GMAC’s annual survey published last week highlights an increase in the number of applications submitted this year at 61% of participating two-year full-time MBA programs. This is the third year in a row that the demand for MBA programs increased, after 50% of schools reported an increase in 2013, and 43% in 2012. About 35% of programs reported a decrease in applications this year and 4% showed no change.
The last time that a majority of programs reported an increase in applications was in 2009, and till now there has hovered the concern that full-time MBA programs are losing their power and prestige compared with other graduate programs and online programs. This year actually showed a decrease in applications to full-time one-year MBA programs at 60% of schools, and also a decrease in demand for Master’s of Finance programs at 59% of schools and Master’s in Management programs at 39% of schools.
Another factor revealed by the survey is the growth in number of students who prefer to study outside their native countries. Since 2012, a significant portion of the growth in demand for full-time two-year MBA programs in the U.S. stemmed from an increase in demand among international students. Sixty-five percent of the U.S. programs reported an increase in applications from international students, mainly from China and India.
In terms of the demand of U.S. candidates for U.S. MBA programs, 48% of programs reported an increase in applications from U.S. candidates, while 44% reported a decrease. In general, most of the applications to one-year and two-year programs in the world came from international students – 56% of one-year programs and 52% of two-year.
One explanation for the increase in demand for MBA programs is the improved global economy that causes an increase in employers’ demand for MBA graduates, causing the MBA degree to be more worthwhile.