MBA Admissions

Even Elite U.S. MBA Programs Experience Application Drop as International Students Look to Study Elsewhere

Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that even elite U.S. MBA programs experienced a steep drop in the number of applications they received in the 2018-2019 admissions cycle compared to the year before. The business schools at Dartmouth, Yale, Northwestern, and Duke each reported double-digit percentage drops in applications compared to the prior year, and even the most prestigious programs such as Harvard, MIT, Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia were affected. The declines continue the downward trend for the MBA. The Wall Street Journal also reported new data from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), which shows application numbers falling for the fifth straight year. The admissions cycle that ended in the spring of this year garnered 135,096 applications for programs including the MBA; a total year-over-year decrease of 9.1 percent, which is larger than the previous year’s decline of 7 percent.

Though the declining applications are attributed to many factors, of primary concern is the perceived change in environment for international students and immigrants. Currently, in the U.S., 85,000 H-1B visas are issued annually to highly-skilled workers via lottery with the demand far exceeding the supply. According to the Wall Street Journal, under the Trump Administration, there have been an increasing number of requests for H-1B visa applicants to provide supplemental information and many are still being declined.  Prospective students’ concerns about the availability of work visas post-graduation are impacting their school selection. The Wall Street Journal quotes Matthew J. Slaughter, dean of the Tuck School at Dartmouth: “A lot of individuals, a lot of terrific international applicants, they’re choosing not to apply to any U.S. schools,” he said.  

This is evident in the 13.7 percent decline in international applications seen this year for U.S. programs. According to a GMAC report released last week, Early Warning Signals: Winners and Losers in the Global Race for Talent, the U.S. experienced, “a steeper decline than any other country in the world, and a drop that came amidst largely rising or stable applications everywhere else in the world.” Both Canada and Europe reported increases in the number of international applicants in 2019. And Chinese business schools reported a 5.2 percent increase in applicant numbers, though it was driven primarily by domestic demand. While China still sends the largest number of business school students abroad, Chinese applicants are increasingly opting to attend school in Asia.

The GMAC report highlights the changes in international demand for U.S. business programs as a leading indicator for international talent mobility, suggesting that while business schools may be experiencing the negative effects now, the U.S. workforce may suffer losses in talent and productivity in future years. The report states, “Indeed, immigrants play an outsized role in innovation and entrepreneurial activity. According to a Brookings Institution study, ‘…while immigrants represent about 15 percent of the general US workforce, they account for around a quarter of entrepreneurs and a quarter of inventors in the US. Moreover, over a third of new firms have at least one immigrant entrepreneur in its initial leadership team.’ For startup firms valued at $1 billion or more, in particular, immigrants have started more than half, and they play key management and product development roles in more than 80 percent of these companies.”

The GMAC report goes on to recommend policies that the U.S. can adopt to safeguard its talent pipeline in future years, while also bolstering international applicants to U.S. business schools. These include updating the visa regulations by removing “per-country” visa caps and reforming the H-1B visa program, as well as creating a “Heartland Visa,” which encourages immigration into regions of the country that could most benefit from injections of talented individuals. Fifty business school deans and 13 CEOs have signed an accompanying open letter that endorses the policy recommendations of the GMAC report and, more broadly, calls for a change in the U.S. approach to high-skilled immigration. Bill Boulding, dean of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, while expressing optimism about the future of U.S. business schools to the Wall Street Journal, notes that schools will need to continue to change to address the current environmental challenges. “The pipeline of talent to the U.S. is being diverted elsewhere. We see a pattern that is really alarming,” Boulding said. 

Business Schools Seek to Reinvigorate the MBA Using More Personalized Degree and Course Offerings

Just as the decline in the number of applicants to two-year, traditional MBA programs has spurred changes in the MBA delivery model, it has also incited innovation within graduate business school curriculums. Administrators and educators are working hard to ensure the MBA remains relevant to prospective students and employers alike. An article published earlier this year on EducationDive.com, identified key trends within the MBA. In addition to changing program formats (increased use of online, flexible, and part-time programs) and an increase in shorter, specialized graduate management education programs, the article calls out two trends affecting the substance of the MBA: STEM designation and “breaking boundaries.”

