KEY SIMILARITIES IN INDIA, U.S. CANDIDATES
Indian GME seekers differ from their Chinese and global colleagues in several key respects. They are younger (29.0 years old versus 32.0 for Chinese and 31.1 globally), and they are far less likely to have parents who did not earn a postsecondary degree (14% versus 52% for Chinese and 32% globally). More have an undergraduate degree in engineering (53% of Indian GME candidates versus 33% global candidates) and work in computers/IT (39% versus 19% globally). About 36% apply to B-school before entering the workforce — exactly in line with the global average, which is far more than in China (19%).
About 29% of Indians seeking GME are Global Strivers (versus 14% of global candidates), while another 26% are Respect Seekers (27%). Nineteen percent are Skill Upgraders, representing an overrepresentation compared to the global population (13%). Most strikingly in comparison with China, just 1% of Indians look at a B-school degree as something that will revitalize their career. And a significant 8% see an MBA degree through the lens of the Socioeconomic Climber.
GME candidates from India and the U.S. hew closely in some key categories: in numbers of Skill Upgraders (19% India, 15% U.S.), and in the average number of schools applied to (2.8 India, 2.7 U.S.) and average for parents without a postsecondary degree (14% India, 16% U.S.). Additionally, in both populations, an identical 60% are interested in full-time rather than part-time programs.
Of course, there are differences that set U.S. B-school aspirants apart. Respect Seekers constitute the biggest segment at 43%, and compared with the global GME market, U.S. candidates are more likely to be male (80% U.S. versus 65% global candidates) and are less likely to live in an urban setting (37% nonurban versus 17% globally). On average, they have smaller households compared with global candidates (an average of 3.1 persons versus 3.6 globally).
‘ACTIONABLE INSIGHTS’ FOR SCHOOLS
Some business schools segment prospective students based on demographic or geographic data. GMAC distinguishes its segmentation approach from those approaches by focusing on candidates’ core motivations — the factors that most motivate them to pursue a graduate business degree, and the factors that most motivate them to apply to a specific graduate business school. GMAC’s approach, it says, “is universal in its applicability, avoids cultural bias, and is stable over time, thereby ensuring reliable and relevant results on which schools can base long-term strategic initiatives.”
As Chowfla tells Poets&Quants, “Our goal with this study is to provide actionable insights that schools can use to hone their targeting and marketing strategies for prospective GME students, but also to look beyond admissions to informing program design and curriculum.”
It’s nothing new for B-schools to look at students in terms of demographics, Chowfla adds. But that didn’t get to the core motivation behind why people want to study graduate management education. “After all, being a man or a woman doesn’t drive them. What drives them,” Chowfla told the Times of India in a recent story, “is a particular type of aspiration. So we thought the time was right, as the market has overall matured, to really look at the global candidate marketplace from a segmentation point of view.”