GMAC: The wave of applications for business schools is not a fad

After a record year in 2020, the volume of MBA applications continues to increase at the world’s top business schools, according to the latest GMAC Application Trends Survey.

Major new survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council shows applications from international students to U.S. business schools rebounded in 2021, with women and under-represented groups flocking to full-time MBA programs – and data suggests strongly that the rebound is not temporary. .

Business school application volume increased 0.4% from 2020, according to GMAC 2021 Application trends survey, released today (November 17). Last year has already been a banner year for applications, according to GMAC’s 2020 survey, as economic uncertainty following the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic helped boost 67% applications of all business master’s programs. But some have questioned whether the renewed interest will be sustainable.

The 2021 survey suggests that, at least for now, it wasn’t fluke – which Poets and Quantsown report established. “Applicants have sought alternative career options during the COVID-induced recession and business schools have introduced more flexible admission policies, which has resulted in increased application volumes last year,” Sangeet said Chowfla, President and CEO of GMAC. “The question was whether this was a fleeting event caused by the pandemic or the start of a new surge in applications. Against this background, the 2021 application cycle indicates that the growing demand for graduate studies in business is not a passing fad, but will endure beyond 2020. ”


Sangeet Chowfla, CEO of GMAC

GMAC’s annual survey focuses on the global demand for management education for graduates. This year, survey data was collected between July 8 and August 23, 2021, from nearly 1,000 MBA and Master of Business programs around the world.

Before the pandemic, the number of applications for graduate business programs hit its lowest level in three years, contracting 3.1% in 2019. This was due to two main factors: strong employment for domestic applicants and unwelcoming immigration policies in the United States. and the UK for international applicants.

In 2020, however, uncertainty triggered by the global pandemic reversed the app slump, resulting in growth of 2.4%.

“This change was similar to the counter-cyclical impact on claim volumes in times of economic uncertainty last seen during the 2008-2009 financial crisis,” the report said. Additionally, as applicants hedged their risk and schools introduced more flexible admission policies, application volumes skyrocketed in 2020. The 2021 application cycle comes against the backdrop of this growth spectacular applications over the past year. ”

Growth trends in the volume of applications to top business schools, 2017-2021. Source: GMAC 2021 Application Trends Survey


Following the election of President Donald Trump, a 2017 GMAC survey identified a significant drop in applications from international students to U.S. business schools. the “Trump effect” has also been measured in other business school surveys.

“We have seen some decline in the number of international students in the United States, but last year we started to see an improvement. Then, of course, the pandemic struck. While we have seen an increase in the interest of international students to study in the United States, this has not manifested in applications or in particular enrollments due to the travel and visa restrictions which are quite severe ” , Chowfla told Poets & Quants last month.

This trend is reversing aalmost years of pent-up demand, according to the latest GMAC poll. Applications from international applicants rose 4.1% in 2021, compared to a 3.8% drop from domestic applicants. In fact, more programs in the United States, Europe, and the United Kingdom reported a decline in domestic requests compared to other countries and regions.

“This difference between the volume of international and national applications is particularly evident for full-time MBA programs among major business schools,” the report says.

The share of two-year full-time MBA programs showing growth in the number of international applicants has doubled from 28% in 2019 to 57% in 2021. Twice as many MBA programs in the United States have seen an increase applications from international candidates (73%) national candidates (36%), notes the report.

“Business school learning is experiential and relies heavily on interactions, discussions and networks of cohorts and alumni. It’s impossible without a diversity of perspectives and experiences, ”said Katy Montgomery, Associate Dean of Diploma Programs at INSEAD and member of the GMAC Board of Directors. “As student mobility gradually returns, the diversity it brings to a classroom will only benefit and enrich life on campus. “


Application growth male vs female. Source: GMAC 2021 Application Trends Survey

The representation of women in business schools has been mixed in recent studies. Despite the gains made by women in enrollment in some B schools in the United States, they continue to lag behind men, especially at the graduate level, the GMAC found in IIts first global diversity report released last month. In the large regions examined, the lowest area for female participation in terms of ratio is in Europe.

In this survey of application trends, GMAC found that more women are applying to full-time MBA programs, but the growth of women applying to part-time or online programs was at its lowest level since 2017. MBAs and 56% of two-year MBAs reported an increase in female applications. This compares to 41% of all MBA programs combined.

This year’s application data also indicates that globally, female applicants emerging from the shadow of the pandemic have refocused on their career ambitions, with three full-time MBA programs over two years. in five (60%) reporting an increase in female applicants compared to two in five programs (43%) reporting growth in male applicants, ”the report said.

“In comparison, a much lower proportion of online MBA programs (42%) reported growth in female applicants, indicating a preference for women to return to full-time in-person learning. “


In the United States, women and underrepresented minorities (URMs) have reported a similar desire to study on campus. In 2021, 56% of full-time two-year MBA programs saw growth in URM applications, up from 37% before the 2019 pandemic. Only 30% of online programs reported growth in URM applications.

“Most notably, URM applicants showed an impressive 22% increase between 2019 (38%) and 2021 (60%) in their share of applications for two-year full-time MBA programs,” the report revealed.

Read the whole 2021 Application Trends Survey here.


About William G. Patrick

Check Also

Localized Sportswear Market Global Movements and Applications and Key Players – Xtep, Marmot, LULULEMON ATHLETICA, PEAK – Shanghaiist

Sports clothing The sportswear market The Report 2022 report provides the latest industry data and …