Globally, MBA Apps See Increase

There is yet another sign that MBA applications are on the rise globally.

A recent report from the Association of MBAs (AMBA) found that, since 2015, average applications per program have increased by 10%, with average enrollments per program rising by 24%.

That’s a jump from reports in 2009 and 2014, where the average number of applications per program decreased by 44% and the average number of enrollments decreased by 8%.

The report is based on a study of 223 business schools across the world by the AMBA.

More Applying And Enrolling In MBA Programs

The study also found that the global proportion of applicants and enrollments from women to AMBA-accredited programs has increased in recent years. According to 2017’s report, applicants to MBA programs from women have increased by 4% since 2013, when 33% of applicants were women. Globally, 35% of applicants who in enroll in AMBA-accredited programs are women.

“This implies that the chances of women submitting a successful application is broadly similar to men,” the report reads.

Yet, in some regions, the gender balance is still weighted towards men. In India, for instance, 90% of applicants who apply to MBA programs are men. The report also found that gender balance is weighted towards men in regions like Latin America, Europe, Africa, the UK, and Oceania.

Regions like Asia and the Middle East reported 33% and 40% of women applicants, respectively. According to the report, North America and the Caribbean, China, and Hong Kong had the most balanced gender breakdowns with 44% of applicants being female students and 42% of women enrolling into AMBA-accredited business schools.

Larger Schools See Larger Increases In Applications

 Where is this growth coming from? In general, larger MBA programs are driving the growth.  The Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) 2017 Application Trends Survey Report found that large schools saw the largest increases in applications.

Almost 73% of graduate business programs with 201 or more class seats reported increased application volumes in 2017. For smaller business schools of less than 50 seats, only 39% saw an increase in application volume.

Changing Economies And Evolving Programs

In periods of economic uncertainty, a number of b-schools have chosen to innovate their programs to attract more applicants, which may be a reason why applications are seeing increases.

In an interview with Times Higher Education, Will Dawes, AMBA research and insight manager and author of the study, says that business schools had previously suffered from the “period of considerable global economic uncertainty,” but the recent growth reflected their “ability to innovate” and “adapt to the market.”

A number of MBA programs now offer flexible options such as modular programs that allow students to earn an MBA while still working a full-time career.

AMBA’s report found that in Asia and the Middle East, modular programs made up 47% of all programs delivered in the region.

US B-schools See Less International Demand

Another trend with global implications was recently reported by GMAC, which found that only 32% of US b-schools reported growing international application volumes in 2017, compared to 49% in 2016. Programs in Europe and Canada were twice as likely to report growth in international applicants when compared to the US. In Canada, 77% of b-school programs reported increases in international applications. And despite major political upheaval, like the Brexit vote, a whopping two-thirds (65%) of programs in the United Kingdom have seen increased international demand.

A number of US b-schools cite Trump’s election as a main concern for decreased international applications. In a phone poll of 138 gatekeepers at leading US b-schools by Kaplan Test Prep, 68% reported they were either “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” that President Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric will impact international student enrollment in the years to come.

The drop in international applicants is concerning to many b-schools.

“Many business schools pride themselves on their robust international student presence and a culture that’s welcoming to aspiring MBAs from outside the U.S.,” Noah Teitelbaum, executive director of pre-business programs for Kaplan Test Prep, says. “In fact, it’s often a recruitment platform for attracting future international students, in addition to American applicants who also appreciate a globally diverse learning environment. With many U.S. business schools relying on international students to make up upwards of 30 percent of their total student population, it’s likely that they are adjusting their recruitment strategies accordingly.”

Yet, Teitelbaum says that US b-schools shouldn’t be quick to conclude that a reduction in international applicants is a long-term trend.

“What American business school leaders can take heart in is that a volatile political climate doesn’t necessarily lead to a long-term cratering of students from abroad, as British business schools continue to see robust growth in international applicants, despite initial Brexit worries,” he says. “The next few admissions cycles will tell us if what we are seeing in the United States right now is a blip on the radar screen or part of a more consequential multiyear trend.”

Sources: AMBA, Times Higher Education, GMAC, Poets & Quants

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