In 2021, the volume of applications for graduate business school programs grew 0.4% from the previous year, which has continued the increased demand since the start of the global pandemic in 2020 when business schools around the world experienced an unusually high volume of applications due to lack of economic certainty. This is a key finding from the 2021 Application Trends Survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the global consortium of leading graduate B colleges.
“Candidates have searched for alternative career options during the recession caused by Covid-19, and B schools have introduced more flexible admission policies, which led to an increase in the volume of applications last year,” said Sangeet Chowfla, President and CEO of GMAC. The question was whether this was a transient event due to the pandemic or the start of a new surge in applications. In this context, the 2021 application cycle indicates that the growing demand for graduate business education is not a passing fad but has staying power beyond 2020.”
Majority of MBA Programs Seen Increase in Applications from India: With ease of application processing and closure restrictions, the majority of MBA programs have reported a massive increase in application volume from India. Friendly visa policies, a two-year work visa, and the lifting of lockdown restrictions, as well as a change in perception of the United States under Joe Biden, have been cited as major reasons behind the increase.
Recovery of International Candidates in Top-Rated B Schools: After years of unwelcome immigration policies in parts of the world and months of global travel restrictions due to Covid-19, pent-up demand from international students for graduate B schools was evident in this year’s data.
“B-school learning is experiential and relies heavily on interactions, discussions, and cohort and alumni networks. This is impossible without a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds,” said Katie Montgomery, Associate Dean for Degree Programs at INSEAD and member of the GMAC Board of Directors. Gradually, the diversity he brings into the classroom will only benefit and enrich campus life.”
More MBA programs indicate growth from female applicants: Full-time MBA programs continued to gain traction in 2021. Half of one-year (52%) and two-year (56%) full-time MBA programs reported an increase in applications in 2021. Conversely, professional MBA programs such as the Part-Time MBA, Executive MBA, and Online MBA – geared towards the needs of working professionals – saw their share of those reporting demand growth when Lowest level since 2017.
This year’s application data also indicates that, globally, female candidates emerging from the shadow of the pandemic have refocused on their career aspirations, with three in five (60%) two-year full-time MBA programs reporting an increase in applications from female candidates compared to Two out of five (43%) programs report growth from male candidates. In comparison, a significantly smaller proportion of online MBA programs (42%) reported a growth in applications from female candidates, indicating a preference for women to return to full-time in-person learning.