridgers

Get the full audio of our exciting conversation with Bill Ridgers, for great info about MBA rankings, trends, and more:

00:26:50  –  Bill Ridgers: Business Education Editor at The Economist, “Which MBA” Editor, and…cricket editor for The Economist. Cool.

01:17:50  –  The Which MBA? Online Fair (Sept 5&6). What it is, and why you should attend.

03:36:50  –  The Economist’s unique approach towards MBA rankings: a focus on what students really consider important.

09:45:00  –  A surprising and controversial list: the The Economist’s Top 10 B-Schools from 2011.

13:05:50  –  When are rankings actually a valuable source of information?

15:18:00  –  Trends to celebrate in business education.

22:31:00  –  Bill’s most important advice for this year’s MBA applicants. And what makes Linda cringe.

Register for the Which MBA? Online Fair, taking place next week on Wednesday and Thursday, September 5 &6 and keep your eyes open for the new rankings due to be released in October!

Admissions Smart Talk Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes so you don’t miss any segments! Stay in the admissions know. (And while you’re there, feel free to leave us a review.)

*Theme music is courtesy of

MBA Admissions 2013: What’s New – Now Available!

What's New MBA 2013Recently, Linda presented an exciting webinar about the quirks and changes of the current MBA application season.

That webinar, MBA Admissions 2013: What’s New?, is now available for online viewing, anytime and anywhere.

Some of the topics that Linda addresses during the webinar include:

  • What are today’s admissions readers looking for when they review applications?
  • What are some popular trends in MBA admissions?
  • How do you cram all of your thoughts and experiences in the new, shortened essay questions?

…and more!

View MBA Admissions 2013: What’s New? now! ~ Helping You Write Your Best

Spots Running Out for MBA Trends Webinar!

What's New MBA 2013Don’t forget to register for our upcoming webinar on the quirks, trends, and changes in this year’s MBA admissions season.

MBA Admissions 2013: What’s New? will take place in THREE DAYS on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 10:00 AM Pacific Time / 1:00 PM Eastern Time.

Spaces are limited! Reserve your spot for MBA Admissions 2013: What’s New? now! ~ Helping You Write Your Best

FREE Webinar: Get the 2013 MBA Admissions Scoop!

What's New MBA 2013You’ll create the best, most attractive, most convincing MBA application if you are well informed about the goings on in the MBA admissions world. For example, what are adcoms REALLY looking for in 2013 applicants? Who do they think will become the greatest business leaders of the future? What are the two most significant changes to applications this year and how should you respond to them? How do you cram all that info and data that’s in your head into those tiny word limits?

Get the answers to these questions and many more during’s upcoming webinar, MBA Admissions 2013: What’s New?, during which Linda Abraham, Accepted CEO and MBA admissions expert, will share her insider knowledge on the 2013 application trends, changes, and quirks.

The webinar will take place on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 at 10:00 AM PT / 1:00 PM ET.

Spaces are limited, so reserve your spot for MBA Admissions 2013: What’s New? right now! ~ Helping You Write Your Best

Should Gupta Conviction Affect Your MBA Decisions?

Insider Trading

“Ethics classes will be pretty ironic won’t it?”

I recently received the following comment from ANP on an April 2011 MBA Admissions News Round Up:

“I had posted that you are not giving a fair view to potential ISB applicants by ignoring the fact that Rajat Gupta was accused in the Galleon insider trading scandal. But well he has been convicted now. How does that change your view of ISB now that it’s founder is a convicted white-collar criminal? Ethics classes will be pretty ironic won’t it? I hope to see a post informing readers about this.”

Just in case there is an MBA applicant out there who doesn’t know, Rajat Gupta is an IIT grad and Harvard MBA who went on to become the Managing Director of McKinsey & Company. He co-founded the Indian School of Business and was chairman of its board until 2011. He also served on several corporate boards, including those of Goldman Sachs, AMR, and P&G; educational boards, including that of University of Chicago, Harvard Business School, Lauder Institute, Kellogg, MIT Sloan, and Weill Cornell; and charitable boards, including the Gates Foundation, India AIDS Initiative, World Economic Forum, and more.

Rajat Gupta was convicted last Friday of insider trading.

An arms-long list of felons either graduated from or actively supported business schools of varying pedigree, including Harvard (Gupta, Jeffrey Skilling), Wharton (Milken, Rajaratnam), and Kellogg (Fastow). Ivan Boesky, who was convicted of insider trading in the late 1980’s, actually taught at Columbia and NYU Stern prior to his conviction. These are just a few names that came to my mind; there are more.

Certainly the Hall of Shame from the last twenty-five years does not seem to have damaged the reputations of these programs or their ability to educate students and send grads on a trajectory of professional success. And the convictions of McKinsey alumni Skilling and Gupta haven’t diminished McK’s allure.

While certainly not badges of pride or associations to tout, the failings, mistakes, and even crimes of individual members of a community or institution don’t determine the value of that education or institution — provided the institution disavows and discourages the criminal behavior and that behavior is the exception rather than the rule. Those misdeeds belong to the individuals who went down the slippery slope and made the big mistakes that they are now paying or have paid for so dearly.

