Good News:

MBA Application Volume Rebounds!

GMAC reports that in 2006 the application volume for all program types was up thanks to the increasing number of foreign and female applicants. Moreover, during the last year the quality of participants has increased (Application Trends Survey,” Survey Report”, July 2006).

Application volume is partly determined by the number of prospective students wishing to earn a degree and partly by the number of applications submitted by each prospective student. About two-thirds of full-time, two-year programs, part-time programs and executive programs report that application volume was up. As for full-time, accelerated MBA programs, the application volume was up by 56 percent. Executive MBA programs have experienced the greatest increase in application volume over the last year compared with all previous years.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “...over the next 30 years, a steady increase in educational attainment levels should be observed...” in the U.S. MBA targeted population age 25 and over. Thus, taking into account the growing number of individuals applying and enrolling in MBA schools, and the increasing percentage of individuals in the age groups of 25 to 30, many programs are planning to increase the class size in 2006.

The number of applicants aged 25-30 is expected to increase in the U.S., Canada and France, whereas in Germany, Italy and the UK the selected MBA age group will decrease. For the latter, higher education enrollment might be supplemented with foreign students. The UK hosts 12 percent of the world’s mobile students, Germany hosts 11 percent, and Italy 10 percent. Among countries not reporting declines, the U.S. hosts 23 percent, France hosts 10 percent, and Australia  7 percent of the world’s mobile students.

Among programs in the U.S. the greatest number of foreign applications arrived from India, Taiwan, and China. Non-U.S. programs (in Asia, Central Asia, Canada, Latin America, Europe) received their greatest number of foreign applicants from India, China, and the U.S.

  • Asian students are recruited by 90 percent of non-U.S. programs and 59 percent of U.S. programs.
  • Central Asians are recruited by 52 percent of non-U.S. programs and 26 percent of U.S. programs.
  • Canadian students are recruited by 76 percent of non-U.S. and 23 of U.S. programs
  • Latin Americans are recruited by 81 percent of non-U.S. programs and 50 percent of U.S. programs.
  • Eastern and Central Europeans are recruited by 62 percent of non-U.S. programs and 19 percent of U.S. programs.
  • Western Europeans students are recruited by 86 percent of non-U.S. programs and 38 percent of U.S. programs.

The numbers reported by the 2006 Application Trends Survey indicate that the dire predictions of the demise of graduate management education have gone unrealized. After a few years of slight decline, application volume has significantly rebounded. Many top business schools are reporting that they saw a significant surge in applications in 2005-2006. As of mid-February, Tuck reported that its application volume had increased by about 40 percent over last year. Goizueta also said its application volume was up by about 40 percent, while Haas reported an approximately 30 percent increase.

Kellogg and Sloan reported hearing from admissions offices that higher than expected R2 application volume was having some effect on application processing at those schools. Wharton has indicated a strong stream of applications in Rounds 1 and 2, although admissions officers have also reiterated that there are still class spaces available for strong Round 3 applicants.

The number of GMAT test takers grew by at least 3.9 percent worldwide, within the first five months of 2006, according to the Graduate Management Admissions Council. MBA applications worldwide are expected to increase dramatically in 2007, as candidates gain more confidence in post-MBA employment opportunities. Newly gained confidence in the MBA market is probably the most crucial factor fuelling the application volume.

  • The majority of programs report that application volume increased in the 2006 application cycle when compared with the number of applications received during the 2005 cycle.
  • Nearly twice as many full-time, part-time and executive programs report that female applicant volume is up when compared with 2005 , and 22 percent of full-time programs report that the increase is significant.
  • Over half of executive programs and nearly three-quarters of full-time programs report foreign that applicant volume is up.

Full-time Programs

Nearly two-thirds of full-time programs reported that application volume was up in 2006, which is more that three times the number of programs in 2005 and 2004 that reported increases in applications. 65 percent of schools reported there was an increase in application volume and 11 percent said that the application volume didn't change when compared to the previous year

Part-time Programs

The majority of part-time MBA programs report an increase in application volume, and a fifth of part-time programs report that application volume in 2006 increased significantly.  In 2006, 49 percent of part-time programs reported that the applicants were more qualified than the previous year, and 41 percent reported that they remained the same. 62 percent of schools reported an increase in application volume and 14 percent that it remained the same as in 2005.

Executive Programs

In 2006, the greatest percentage of executive programs reported an increase in applications since GMAC began tracking application volume among executive programs in 2001. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of executive programs reported that application volume in 2006 increased compared with the previous year. About a fifth (19 percent) of executive programs reported that application volume increased significantly.

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