Two-Year MBA Programs In Application Slump


Full-Time One-Year MBA Programs Reporting Change in Application Volume

Source: 2016 GMAC Application Trends Survey

Source: 2016 GMAC Application Trends Survey

“The big story in this year’s report is the growing attraction of Europe, and the one-year program format,” adds Diarte, who examined the GMAC report with her colleague Judith Hodara. “We are currently in a golden age of MBA job recruitment, and applicants in their late 20s and even early 30s are that much more confident about the ROI and opportunity cost of a shorter program. The success of INSEAD, as well as Cambridge Judge, HEC Paris, Imperial and other one year programs in the FT Global MBA Ranking 2016 continues to translate into higher applicant volume and increased competition for a place. The international orientation of these programs is also a factor driving their success: MBA applicants (including those from the US) increasingly recognize the value of a business education that broadens their international experience and augments their ability to operate successfully across borders.”


The news was better for both full-time, one-year MBA programs as well as online degree offerings. Some 57% of these accelerated MBA programs report growing application volumes this year, building upon the momentum of last year’s results when 51% reported growth. GMAC said that European full-time one-year MBA programs are a bright spot in this year’s findings—nearly 3 in 4 (74%) programs report year-over-year increases in application volumes. In contrast, just 43% of  U.S.-based programs and 45% of programs in East and Southeast Asia report growth in the full-time one-year MBA market.

For the second consecutive year, the survey also found that a majority (57 percent) of online MBA programs report growing application volumes, up from 50% of programs that reported volume growth last year. Survey responses also show that 9% of online programs are new in 2017, signaling schools are implementing programs that are of high interest to prospective students.

Online MBA Programs Reporting Change in Application Volume 

Source: 2016 GMAC Application Trends Survey

Source: 2016 GMAC Application Trends Survey


The findings come from GMAC’s 17th annual Application Trends Survey done from early June to mid-July 2016. The survey is based on responses from 335 business schools worldwide, representing 872 graduate management programs, including MBA, non-MBA business master’s, and doctoral-level programs. Participating programs received a combined total of 440,000 applications during the 2016 application cycle. Ninety-three percent of all participating programs report that the applicants this year are similarly or more academically qualified than candidates last year.

While two-year MBA app volume was down, several categories of specialized master’s degree programs in business are having a different trajectory. One of the newest programs in the graduate management education space — Master in Data Analytics — continues to see growing demand. Nearly all (94%t) of the 16 data analytics programs that submitted data comparing 2015 with this year report application volume growth in 2016. The survey also shows program growth in this area as nine new programs will be seating their first classes this year.

For the second year in a row, a majority of Master of Finance programs report growing volumes. More than half of the European (65%) and U.S.-based programs (55%) report growth this year.





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