Canadian B-Schools Gain Ground

The University of Toronto's Rotman School

The University of Toronto’s Rotman School

Business schools in Canada and Australia are getting increased interest from the world’s new generation of prospective MBA students, a new study of applicant opinions shows.

The U.S., however, remains the single most popular destination in the world to get an MBA degree. The only part of the world, in fact, where the U.S. is not the preferred place to get the MBA by the majority of candidates from a specific region is Western Europe, where has many viable prestige options.

Overall, 65% of the responding applicants to the study said they preferred the U.S. The second most popular destination for an MBA was the United Kingdom chosen by 41% of the respondents, followed by both Canada (23%) and France (23%). Canada, thanks largely to liberal work visa rules, has come on particular strong.


Only four years ago, Canada was the preferred destination for MBA study by only 8% of the study’s respondents, a number that was roughly a third of the current demand. But increasingly liberal work visa policies for immigrants who graduate from Canadian universities and a more aggressive stance by business school in Canada account for the difference.

The University of Toronto’s Rotman School, in particular, has been highly aggressive in recruiting applicants from India and China. With a strategy to significant increase the size of its entering class, the school also has to increasingly rely on international recruitment to realize its growth goals. The country also boasts an impressive concentration of top quality schools. In addition to Rotman, there is McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management, Western Ontario’s Ivey School of Business, University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, York University’s Schulich School of Business, and Queen’s School of Business.


“The increased global prominence of Canadian schools can be seen by the even distribution of respondents highlighting it as a study preference, ranging from 12.8% in Western Europe to as high as 30.3% in Latin America,” the study found.

The survey is based on a poll of MBA candidates by QS, an organization that holds admissions fairs for business schools. All told, 4,122 applicants responded to the survey from the more than 70,000 applicants who registered for the QSWorld MBA Tour in the spring and fall of 2012, a response rate of 5.9%.

There tends to be a European bias in the results because a disproportionate percentage of the respondents are from Europe where QS is more firmly established than in the U.S. Nonetheless, the results still are somewhat informative and suggest that schools in both Canada and Australia are attracting increased interest from worldwide MBA applicants.


Nonetheless, interest in studying for an MBA Spain, where a trio of business schools have emerged as among the world’s best, is beginning to wane, the study shows. “2013 has seen a major drop in candidates in Western Europe interested in studying in Spain, down from 23.7% in 2012 to just 16.2%,” the author’s study stated. “A remarkable 9% of Western European candidates are now interested in China, reflecting its increased prominence.This is more than any other region, including Asia.” Presumably, the decline in interest is due to the state of the Spanish economy, one of the worst in Western Europe.

“Today’s MBA candidates display a willingness to consider a far greater range of study destinations, with the likes of Canada and Australia emerging as challengers to the traditional dominance of the U.S. and U.K,” the study said. “2013 has seen a big surge in candidates interested in Canada (+5.4%) and Australia (+4.8%), underlining their emergence as major global players.”

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