Demand for professional MBA programs this year remains stagnant, much as it has over the past several years, the Graduate Management Admission Council said yesterday (Sept. 29). Surprisingly, perhaps, demand for the growing number of online MBA programs appears to be falling with a majority of schools reporting a decline in applicants.
46% OF SCHOOLS REPORT FALL IN EMBA APPS
As expected, business school’s with part-time MBA programs have been fit hardest. Last year, a majority (53%) of part-time MBA programs reported declining application volume and 29% of programs reported increases compared with 2012. In 2014, 54% of programs are still seeing declining volume; however 44% report increased volume compared with 2013, when less than a third of programs saw increases.
GMAC said that a number of this year’s survey respondents representing part-time MBA programs commented on reasons for the lackluster trends seen in the past few years, noting what they saw as “increased competition from other blended and online degree programs.” Some cited the slightly stronger economy, especially in the United States. As observed by one participant from a self-paced part-time MBA program in the United States that saw volume declines this year, “people [are] devoting more time to jobs.”
APPLICANTS TO EXECUTIVE MBA PROGRAMS ‘STABLE’
More than half (54%) of executive MBA programs report stable (9%) or increased (45%) application volume this year compared with 2013, GMAC said. Changes in volume differ by world regions, however; the majority of US-based programs report declining volume (58%) and 39% report increases. The percentage of European programs reporting either increased or decreased volume are split evenly: 40% report increased application volume and 40% report declining numbers.
50% OF SCHOOLS REPORT DECLINES IN ONLINE MBA PROGRAMS
In recent years, many business schools have added online MBA degree programs to their portfolios. The increased competition appears to be having an impact on the schools that responded to the GMAC survey on application trends. Half of U.S. online MBA programs, GMAC said, report declining applicant volume in comparison with 43% that reported declines last year. Similar to 2013, 43% of U.S. online programs report increasing application volumes this year. In 2014, men account for the majority of online applicants (62%); although half of responding programs report a decline in volume this year from this subgroup. Conversely, 50% of programs report receiving more applications from women, who account for 38%.
GMAC also provided data on the amount of work experience candidates bring to various professional MBA programs. Executive MBA programs have the most experienced MBA candidates, with 94% having six or more years. The work experience for online MBA applicants appears to be most similar to those applying to part-time MBA programs, according to GMAC, although more than one third (37%) have ten years or more of prior work experience (see below).
DISTRIBUTION OF WORK EXPERIENCE FOR PROFESSIONAL MBA PROGRAMS