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Two-Year MBA Applications on the Rise

Participating top MBA programs have reported an overall increase in 2014 MBA applications to full-time, two-year programs, according to a recently released survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

This trend corresponds to a slow but steady trend of economic improvement for power countries including the United States, which has shown incremental job growth over the past eight months. (Image Source: GMAC)

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By the Numbers

  • 61% of the two-year MBA programs surveyed reported an increase in MBA applications for the 2014 cycle. (as opposed to 50% last year)
  • 35% of the two-year programs surveyed reported a decline in MBA applications, while 4% reported no change. (as opposed to 46% last year)
  • 65% of the U.S. MBA programs surveyed reported an increase in international MBA applications.
  • Approximately 60% of one-year MBA programs surveyed reported a decline in applications

MBA Applications

Key Takeaways:

  • Economic Confidence: A double-digit application increase for traditional two-year MBA programs indicates some increase in MBA applicants’ confidence in the global economy. More applicants feel more comfortable taking two years off of work to invest heavily in their future career, trusting that a job will be available when they return to the workforce. It would seem that we are finally shaking off the residue of a lengthy recession.
  • The Value of the Internship (and other two-year offerings): With a large majority of one-year MBA programs reporting a decline in MBA applications, it seems that an increasing number of MBA applicants are placing more value in two-year program offerings, including the summer internship. MBA summer internships offer students a chance to try new industries and, in some cases, directly correlate with job offers. Many one-year programs do not offer the same internship opportunities, and this could be a cause of concern for some applicants.
  • Opportunities for International Growth: According to these statistics, international applicants are increasingly turning to the U.S. to seek an elite MBA degree. While this bodes well for the diversity of U.S. MBA classes, it also reveals a gap in MBA education, and an opportunity for growth in many countries. I expect to see more international programs improve their offerings to attract students who are currently looking towards the U.S. This is particularly true of Asia and South America, where more elite MBA programs are needed to serve local students.

Conclusion

It’s too early to predict a sweeping rise in two-year MBA applications, but these numbers could be the start of a positive upward trend that would be reassuring for both MBA institutions and the larger economic recovery. Look for international programs (or branches of top U.S. programs) to begin filling in gaps around the globe, and expect one-year MBA programs to try a few new innovations to attract more MBA applications next year.

 

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