The first trend, “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) designation, granted by the U.S. Government, can cover either the full-MBA degree or component programs within the MBA that have a strong emphasis on data, analytics, and quantitative skills. This designation is not only appealing due to the number of tech employers who are recruiting MBAs, but it also makes an MBA program more attractive to foreign students. The STEM designation means that program graduates are eligible for a work visa that allows them to remain in the U.S. for up to three years post-graduation as opposed to just one. The STEM designation also broadens the appeal of business school to a more diverse array of prospective students. In mid-September, Johns Hopkins was the latest school to announce that its MS in Marketing will be STEM designated starting in 2020. And there are many other programs with the designation throughout the country. Currently, the University of Rochester Simon Business School is the only one that has the designation for all specializations within the full-time MBA, but others including the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Notre Dame Mendoza, and Duke Fuqua offer some certified specializations.

The second trend, “Breaking Boundaries” references programs that are challenging and expanding upon the traditional core business curriculum. Some programs are collapsing the core courses in finance, marketing, and communications into one interdisciplinary course. This allows students to obtain the information in a more organic and comprehensive way, as well as freeing up time for students to take additional electives within their areas of interest. MBA programs are also partnering with other academic departments at a greater rate to create cross-disciplinary degrees that appeal to employers and students who want to start working with a higher level of industry expertise. Michael Wiemer, senior vice president and chief officer of the Americas at the Association to Advance the Collegiate Schools of Business says, "The emerging demand is for shorter, condensed, and highly relevant offerings offered in a variety of convenient formats." In August, UT Austin’s Dell Medical School and McCombs Business School announced a partnership for the Master of Science in Health Care Transformation. Even more recently, HEC Paris announced the creation of a double-degree program along with the cooking school L’atelier des Chefs, as a direct response to increasing demand from its students for careers in the hospitality sector.

Further demonstrating business schools’ commitment to offering the most relevant curriculum, a Poets and Quants article published last week noted that in 2019 182 new courses are being offered across all top-25 ranked schools. This is an increase from 2017, when 21 of the top-25 schools offered 132 new courses. Ten of the top 25 schools are offering at least ten new courses, which is also higher than in 2017 (four). Dartmouth Tuck and Harvard have the highest number of new offerings at 13, followed by Columbia and Rice (12), Texas McCombs (11), and then Michigan Ross, Yale School of Management, NYU Stern, Chicago Booth, and Stanford GSB each with ten. The courses range in topics but include 20 with a focus on Data and/or Analytics, ten on AI and/or Machine Learning, 12 on Entrepreneurship, and ten on Tech. While, the majority of new course offerings fall within the more typical MBA disciplines of Management (22), Operations (21), Marketing (20), Strategy (20), or Finance (18), relatively few additions were categorized under traditional topics such as Economics (six), Accounting (four), and Real Estate (three).

These trends are very positive for prospective business students seeking to gain an increasingly personalized and beneficial degree. Anyone considering an MBA or other business degree should understand how the curriculum and structure of the program will support their short and long-term goals, keeping in mind the questions below:

  • If technology is an interest, does the school offer any STEM-designated programs or certifications?

  • How many credits are used on the core curriculum and how many are available for electives? When was the last time the school made updates to the core curriculum?

  • What certifications are offered by schools of interest? Which certifications might help you garner an interview, internship, or job at companies you’re interested in?

  • What relationships, certifications, or degree-programs exist with other academic disciplines? Are you able to take courses in other schools? What industry knowledge would help you to impress a recruiter in your desired field and is it attainable through the business school?

  • How many new courses are offered each year? Is the curriculum staying current with market trends, particularly in your areas of interest?

Despite Significant Debt for Graduates of Elite Business Schools, the Return on Investment for an MBA is High

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that MBA graduates from the classes of 2016 and 2017 had an aggregate federal student loan burden of $3.7 billion, an average of $39,900 per student, according to data from the United States Department of Education. Graduates of elite MBA programs held even more significant debt on average. Northwestern’s Kellogg graduates averaged $116,420 and NYU’s Stern graduates averaged $105,931; similarly, alumni of Yale University’s School of Management, Chicago Booth, and UVA Darden all had average debt between $85,000 and $100,000. Notably, these data points only include federal loans and not money obtained from the private loan market, suggesting that the estimates do not represent the full debt load.

