Cornell Johnson | Ms. Chef Instructor
GMAT 760, GPA 3.3
Ross | Mr. Automotive Compliance Professional
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Seeking Fellow Program
GMAT 760, GPA 3
Wharton | Mr. Real Estate Investor
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Oil & Gas Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 6.85/10
Chicago Booth | Ms. CS Engineer To Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.31
Harvard | Mr. Climate
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. New England Hopeful
GMAT 730, GPA 3.65
Wharton | Mr. Digi-Transformer
GMAT 680, GPA 4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Bangladeshi Data Scientist
GMAT 760, GPA 3.33
Harvard | Mr. Military Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 3.9
Ross | Ms. Packaging Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Chicago Booth | Mr. Private Equity To Ed-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Gay Singaporean Strategy Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Electric Vehicles Product Strategist
GRE 331, GPA 3.8
Columbia | Mr. BB Trading M/O To Hedge Fund
GMAT 710, GPA 3.23
Columbia | Mr. Old Indian Engineer
GRE 333, GPA 67%
Harvard | Mr. Athlete Turned MBB Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Ross | Mr. Civil Rights Lawyer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.62
Stanford GSB | Mr. Co-Founder & Analytics Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 7.4 out of 10.0 - 4th in Class
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Environmental Sustainability
GMAT N/A, GPA 7.08
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Trucking
GMAT 640, GPA 3.82
Ross | Mr. Low GRE Not-For-Profit
GRE 316, GPA 74.04% First Division (No GPA)
Harvard | Mr. Marine Pilot
GMAT 750, GPA 3.98
Harvard | Mr. Army Intelligence Officer
GRE 334, GPA 3.97
Harvard | Ms. Data Analyst In Logistics
GRE 325, GPA 4
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Comeback Story
GRE 313, GPA 2.9

What Drives Chinese, Indian MBA Candidates?

Indian MBA seekers, like those from China, represent by far the greatest international bloc of students at U.S. business schools


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).


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.”


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