What Kind Of Business School Applicant Are You?

MBA graduate from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business

What Kind Of Business School Applicant Are You?

B-school is filled with a variety of individuals—all with diverse background and goals.

Matt Symonds, a contributor at Forbes and co-founder of Fortuna Admission, recently discussed a GMAC Study that breaks down the motivations of why applicants pursue b-school.

“Whether applying for an MBA at Harvard, a MiM at the London School of Economics, or an Exec MBA at CKGSB Beijing, it turns out that what motivates someone to pursue a graduate management education fits into one of seven well-defined candidate segments,” Symonds writes for Forbes.


To carry out the study, GMAC partnered with Ipsos, a global market research firm.

GMAC surveyed roughly 5,900 individuals who applied to a graduate b-school program between January 2014 and April 2016.

Participants answered a 34-question survey which included screening questions.

The sample-size was a vast-representation as well. According to GMAC, participants’ citizenship represents 15 countries with over 11 languages used in conducting surveys.

The Seven Types of Applicants

The study found that there are seven main types of applicants who apply to b-school, as reported by Forbes.

The first is the “Respect Seeker,” who pursues graduate management education for reasons such as standing out, gaining respect, keeping up with peers, and increasing status. Roughly 17% of those surveyed fell in this category.

The second is the “Global Striver,” which makes up 34% of participants. The Global Striver seeks the higher degree to widen their expertise, improve their management skills, gain international exposure, and open doors to global employment opportunities.

The third is the “Balanced Careerist.” These made up 8% of participants, who live busy lives and pursue a higher degree that can fit into their schedule. The goal for Balanced Careerists is to earn more money while having convenience.

The fourth is the “Career Revitalizer.” Making up 5% of participants, Career Revitalizers are driven to reinvent themselves and advance in their career with a graduate management degree.

The fifth is the “Socio-Economic Climber.” At 11%, Socio-Economic Climbers pursue a higher degree to better advance their social status and provide a better future for their children.

The sixth is the “Skill Upgrader.” Skill Upgraders, who make up 13%, are determined to improve their skills to keep pace with change and become an expert in their said field.

Lastly, there is the “Impactful Innovator,” who at 12%, seeks to develop his or her skills as a means to start a business or bring an idea to life.

Better Understanding The Applicant Pool

For many b-schools, the study can provide valuable insights into what kinds of applicants are applying to their program.

“Schools can use this knowledge to highlight features of their programs, curriculum, and activities that candidates are seeking in their educational experience,” Deborah Somers, GMAC’s regional director for Europe, tells Forbes. “Candidates can learn more about themselves, which provides them an opportunity to highlight their motivations as well as understand what is important to them in their program selection.”

Tailoring The Experience

Once b-schools have identified what kinds of applicants are applying to their program, they can use the insights to target said applicants and tailor the b-school experience to their needs.

“Developing truly student-centered curriculum and program design requires a deep understanding of the student population’s motivations, study preferences, and career aspirations,” the GMAC study reads.

Sabrina White, vice president for the Americas at GMAC, tells Forbes that b-schools are increasingly tailoring their experiences to meet global needs.

“While we have seen significant increases in quality business schools around the world, the US remains the most sought-after destination and now is a great time to apply,” White tells Forbes. “Schools are ramping up their international recruitment efforts, and growing partnerships with foreign institutions and multi-national organizations. New scholarship programs are emerging, and American schools are working extremely hard to meet the needs of students while creating welcoming, inclusive environments.”

Sources: Forbes, GMAC

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