Business schools are reporting a resurgence in applications for MBAs after four years, according to the Association of MBAs (AMBA). Applications for AMBA-accredited MBA programs rose by 5% in the year to 2015, compared with a 14% drop over the previous four years.
But competition remains tough, with enrollments remaining static or even falling in some regions, despite the increase in interest.
The figures, contained in AMBA’s annual Application and Enrollment Report, cover 218 business schools across six continents and suggest that confidence in the MBA is returning.
Applications reached record highs in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, as a wave of redundancies saw banking and consultancy executives try to widen their skill base.
But as western economies came out of recession applications started to drop, with AMBA reporting successive annual fall from 2011.
Coupled with an increase in applications for specialist masters programs, the drop had led to fears that the generalist MBA was in terminal decline. This week’s figures suggest the MBA has not yet had its chips.
Business schools in Western Europe reported that applications rose 29% between 2011 and 2015.
Worldwide enrollments over the same period have fallen by 13%, and remained static from 2014 to 2015, suggesting that competition to get onto an accredited program is fierce.
International students remain a major target market for business schools, particularly in the West. North America has the higher proportion of international applicants, at 72%, with the U.K. just behind at 71% and Western Europe at 58%. The lowest is in China and India with 2% and 1% respectively.
The highest number of overseas-based enrollments were in North America, with 60%, and the U.K., with 59%.
While part-time study is the most popular form of program, there are regional variations. In the U.K. 69% of programs are full-time, compared with 73% part-time in Latin America.
“Broadly speaking, Asian markets are growing and maturing, and becoming increasingly sophisticated, demanding and competitive,” said Professor Patrick Butler, MBA program director at Monash Business School in Melbourne.
For more information, please see Forbes