White collar, blue collar, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Democrat, Conservative, Liberal, Sheikh, Slumdog Millionaire, white, black, General Manager, CEO, accountant... Who are the MBA applicants? Demand for good business education is steadily growing, as demonstrated by GMAC’s statistics. Competition to go to well-ranked business schools is huge and global. The Access MBA Tour shares with you its candidate profiles from various regions of the world.

Western Europe

The common European market stimulated many companies to open operations in new member states. This called for managers who were better aware of the cultural specifics of doing business there. There is a solid trend for Western Europeans to look for programmes in developing economies, rather than in their own countries. Therefore, many European universities, primarily based in the UK, France, Spainр and Italy, offer well-positioned and pan-European and global management programmes. Candidates from the region are well experienced and more mature than in Eastern Europe. Their motivation is mainly to develop their career more internationally and grow in the companies they work for.


Over 50% of candidates are aged over 30
UK has 78 of the 450 European MBA programmes
A lot of people of international origin – 71% (Brussels, London)
Part-time and Executive programmes in demand
Preferred destinations – UK, US, France, Canada, and Asia
Having managerial experience – up to 77% (London)

Central and Eastern Europe

The new and still developing EU member states as well as prospective members like Turkey and Ukraine are characterised by extensive foreign investments as well as many recently privatised industry-shaping companies. Candidates there are very well educated as evident from the high GMAT scores they submit. They are very well informed about the added value of the MBA and aim for the best quality they can afford. Many of them obtain additional funding and scholarships with their outstanding exam results. Getting a recognised diploma and starting an international career with relocation are among the priorities of prospective MBA students from the region.


One of the excellent GMAT mean scores – 572 (Bulgaria)
Full-time programmes abroad are in demand
Top destinations – UK, US, France, Germany, Spain, Canada, Switzerland
Many female MBA applicants – 61% (Romania)
Younger candidates – about 40% are between 25 and 30

Middle East

The region can be divided in two sub-regions – oil-rich and oil-poor countries. The oil-rich countries are characterised by candidates of primarily international origin – many from India and the Asia-Pacific region. Many of them prefer to study at the local branches of the many international business schools based in the region and therefore, demand for local schools is high. Prospective MBA students from Northern African countries are less internationally diverse but share the location preferences of the previous sub-group. International careers and better positions in global companies operating on the market are the primary motivation factors for business professionals from the Middle East.


Predominantly male candidates – 92% (Saudi Arabia)
Many candidates of international origin – up to 94% (Dubai)
High managerial experience – over 50% on average
Local programmes by global schools are in demand
Preferred locations to go abroad – US, UK, Canada, Australia, France

Central Asia

Access MBA Tour destinations in this region include Russia, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan. Candidates there are demanding and need more individual attention in order to identify the most appropriate programmes for them. Many of them have substantial budgets for MBA education. There are many candidates with experience in the energy and industrial sectors as there are many companies dealing with the distribution of the natural resources which shape the economy of those countries. Motivation to study is quite diverse, but international companies do attract many graduates. Many entrepreneurs from the region also opt for an MBA abroad as well as people aiming to work outside their homeland.


High MBA budgets (EUR 50-100k) – 46% (Moscow)
Full-time programmes abroad are in demand
Relatively young – 50% on average between 25 and 30
Preferred locations – US, UK, France, Germany, Canada
Even male:female ratio – 48:52 (Almaty)

North America

On the home continent of the MBA degree, candidate priorities and preferences differ notably from the rest of the world. Employers are well informed of the added value of business education and generously appreciate the effort and investment people put in to obtaining a degree from a well-ranked school. On the other hand, the recent economic situation imposed a need for a different managerial approach which subsequently led to many managers and executives heading back to the classrooms to set their watches with peers and academics. There is an interesting trend for Americans and Canadians to look for MBAs that involve exposure to developing economies in Asia and Latin America.


The largest number of business schools – over 1,400
Local full-time programmes are most preferred – up to 88% (New York)
Stable demand for European MBAs – UK, France, Spain, and developing countries in Asia
Very high managerial experience – up to 72% (Montreal)

Latin America

Latin America unites the Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries in Central and South America. The Access MBA Tour stops in Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Peru, and Brazil. All the booming economies in these countries have a high demand for MBA programmes abroad, mainly to work in the many multinational companies there and create companies of their own. They are primarily interested in US schools as well as European schools in Spain, Portugal, and the UK.


Popular destinations – US, UK, Spain, France, Canada, and Australia
Young but very experienced candidates – 71% managerial experience (Santiago)
40% on average can spend EUR 50 to 100k on an MBA
Over 80% look for a full-time programme, most of them abroad
Mean GMAT scores – 541

East Asia

India and China stand out here as regions of massive population but also as the biggest supply centre of international students worldwide. UNESCO data (Global Education Digest 2012) shows that the two most populous countries send a huge number of 763,510 students abroad for education, which is 21.4 % of students studying abroad. A distinctive feature of those prospective students is that they prefer to do their MBA either in the US or somewhere in Asia. South Asia is more open to European MBAs. Most of the Asian candidates pursue a business degree to obtain the knowledge and skills to occupy managerial positions in the many multinational and large national corporations operating in their countries. Indians are more oriented toward entrepreneurship.


Preferred destinations – US, UK, France, Canada, and Australia
40% of the Chinese prefer to go for a local MBA
Young candidates – 60% on average are between 25 and 30
Highly experienced managers – up to 73% (Shanghai)
High MBA budgets – up to 49% can spend over EUR 50k (Mumbai)

With 247,432 candidates taking the GMAT exam in the testing year 2015, business school education continues to be in strong demand. Although in 2012 the test-takers were more, 2015 remains stronger than 2014 and 2013, according to GMAC’s Profile of GMAT candidates. On average, 46% of Access MBA event attendees are aged 26-30, 28% are aged 31-35, and the rest are 36 and above. 51% have between three and nine years of experience, whilst 55% occupy managerial positions in the companies they work for. Over 20,000 candidates trust Access MBA’s professional consultants to orientate them towards the best MBA for them and enable them to meet personally with school representatives in 65 venues each year throughout the world.