5 Insights from the future MBA Class of 2018

Each year, the GMAC compiles all of the information it’s collected from prospective students. You can read the entire report here, but we’ve picked out a few key trends.

1. The MBA is still king, but other program types are gaining ground

Despite the diverse program offerings, the MBA remains the most desirable option for most students interested in business. More than half of students said that an MBA was the only type of business program they were considering. Non-MBA programs like Master of Accounting and Master of Finance are particularly popular among Asian students. North American students were more likely to consider part-time MBA or online MBA programs.

2. Students are considering fewer programs

According to GMAC research, prospective students begin to develop their short list of preferred schools about nine months before sitting the GMAT exam. However, the number of programs that the average test-taker plans to consider has declined from 2.4 to 2.0. An increasing number of students are narrowing their focus on a single school.

3. The GMAT is going global

More than half of prospective students said they’re looking to go abroad for their degree, up from 40% in 2010. The vast majority of these students are from outside North America. In Asia, over 90% of prospective students said they would like to go abroad.  While 66% of non-American students said that the US is still the most desirable destination, that’s 7% less than in 2010. After the US, the most popular destinations for business degrees were the UK, Canada, France, India, Hong Kong, Germany, Singapore, and the Netherlands in that order. More and more schools outside the US are adding specialized business programs.

4. Younger students are looking for a different experience

The GMAT finds that students under 25 are more likely to cite international employment than their  25+  counterparts. Though they’re less likely to consider online and part-time programs, they’re more likely to be interested in other non-MBA programs like Master of Accounting. In terms of program culture, 36% of students under 25 said that they want a competitive (rather than collaborative) program culture, compared to 30% of those ages 25-30 and 25% of students ages 30+.

5. The way students pay is changing

As you can see from the graph above, an increasing number of students say that they are financing their MBA primarily through parental support. This option is most popular among international students and younger students. Forty-four percent of international students under 25 said that they plan to take advantage of parental help to pay for their graduate degree. Less than 15% of all test-takers said that they would be able to pay for their degree from their personal savings, and 48% said that their graduate business degree required more money than they had available.