Stable Market for Business Grads

International applications are up, but U.S. applications are down.

Demand for graduate management education was stable in 2018 compared with 2017, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s annual Application Trends Survey, which was released last fall.

Applications to MBA, business master’s, and PhD programs increased by 8.9 percent in the Asia-Pacific region; by 7.7 percent in Canada; and by 3.2 percent in Europe.

International applications largely fueled the growth in Canada and Europe, while domestic applications drove the growth in the Asia-Pacific.

A decline in international application volume in the U.S. could be driven by the political environment and the emergence of opportunities abroad.

At the same time, the United States experienced a nearly 7 percent decline, including a 1.8 percent decline in domestic application volume and a 10.5 percent drop in international volume across all programs. One reason for the decrease might be low unemployment in the U.S., says Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC president and CEO. He notes that “young professionals have an increased opportunity cost of leaving their jobs in pursuit of an advanced degree.” Other factors could be “a disruptive American political environment and the emergence over the past decade of tremendous educational and professional opportunities abroad.”

The survey also found that the full-time, two-year MBA is still the most popular program, attracting a similar volume of applications in 2017 and 2018. In Europe, most master in management and master of finance programs reported greater demand. In the U.S., most master of data analytics programs reported more growth in international applications than in domestic applications in 2018.

Conducted last summer, the survey was based on responses from 1,087 graduate business programs at 363 universities in 44 countries. The participating programs received a combined total of 466,112 applications during the 2018 application cycle.