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Applications Increasing Across Business Schools

A majority of US business schools are seeing a rise in applications.

Ilana Kowarski, a reporter at US News, reports that over the past decade a majority of the 107 ranked business schools experienced an increase in applications.

According to the US News report, applications among top 10 MBA programs increased 26.9% between 2006 and 2016. Beyond the top 10, applications are increasing as well. US News reports that the average number of applications there rose 11.2% over the same period.


The University of Delaware’s Lerner College of Business and Economics had the greatest increase in applications with a 185.5% jump between 2006 and 2016.

According to Times Higher Education, a 2016 Application and Enrollment Report by the Association of MBAs (AMBA) found a net growth of 5% globally in the number of applications for AMBA-accredited programs in 2014-2015. Compare that to four years prior to 2014, when application numbers saw a decrease by 14%.

Reasons for Increase in Applications

The biggest reason for the increase in applications is the belief that an MBA will pay off as a investment and provide opportunities for prominent leadership positions.

Andrew Main Wilson is chief executive of AMBA. Wilson tells Times Higher Education that quality business education has become a crucial necessity as competition continues to grow.

“Whichever country you’re living in and working in, you’re facing global competition, and the need to be a more professional manager,” he says. “The need for the best possible business education you can afford has never been more important or desirable.”

Jack J. Baroudi is a professor and senior associate dean of academic programs at the University of Delaware. Baroudi tells US News that the increase in MBA applications reflects the “relevance of business school courses to everyday working life.”

Acceptance Rates Dropping

As demand for quality business education increases, competition grows as well.

According to US News, average acceptance rates among top 10 MBA programs dropped 2.2% between 2006 and 2016 (from 18.1% in 2006 to 15.9% in 2016). Among all ranked schools beyond the top 10, the acceptance rate fell from 48.9% to 48.1%.

Alex Min is the CEO of The MBA Exchange, an admissions consulting firm. Min tells US News that business schools can afford to raise their standards given the increase in applications. Increased competition and standards draws better talent, which makes a school more attractive to future applicants. Yet, Min also says that schools with fewer applicants could also lower their academic standards, which in turn, would make them less attractive to applicants.

To Wilson, demand for quality business education will only continue to grow, which means competition will too.

“People realize the world is not going to suddenly get a lot easier,” he tells Times Higher Education. There’s no point in waiting two or three years to see if the [economic] climate might be more favorable.”

Sources: US News, Times Higher Education