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AIGAC’s 2017 MBA Applicant Survey

The Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants has released the results of their 2017 MBA Applicant Survey. The survey contains a range of insights into how applicants typically approach the business school application process and what sources they tend to rely on in researching schools.

Among other things, the results show that while applicants are getting information online at rates higher than ever before, they place a premium on personalized, human interactions with schools – a situation that AIGAC dubs the “millennial paradox.” 


AIGAC’s survey included 2,868 participants who intend to enroll in B-school by 2018. Overall, the results show that school websites are the go-to source for getting information from B-schools, used by 86 percent of applicants.

The second most popular resource is current MBA students themselves, with 70 percent of applicants getting information this way.

Fifty-one percent of applicants take advantage of online information sessions, and slightly less than half of applicants attend on-campus and off-campus info sessions, at 45 and 43 percent respectively. 

When it comes time to actually choosing a school, applicants are especially attentive to a given school’s reputation. In total, 55 percent of applicants said school reputation was among the most important factors in their choice, and 54 percent said school ranking was important. 

School culture and location were the next most commonly considered, each listed by 41 percent of applicants as among the most important factors in choosing a school. Those were followed by career impact, deemed important by 33 percent. 

The survey also included data on which rankings are most influential among applicants. It turned out that for U.S. applicants, U.S. News & World Report carried the most weight in evaluating schools’ reputations, followed by Poets & Quants. 

Among international applicants, Financial Times was the most influential, followed by U.S. News. 

Of course, applicants use a variety of other sources of information as they go through the application process. The most valued source of information in navigating the admissions process was online communities, used by 40 percent of applicants. 

However, online communities were followed narrowly by admissions consultants and friends/family/colleagues, each of which 38 percent of applicants cited as a valuable source of information. 

In their interactions with schools, students valued the personal touch. Of all the sources of information offered by schools, current MBA students were considered the most useful, valued by 45 percent of applicants. 

And students appreciated it when schools made an effort to connect on a personal level. Overall, students cited ESADE, Vanderbilt, Tuck, IE and Fuqua as the schools that made the most effort to get to know them. 

These findings led AIGAC to conclude that today’s applicants “love the immediacy of information available in today’s digital world, yet they also place a high importance on personal attention and human connection.” For more information, see the complete survey results.