2015 Application Trends Survey by GMAC

Praveen Mamgain updated on : 05 Jan 2016

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) releases the findings of its 2015 Application Trends Survey

GMAC survey

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) had released the findings of its 2015 Application Trends Survey, which show the majority of full-time MBA programs — in both two-year and one-year formats — report increases in application volume compared with last year and 10 years ago.

Among full-time two-year MBA programs, 57 percent report increased application volume this year. For full-time one-year programs, 2015 marks a notable improvement: 51 percent of programs report application volume increases, compared with just 37 percent that reported growth last year. Both program formats are performing better compared with 10 years ago — 60 percent of full-time two-year and 53 percent of full-time one-year MBA programs indicate they received more applications this year than in 2005.

“This is positive news and reflects a strong full-time MBA market,” said Bob Alig, GMAC’s executive vice president for school products. “The full-time MBA continues to be a sought after credential because graduates consistently see a high return on their investment — not only in terms of earnings, but also in job satisfaction and personal fulfillment.”

The findings from GMAC’s 16th annual Application Trends Survey show a positive turnaround in the domestic market for U.S.-based, full-time two-year MBA programs, as a majority (59 percent) report year-on-year domestic application growth — a level not attained since 2009. Domestic candidates still account for less than half of the applicant pool for these U.S. MBA programs — 45 percent in 2015. 

This year’s report also reveals that the representation of women in program applicant pools has increased 3 to 8 percentage points over the last five years for all program types analyzed in the report, with the lone exception of Master of Accounting, which continues to maintain its majority level of female representation (57 percent). More than half of the following program formats report growing application volume for women in 2015: full-time two-year MBA (51 percent of programs), full-time one-year MBA (50 percent), executive MBA (50 percent), online MBA (55 percent), Master in Management (55 percent), Master of Finance (56 percent), and Master of Marketing and Communications (60 percent).

 “GMAC is pleased to see that business schools’ efforts to increase the number of applications from women seem to be succeeding,” said Alig. The report shows that targeted outreach for women candidates is conducted by 67 percent of full-time two-year MBA programs, 41 percent of part-time MBA programs, and 51 percent of executive MBA programs.

Regional Trends

  • European-based full-time one-year MBA programs rebounded in 2015 after two years of stagnant volume. The majority (67 percent) report year-on-year application volume growth, compared with 38 percent reporting the same the last two years. This uptick can be attributed largely to increased demand from international applicants (63 percent of programs report increases compared with last year).
  • For the Asia-Pacific region, full-time two-year MBA programs are performing exceedingly well — 90 percent report increases in volume. Sixty percent of full-time one-year MBA programs, on the other hand, report decreases in volume. These Asia-Pacific programs are unique within the full-time MBA market in that the majority of applicants are coming from within the region. 

Additional Trends

  • Overall, a greater share of online and flexible MBA programs report year-on-year application volume growth compared with part-time and executive MBA programs. This trend may be related to survey findings that indicate shifts in employer tuition assistance programs. This year, both part-time and executive MBA programs expect fewer incoming students to have employer financial backing, whereas online MBA programs expect that a growing share of students will receive funding.
  • For specialized business master’s programs, more report application volume increases than decreases among Master in Finance, Master in Management, and Master in Marketing and Communications programs. Among Master of Accounting programs, however, 40 percent report increases versus 47 percent reporting decreases.
  • The majority of U.S.-based graduate management programs show stable or growing application volume from underrepresented populations. For example, 63 percent of full-time two-year MBA programs report stable (15 percent) or increasing (48 percent) application volume for this group. 

Recruiting the Ideal Graduate Management Candidate

  • When asked to describe the ideal business school candidate, survey respondents from all program types were asked to list three adjectives; frequently used words included “motivated,” “driven,” “passionate,” and “ambitious.”
  • Full-time MBA programs cite the ability to collaborate as being very important; part-time MBA programs value work experience, while specialized business master’s programs look for academic and analytical skills.
  • In evaluating applicants, programs generally weigh academic transcripts, standardized exam scores, and interviews the most heavily in their admissions decisions. 

Data for the 2015 Application Trends Survey were collected from a total of 641 graduate business programs located at 306 universities worldwide. 

                                                                              

 

About GMAC: The Graduate Management Admission Council (gmac.com) is a nonprofit education organization of leading graduate business schools and owner of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT exam), now celebrating its 60th year and used by more than 6,000 graduate business and management programs worldwide. GMAC is based in Reston, Virginia, and has regional offices in London, New Delhi and Hong Kong. The GMAT exam -- the only standardized test designed expressly for graduate business and management programs worldwide -- is continuously available at approximately 600 test centers in 113 countries. More information about the GMAT exam is available at mba.com. For more information about GMAC and additional resources for media, please visit gmac.com/newscenter.

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