Prestigious MBA programmes receive less applications

Applications to MBA programmes in the U.S. are declining with even the top schools reporting drops in application numbers. Harvard, Stanford and MIT reported less applications than in previous years as more international students find options in Europe, Canada and Asia.


Applications to MBA programmes across the U.S. are in decline according to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) 2019 Application Trends Survey Report. This is mainly due to less international students applying as interest dropped down by 13.7 per cent for graduate programmes at US business schools for the 2019-2020 academic year.

The percentage of international applicants that said the U.S. was their preferred study destination fell from 44 per cent in 2017, to 37 per cent in the first half of 2019.

Reasons for this decline are varied: On the one hand side European programmes have become very competitive enticing students to stay on home ground or closer to their home country whilst on the other hand changes to immigration policies and political tensions between the U.S. and China have scared applicants away.

When those who had considered the U.S. in the past were asked why they did not plan to apply anymore, 50 per cent of candidates said the ability to obtain a job in the United States post-graduation was a deciding factor. 48 per cent named the ability to obtain a student visa, 47 per cent blamed the political environment, 37 per cent cited safety and security concerns, and 34 per cent racism and discrimination concerns.

The declines did not only affect the more affordable and achievable schools but also the sought after top-rated programmes at Harvard University, Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Overall the report looked at 1,145 MBA and master's programmes from 336 business schools across 40 countries. Of those surveyed in the U.S., 48 per cent reported a drop in international applications whilst 23 per cent reported significant declines. The only positive development was visible in STEM-certified US programmes according to GMAC. These were more likely to report growth in international applications.


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