Unless moral purity is your sole criterion for choosing a school, I recommend that you choose schools based on the following:

  1. Ability to help you achieve your professional goals.
  2. Curriculum you want to study in the way you want to study it.
  3. Attractiveness of the school’s student life and extra-curricular activities.
  4. Personal preferences regarding location, family needs, etc.
  5. The likelihood of your acceptance.

ANP asks about ethics classes taught at ISB in light of Gupta’s conviction. In fact, last year an HBS prof corresponded with Bernie Madoff about his ponzi scheme; the purpose of the correspondence is research for a series of case studies. Business schools frequently bring in convicted felons to speak about their crimes and punishment. My understanding is that students have found these presentations more impactful than theoretical books and seminars with Thou Shalt’s and Thou Shalt Not’s.

How does Gupta’s conviction affect my opinion of ISB? It doesn’t. It affects my opinion of Gupta.

How about you?

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.


GMAC Corporate Recruiters’ Survey 2012: Further Thoughts

The Cloud in This Generally Sunny Picture?

The Cloud in This Generally Sunny Picture?

We summarized key results of the recently published 2012 GMAC Corporate Recruiters’ Survey, but the report presents a lot of data, and I am returning to it today.

Fortunately most of the news is good, especially if you’re not looking for a job in Europe, where demand is flat. Globally, recruiters expect to hire more MBAs and holders of Masters in Accounting (MAcc), and Masters in Management (MiM) degrees. The Asia-Pacific region is the most active.

The cloud in this generally sunny picture? Average starting salaries have been flat since 2008. And as Businessweek’s Louis Lavelle points out in his post on PayScale’s report on MBA ROI for BW’s top 57 programs, tuitions are inexorably rising so the no-brainer ROI that MBAs traditionally enjoyed isn’t as high as it used to be.  It correlates well to b-school rank and is of course heavily influenced by the career the MBAs pursue after graduation as well as their incoming salaries.

Focusing on the reduced ROI when compared to the ROI of X years ago is foolish for applicants. You can’t choose to turn back the clock to a time when ROI was higher. GMAC and PayScale data as well as that from other sources shows that the MBA is usually profitable.

Clearly, however there is a smaller margin for error. The MBA is a major investment.  You can and should carefully choose the best program for you to ensure the highest return on your MBA asset at this point in time. Define your goals. Consider different options, including one-year MBA alternatives, part-time programs, and specialized degrees. Weigh the costs and examine opportunities in your target industry, function, and location.

“Should’ve” and “could’ve” will not help your analysis.  The critical question is “What can I do with an MBA that I can’t do without it?” Look at your anticipated income and career path with and without an MBA. Compare, and then decide if the MBA is likely to pay for you in the future both in terms of coldly calculated ROI and in terms of warm and fuzzy, but equally important, personal satisfaction.

The higher average ROI of five or ten years ago is irrelevant to your decision making process. A careful analysis of your options today and their likely results will lead to a smart decision.

Linda Abraham By Linda Abraham, president and founder of and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.


As Chinese Grad School Applicants Flock to the US, What’s the Impact for You?

How does the increase in Chinese applicants affect you?

How does the increase in Chinese applicants affect you?

Earlier this month the Council of Graduate Schools reported that 2012 is seeing a continued torrent of Chinese applicants to US graduate programs: up 18% for fall 2012, following increases of 21% in 2011 and 20% in 2010.  The most popular recipients of the applications are engineering, business, and earth sciences programs.   This significant news was featured widely, including in the Wall Street Journal, which concisely discusses some of the drivers of this trend.

What does this trend mean to you, in practical terms?

Chinese applicants tend to have strong academic track records and high standardized test scores.  Moreover, as they learn from the experience of their seniors who are now students in the US, and as they have more access to consultants, they are increasingly sophisticated about the application process.  In short, they’re often formidable candidates.

If you are Chinese and applying to programs favored by your countrymen, you will face the challenge of being in an over-represented group.  Your academic record and test scores will be compared to others of your nationality, so (a) high scores are all the more important, but alone will not win you acceptance, and therefore, (b) your essays, resume, and interviews should distinguish you within this group.

If you are a non-Chinese applicant to programs that receive many Chinese applicants, realize that these applicants likely raise the bar in terms of test scores and undergrad records.  While adcoms will still evaluate applicants in comparison to their own demographic groups, if one major group’s scores are high, it still raises the bar overall.

If you are a foreign, non-Chinese applicant to programs that receive many Chinese applicants, your nationality potentially represents a point of diversity as programs seek a range of geographic perspectives.  Try to get some mileage out of this distinctiveness in your application.

Chinese applicants and students are known for their focus and their drive to excel.  I speculate that this drive makes them less likely to drop out of grad programs and more likely to finish on time.  If you’re applying to programs that attract many Chinese applicants, it can only help to convey serious determination while portraying your motivations and passions.

Cindy TokumitsuBy Cindy Tokumitsu, author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last thirteen years with Accepted. She can help you assess your strengths and weaknesses and develop a winning graduate admissions strategy.