The MBA colleges in the United States faced a nearly 7 per cent decline, including a 1.8 per cent dip in domestic application volume, and a 10.5 per cent drop in international volume across all program types. However, the numbers have gone up for Asia-Pacific, Canada and European regions, as per the annual application trends survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council.
The survey revealed the overall demand for graduate management education is stable in 2018 as compared with 2017. In the B-schools program types — including MBA, business master’s and PhD programmes — most in Asia-Pacific, Canada and Europe received more applications than last year. The growth in the Canadian and European regions is due to the increase in international applications, while domestic growth is fuelling an increase in Asia-Pacific.
Regionally, strong growth in application volume across all program types was offset by declines in the United States. The programmes in Asia-Pacific had an 8.9 per cent increase, Canada at 7.7 per cent growth and Europe had a 3.2 per cent increase in application demand across all programme types.
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Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC president and CEO said, “Non-US programs continue to thrive, highlighting the continued emergence of enhanced educational and professional opportunities outside the United States.”
Several factors can help explain the lag in the US business school demand. “A low unemployment rate means young professionals have an increased opportunity cost of leaving their jobs in pursuit of an advanced degree. Combined with a disruptive American political environment and the emergence over the past decade of tremendous educational and professional opportunities abroad, one can begin to understand in part why demand in the United States has dropped from previously record-high application volumes at some schools,” Chowfla said.
The ability to attract top international talent continues to be a critical determinant to programs’ overall application volumes. This year, 65 per cent of Canadian programs and 63 per cent of European programs report an increase in international applications over 2017. The majority of applications received by Canadian and European programmes this year are from international applicants.
“Access is a critical issue facing higher education,” said Bill Boulding, dean of Duke University’s Fuqua School and chairperson of the GMAC board of directors. “Economic indicators in the US are strong, but if we are to maintain such growth and productivity we need to make it possible for people from all different regions and backgrounds to study and work in the location they desire,” he said.
Full-time, two-year MBA programs are still the most in-demand program type. Overall, MBA and business master’s programs report a similar volume of applications in 2018 compared with last year.