Saturday, April 27, 2019

For This Year’s MBA Admits, It’s A Buyer’s Market

Applications to MBA Programs at many of the highest ranked business schools are down again this year, even as scholarship awards for admits and starting salaries for MBA graduates are at record levels.

Most schools closed off their third and final application rounds earlier this month with drops in application volume ranging between 5% and double digits.

The decline, moreover, is on top of last year’s plunge in applications which hit the top-ranked schools for the first time. What does it all mean for this year’s crop of MBA applicants? To put it simply, It’s a buyers’ market.

Well qualified applicants are racking up more admit offers than normal and more scholarship dollars are flowing to entice admits to take up those offers than ever before. 

  • This year’s drop, moreover, is the second consecutive year of down numbers for even the highest ranked MBA programs. 
  • Last year, the so-called M7 schools, which include those three plus Booth, Kellogg, MIT Sloan, and Columbia, saw a combined 4.7% drop. Hardest hit for the 2017-2018 admissions cycle? Chicago Booth which saw an application falloff of 8.7%.
  • Schools ranked from tenth to 25th suffered twice the decline in MBA applications in 2017-2018 than those in the Top Ten. All together, the Top Ten MBA programs experienced a 4.9% fall in applications; the next 15 ranked business schools saw their applications decline by 9.7%
In all, 70% of U.S. business schools reported declines in their MBA applications last year, according to a survey of the schools by the Graduate Management Admission Council. According to GMAC, U.S. business schools experienced a nearly 7% decline in app volume, including a 1.8% decline in domestic applications and a 10.5% drop in international volume across all program types.

The decline in applicant volumes will certainly lead to higher admit rates at most schools, but at least for us, the pool is deep enough that we feel reasonably confident about maintaining quality. 

There are many reasons for the continued decline in applications to MBA programs, ranging from a strong economy which keeps people in their current jobs to the rising price tags on many MBA programs with little transparency over the discounts in tuition through scholarships.

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