An article published by the Wall Street Journal reports an increase in the number of applications to the top U.S. MBA programs from last year. The data show that Harvard recorded a relatively high 9,543 applications to its MBA program beginning in 2014, an increase of 2.4% since last year. Berkeley listed an increase of 3.7% and Duke showed a significant increase of 9.6% in its number of applications.
The increase in applications is explained by a number of factors. First, the improvement in the economy gives applicants the confidence that they will succeed in finding a job upon graduation. Second, schools are investing effort in marketing to and recruiting candidates from around the world. This combined with a slightly easier application process in recent years lead to an increase in applicants. For example, UNC efforts to recruit international applicants and emphasizes to them the school’s exceptional employment data for its international students. The school showed an increase of 44% in the number of applications from outside the U.S., which accounted for more than half of its overall applications and contributed to an overall increase of 28% in applications. There are a number of schools that did not report an increase- Darden and Yale showed decreases in the number of applications for this year.
It is important to note that while a higher number of applications is flattering to a school and helps it appear more selective, it also makes it harder for the program to predict which of the accepted applicants will actually matriculate. This affects the school’s yield data, critical to a school’s prestige. A number of programs aim to solve this problem by offering scholarships to accepted candidates.
In addition to recruitment efforts, MBA programs have been making the application process simpler, requiring less essays and recommendations.