Apps To Full-Time MBA Programs Up


Source: GMAC 2014 Application Trends Survey

Source: GMAC 2014 Application Trends Survey

After widespread concern about a decline in interest in two-year MBA programs, most business schools are now reporting marked growth in their full-time, flagship MBA experiences, according to a new study out today (Sept. 29) by the Graduate Management Admission Council.

GMAC’s 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 and only 43% in 2012. It is the first time in five years when a majority of schools reported an increase.

Just 35% of the 314 responding business schools told GMAC their applications were down this past year. As recently as 2011, 67% of the surveyed schools reported declines in two-year MBA applications, causing widespread worry that growth in one-year master’s and online MBA programs was beginning to cannibalize the full-time MBA market. The last time a majority of schools reported rising applications in two-year, full-time MBA programs was 2009. At that time, 64% of the respondents reported an uptick.


By comparison, the survey reported a flattening or decrease in applications to other graduate management program types. The biggest surprise, perhaps, is that six of every ten business schools with one-year MBA programs reported a decline in applications this past year.

GMAC said its survey 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. Since 2012, much of the growth in U.S. full-time two-year MBA programs  has resulted from increased volume from foreign talent. This year, reported GMAC, 65% of U.S. programs report receiving more applications from foreign candidates, up from 56% in 2013, and 41% in 2012. U.S. schools report  that India and China are their largest sources of foreign students.

Domestic application volumes for full-time two-year MBA programs in the United States also have improved since

2012. Although 44% of programs in 2014 report declines in domestic volume, 48 percent report increases, more than double the percentage of programs reporting increasing domestic volume in 2012, according to GMAC.

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.


Among other findings of the 2014 survey are:

  • 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 percent 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.