According to a new Applications Trend Survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), 73% of graduate business programs with 201 or more class seats report increased application volume this year. This is compared to 30% of the smallest programs, those with 50 or fewer class seats. The growth in the larger U.S. programs is caused by a jump in domestic applications, which offset declines in international applicants.
GMAC ran its eighteenth annual Applications Trend Survey between early June and mid-July 2017. A record 361 business schools and faculties from 40 countries representing 965 graduate management programs, including MBA, non-MBA business masters, and doctoral-level programs responded to the survey. A total of 466,176 applications were received by the participating programs during the 2017 application cycle.
Following are some findings from the survey:
• Regardless of class size, a majority of programs in Europe, Canada, East and Southeast Asia, and India report volume growth in 2017. With the exception of part-time lockstep MBA and Master in Data Analytics programs, less than half of the U.S. programs are growing.
• Recent U.S. political events seem to have impacted applications from international students in 2017. European and Canadian programs are about twice as likely to report growth in international applications compared with 32% of U.S. programs. Despite the Brexit vote, about two-thirds of UK programs have seen growth in international demand.
• Overall, 67% of U.S. application volume, 70% of Canadian volume, 89% of European volume, 20% of East and Southeast Asian volume, and less than 1% of Indian volume were international students.
• Women represent 42% of total applications received by survey participants, an increase from 37% in 2013.
• 54% of part-time lockstep programs – in which students progress through a classroom-based program as a group – report increased volume this year. Just 34% of part-time self-paced programs – where students set their own schedule in a flexible format – reported increased volume.
• Employer sponsorship remains important. 52% of part-time, self-paced students, 40% of executive MBA students, and 39% of part-time lockstep students are expecting to receive employer support.
• The majority of full-time MBA applicants have between three and ten years of experience; most of the executive MBA applicants had 10+ years of experience; and the majority of online MBA applicants had 6+ years of experience.
• Business masters applicants generally have less than one year of experience, with the exception of Master in Data Analytics applicants, who usually have more experience.
See the GMAC report for more details.
The news here is how the bigger, higher-ranked programs seem to be bucking the declining international application trend that has been widely anticipated in the wake of Donald Trump’s election and that really hit smaller and lower-ranked programs. Some of the top programs, notably Harvard’s Class of 2019, have even maintained their international enrollment. At the same time, increasing domestic application numbers have caused an actual increase in overall application volume at several schools – Chicago Booth and CMU Tepper are up by 13.5% , Yale SOM is up by 12.3%, and CBS is up by 11.8% per P&Q, with other programs reporting smaller increases and some reporting declines, notably Emory (-14.6%), Cornell Johnson (-15.1%), and Indiana Kelley (-18.6%).
Anticipate more and stiffer competition for spots at the leading U.S. MBA programs among domestic applicants and perhaps a slightly easier time getting in for international students who still prefer U.S. b-schools over European, UK, and Canadian programs.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.
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