MBA applications fell for five years in a row until the 2020-2021 admissions cycle. Admission consultants say they’re seeing a significant increase in both interest and applications for the next school year. There was even a surge in late applications, likely driven by people deciding at the last minute to apply to a master’s of business administration program. Let’s look at the hard data that has come in before outlining a few reasons why demand for MBAs is set to be on the rise for the next few years, according to reports.
The Hard Data
According to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s Application Trends Survey, two thirds of graduate business school programs saw an increase in applications for 2020 over 2019 figures. This is in sharp contrast to the five years of declining admissions over the prior five years.
Of full-time MBA programs, nearly 70% saw an increase in applications. Just over a third of these programs said applications were up significantly. The in-demand schools saw applications rise by 20% or more. American schools were the most popular, with three quarters seeing an increase in admissions and 40% of schools reporting 20% more applications than the year before. Half of Asia-Pacific MBA programs reported more applications, but only one in ten business schools saw a 20% or greater rise in applications.
People Have the Time to Attend School
Web traffic to websites about MBA programs spiked 75% to 80% in April 2020, perfectly fitting the timeframe for when government shutdowns were implemented. One MBA admissions consulting firm said that the volume of inquiries about round one MBA deadlines skyrocketed two weeks after the lockdowns started. Demand for counselors to guide them through the MBA application process was up at least 50% over the prior year’s figures.
One reason for this is that those who’ve lost their jobs no longer have to face the opportunity cost of quitting a job to go to school full-time. Others are choosing to pursue a master’s degree in order to improve their career prospects. Many do this so that they can have an option. An MBA opens up new career opportunities and could reduce their odds of being laid off at the end of their furlough.
While the current response to the pandemic is unprecedented, the growth in MBA demand is reasonable, since MBA applications tend be counter-cyclical to the economy.
Online Programs Have Surged
One can argue that there was pent-up demand for online MBA programs prior to the coronavirus crisis. The shift to online schooling has made online MBA programs mainstream. Furthermore, travel restrictions made it impossible for many people to go to the school of their choice. This led to an unusually large enrollment in online programs from students overseas. Additionally, today’s students aren’t put off by the prospect of taking some or all of their classes online.
MBA Programs Teach Skills Necessary to Succeed in Business
One industry study found that 80% of businesses think that they will fall behind if they don’t embrace big data. More importantly, they need experts who can make sense of the data they’re collecting, and who can mine historic data to make accurate predictions for the future.
This had led to demand for Big Data experts, especially for business intelligence MBAs. This is because business intelligence MBA graduate knows how to sort through the masses of information to make the correct, data-driven decisions. That is true whether you’re adjusting a digital marketing campaign or making changes to the production line to improve product quality.
One of the best ways to master business intelligence or BI is to earn an MBA dedicated to the subject. The certification may be just what you need to become a data analyst or a business analyst; these are both well-paid positions. Better yet, demand for data analysts is expected to grow 22% over the next few years. If you want to learn more about the benefits of a business intelligence MBA, click here.
The Political Sea Change Helps American Universities
The 2020-2021 school year a saw a spike in admissions from foreign students who expected a political change in the United States to make it easier to come to the country to study and work. Data suggests many of these foreign students had taken advantage of deferral options.
The GMAC study found that the median deferral rate for MBA programs was 8%. For schools in the 75th percentile, it was 15%. For comparison, the median deferral rate for the prior year was 3%, and the 75th percentile deferral rate was 6%.
Deferral rates were high across the board, but they were highest for international students. Domestic students had a deferral rate of 5%, while international students had a deferral rate of 15%. Deferred students have a reserved seat when they choose to come to campus. This will result in more competition for new applicants. Some schools are opening up more sections to absorb deferrals from the prior year while serving this year’s applicants as well.
However, international inquiries are higher, too. This suggests that many foreign students are now willing to apply to business school for the first time.
Top MBA Programs Continue to Be Seen as Worth the Investment
Uncertainty and the volatile job market are leading many to invest in their education, and many of these applicants are choosing name brand schools. Experts predicted an increase in applications to the top 20 MBA programs of more than 50%. Admission counselors think that the 2020-2021 school year will be record-breaking for most business schools, and the data to date suggests that is exactly what is happening.
MBA programs almost everywhere are seeing a spike in demand for a variety of reasons. Yet the main reason why people earn an MBA remains the same; it can be a great investment in your career, if you choose the correct school and the right program.