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Increase in Full-Time MBA Programmes Application Volume: GMAC Survey

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According to 2015 Applications Trends Survey, conducted by Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), shows the increase in application volume of majority of full-time MBA programmes, in both 2 year and 1 year formats compared to the last year and 10 years ago.

2 year full-time MBA programmes have seen 57% increase in application volume this year. For full-time 1 year programmes there is a notable improvement of 51% programmes which show application volume increase compared with the 37% increase reported last year.

Both the programmes are performing better compared with 10 years ago - 60% 2 year full time and 53% 1 year full-time MBA programmes indicate that they have received more applications this year than 2005.

"This is positive news and reflects a strong full-time MBA market," said Bob Alig, GMAC's executive vice president for school products. "The full-time MBA continues to be a sought after credential because graduates consistently see a high return on their investment - not only in terms of earnings, but also in job satisfaction and personal fulfillment."

The findings from GMAC's 16th annual Application Trends Survey show a positive turnaround in the domestic market for U.S.-based, full-time two-year MBA programs, as a majority (59 percent) report year-on-year domestic application growth - a level not attained since 2009. Domestic candidates still account for less than half of the applicant pool for these U.S. MBA programs - 45 percent in 2015.

According to this year's report, it is also reveals that the representation of women in programme applicant pools has increased 3-8% over the last 5 years of all programme types analysed in the report, with the exception of Master of Accounting, which continues to maintain its majority level of female representation (57%).

More than half of the following program formats report growing application volume for women in 2015: full-time two-year MBA (51% of programs), full-time one-year MBA (50%), Executive MBA (50%), online MBA (55%), Master in Management (55%), Master of Finance (56%), and Master of Marketing and Communications (60%t).

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"GMAC is pleased to see that business schools' efforts to increase the number of applications from women seem to be succeeding," said Alig. The report shows that targeted outreach for women candidates is conducted by 67 percent of full-time two-year MBA programs, 41 percent of part-time MBA programs, and 51 percent of Executive MBA programs

Regional Trends

  • European-based full-time one-year MBA programmes rebounded in 2015 after two years of stagnant volume. The majority (67 percent) report year-on-year application volume growth, compared with 38% reporting the same the last two years. This uptick can be attributed largely to increased demand from international applicants (63 percent of programs report increases compared with last year).
  • For the Asia-Pacific region, full-time two-year MBA programmes are performing exceedingly well - 90% report increases in volume. Sixty% of full-time one-year MBA programmes, on the other hand, report decreases in volume. These Asia-Pacific programs are unique within the full-time MBA market in that the majority of applicants are coming from within the region.

Additional Trends

  • Overall, a greater share of online and flexible MBA programmes report year-on-year application volume growth compared with part-time and Executive MBA programmes. This trend may be related to survey findings that indicate shifts in employer tuition assistance programs. This year, both part-time and Executive MBA programs expect fewer incoming students to have employer financial backing, whereas online MBA programs expect that a growing share of students will receive funding.
  • For specialized business master's programs, more report application volume increases than decreases among Master in Finance, Master in Management, and Master in Marketing and Communications programs. Among Master of Accounting programs, however, 40 percent report increases versus 47 percent reporting decreases.
  • The majority of U.S.-based graduate management programs show stable or growing application volume from underrepresented populations. For example, 63 percent of full-time two-year MBA programs report stable (15 percent) or increasing (48 percent) application volume for this group.

Recruiting the Ideal Graduate Management Candidate

  • When asked to describe the ideal business school candidate, survey respondents from all program types were asked to list three adjectives; frequently used words included "motivated," "driven," "passionate," and "ambitious."
  • Full-time MBA programs cite the ability to collaborate as being very important; part-time MBA programs value work experience, while specialized business master's programs look for academic and analytical skills.
  • In evaluating applicants, programs generally weigh academic transcripts, standardized exam scores, and interviews the most heavily in their admissions decisions.

Data for the 2015 Application Trends Survey were collected from a total of 641 graduate business programs located at 306 universities worldwide.

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