There is a noticeable decline this year in the application volumes reported by MBA programs that serve working professionals, according to a new report published today (Sept. 22) by the Graduate Management Admission Council. This year is the first time since 2009 that the majority of both part-time MBA (53%) and executive MBA (51%) programs reported declining volumes. Meantime, one-quarter of part-time and online MBA programs reported receiving fewer applications for the 2013–2014 incoming class than seats available.
Intensifying demands on employees’ time and competition among an increasing number of alternative program types may have contributed to declines in applications for professional MBA programs, even though schools expect applicants to receive continued levels of financial support from employers, GMAC said.
The fall is in direct contrast to what’s going on in the two-year, full-time MBA market in the U.S. where a majority of programs (52%) reported increased application volumes for the incoming 2013-2014 class, a 20% rise over last year in the share of programs reporting volume growth. Increased numbers of foreign candidates appear to be driving growth for U.S. full-time MBA programs, as 56% reported growing application volumes from foreign candidates this year
A FIVE-YEAR SOFTENING OF APPLICATIONS IN PROFESSIONAL MBA PROGRAMS
For the past five years, the 2013 Application Trends Survey found, there has been a softening in application volumes for a category of MBA programs that can be classified as “professional” MBA programs. Even so, the bulk of flexible (51%) part-time (47%) and executive (49%) MBA programs reported increased or stable application volumes for the incoming class compared with 2012.
Change in Application Volume for Professional MBA Programs
The most dramatic drop in applicant volume, when comparing across the spectrum of professional MBA programs, occurred with executive MBA programs. More than half (51%) of executive MBA programs received fewer applications this year than they did in 2012. In addition, fewer than a third (31%) of these programs reported increased volumes.
The pattern of declining application volumes for the group of professional MBA programs reflects data analyzed over the past four years from GMAC prospective student surveys that have shown declining student interest in earning degrees from professional MBA programs.
The majority of professional MBA programs saw a decline in applications regardless of world region GMAC found. When asked, however, 67% of respondents from professional MBA programs said they expect employer funding levels to remain the same as those seen in 2012.