New survey: Business Master’s doesn’t substitute for an MBA

Three in four prospective graduate business school candidates who hold a prior master’s degree are considering enrolling in MBA programmes, according to new research from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). GMAC administers the GMAT, one of the accepted entrance exams for business schools worldwide. 

Findings from the Council’s 2017 Prospective Students Survey Report show that the MBA remains the predominant programme format considered by candidates with both prior business master’s degrees (61 per cent) and non-business master’s degrees (86 per cent).

“These findings demonstrate that a business master’s degree is not necessarily the end of graduates’ business education,” said Sangeet Chowfla, president and CEO of GMAC. “For many, their business master’s degree is a stepping stone to continued professional development that may include an MBA down the road, in either a full-time or part-time format.”

The findings of the Prospective Students Survey Report show that globally 22 per cent of prospective business school candidates have a prior master’s degree, with considerable regional variation. While two in five European candidates have a prior master’s-level credential, the same is true of just 14 per cent of U.S. candidates.

In general, fuelled by growing  candidate demand, non-MBA business master’s programmes continue to proliferate. Globally, the percentage of candidates considering only business master’s degrees  ­– such as Master of Finance, Master of Accounting, and Master in Management — – has increased from 15 per cent in 2009 to 23 per cent in 2016. This rise in interest has been particularly strong among candidates from East and Southeast Asia and Western Europe, where now more than 2 in 5 candidates report considering only these programme types. 

Non-MBA programmes and MBA programmes attract distinct candidate pools seeking different outcomes. Candidates considering non-MBA business master’s programmes skew younger and the majority have little to no prior work experience. Compared with MBA candidates, individuals preferring business master’s programmes are more interested in developing their technical skills. MBA candidates are typically older, have more years of work experience, and are more interested in developing their managerial and leadership skills.

Analysis in the 2017 Prospective Students Survey Report is based on survey responses provided by 11,617 individuals who registered on between February and December 2016.

Barbara Barkhausen
Picture: adiruch na chiangmai / fotolia

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