For Applicants To Top MBA Programs, Trump No Deterrent

Stacy Blackman. File photo

Again and again, respondents to the Stacy Blackman Consulting survey indicate that demand is directly related to MBA program reputation and brand. Top MBA program brands, including Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, are likely to see a smaller decrease in applicant volume, whereas less-regarded MBA programs will experience a greater decrease in applicant volume in the current very strong U.S. economy. Irrespective of the U.S. political and economic climate, reputable MBA programs are highly coveted, with strong preferences among all MBA candidates for the top-10 business schools in the U.S.

Among U.S. MBA candidates, nearly all are vying for U.S. MBA programs: 98% of U.S. respondents are applying or planning apply to U.S. programs. In fact, U.S. programs are more sought-after than EU or international programs by a significant measure among all respondents: 57% of all respondents are applying for top-10 business schools in the U.S., the highest demand of all MBA program categories. The majority of the international MBA applicants, at 54%, favor U.S. MBA programs only.  

“Applicants understand an MBA as a long-term investment in their future,” Beth Tidmarsh says. “Thus, the long-term brand reputation and credential of a top-tier B-school is appealing, and international candidates may be willing to overlook the temporary political environment. The top-tier schools are coveted because the value of the education translates back to many countries around the world.

“Many international candidates considering an MBA in the U.S. have already attended undergrad, worked, or travelled in the USA. Familiarity with the U.S. may reinforce the advantages and opportunities of a U.S. MBA, while reducing their wariness of the current political climate,” Tidmarsh says.

Adds a current top-five MBA career coach who works for Stacy Blackman Consulting: “The reason top U.S. MBA schools are in demand is that top employers continue to source their talent from these pools of students — and this is especially critical for students wishing to make an industry and/or functional pivot post-MBA. Between the on-campus recruiting opportunities and broad-reaching alumni networks, there is tremendous value in a U.S.-based MBA.”


The SBC report includes actual answers from survey respondents. Among them:

• On top-ranked MBA programs’ reputation and brand: “I will only consider the USA for top MBA programs which will be beneficial for job applications. Otherwise, my prospects will be better in European schools.”

• On getting admitted: “I am only applying to UK programs and it is because my entire family is moving to the UK, so I want to stay close by, and I’d only consider a university in the U.S. if it’s top tier, but I feel like that might be too far of a reach for me. I applied last year and was rejected. I did have a lower GMAT score though, and my application was very rushed.”

Commenting on demographic trends, a former EU program admissions officer anonymously writes: “Certainly, the biggest growth in Oxford applications came from the Indian market. Part of this was down to us putting more focus on it in our recruitment. Although Brexit created a lot of concern with applicants from South Asia, American politics and uncertainty on policies was more concerning for the India market.” 

Source: Stacy Blackman Consulting

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