A Bloomberg Businessweek Survey on MBA debt was also released earlier this summer with similar findings. The survey, which included the responses of more than 10,000 2018 MBA graduates globally, found that close to 50 percent of students at top business schools had borrowed at least $100,000 to fund their MBA. Among the top U.S. programs, a minimum of 40 percent of the MBA graduates at Duke, Dartmouth, University of Michigan, Cornell, and University of Chicago said that they had taken on at least $100,000 in debt. The percentage was lower at MIT, University of Pennsylvania, NYU, and Northwestern, at around one-third of graduates.

The same Wall Street Journal article notes that “The cost of a traditional two-year MBA has more than doubled since the global financial crisis sent droves of college graduates back-to-school starting in 2008, to an average of $30,100 a year in 2016, according to the latest figures available from the Education Department.” Currently, however, according to the U.S. News and World Report, the tuition for the top 15 ranked two-year full-time MBA programs in 2019 exceeds $50,000, with some priced higher than $70,000.

Even if this summer’s announcement that Harvard Business School and the University of Chicago Booth will freeze tuition for the upcoming school year portends a broader slow-down in tuition hikes, the cost of an MBA will remain significant. Despite the high cost, however, the MBA has still been shown to have a strong return on investment. Last year, QS Quacquarelli Symonds, a data and research company specializing in education, released findings from its Return on Investment Report for the full-time MBA, which include:

  • The average global ten-year ROI of an MBA is $390,751, which accounts for tuition, cost of living, and foregone wages. The highest ROI is found at Stanford at $1,023,150, the only school to enter seven-digits.

  • The average global payback time is 51 months. Europe offers the quickest return at 39 months versus 55 in North America, which is likely due to shorter program lengths.

  • The U.S. is home to 19 of the top 20 schools for highest post-MBA salary. The global average is $79,829 ($89,037 in North America) and Stanford is at number one with an average of $140,600.

  • North America also has the highest average salary increase at 74 percent.

While the prospect of taking on large debt as an investment in an MBA shouldn’t necessarily deter prospective students, the means for financing the degree should be considered as thoughtfully as the school selection.

UNC Kenan Flagler Provides Alumni with Strategies to Avoid Post-MBA Burnout

Earlier this month, the Financial Times published an article on workplace wellbeing and burnout. The article included the results of a reader survey on how employers support employees’ mental health. Two-thirds said that their work had a somewhat to extremely negative effect on their health. Forty-four percent said that they did not think their organization took mental health seriously and half said that they either didn’t know where at work to go or had nowhere to go if they needed support. While the survey respondents were self-selecting, the results show a significant issue with employer support of mental health, including stress, burnout, anxiety, and depression.

 The article warns us that the problem runs across sectors, but may be particularly relevant to graduates of law, business, and medical schools; the authors note that “Fields such as law, finance, and consulting seem particularly prone to intense, demanding workplace cultures, but the issue affects people in all sectors. One doctor dies by suicide every day in the US.” Similarly, Blind, an anonymous social app for tech employees, surveyed its users in May 2018 and 57 percent of the 11, 487 respondents said that they were burned out. Only five of the 30 tech companies represented had an employee burnout rate below 50 percent, and 16 of the companies had a burnout rate higher than the average (57 percent). Later surveys, also by Blind, found that 52 percent of tech workers responded that they do not have a “healthy work environment” and that 39 percent of tech workers said they were depressed.

The FT survey also found that reasons behind burnout clustered into four themes: overwork, cultural stigma, pressure from the top, and fear of being penalized. The article suggested that many experts point to an epidemic of overwork resulting from the common expectation that employees be available and responsive to client needs 24/7. “In his book, Dying for a Paycheck, Stanford professor Jeffrey Pfeffer posits that this crisis is getting worse over time, amid stagnating wage growth and an increasing reliance on the gig economy. ‘We are on a path that is completely unsustainable,’ Pfeffer says. ‘The CDC [Centers for Disease Control] tells you that chronic illness is 86 percent of the $2.7tn US healthcare spend. Many come from stress-related behaviours. If you’re going to solve the healthcare cost crisis, a piece of that solution has to go through the workplace.’”

In an acknowledgment of the intense positions that many post-MBA graduates find themselves in, Robert Goldberg, an affiliate UNC Kenan-Flagler faculty member, recently led an interactive session for UNC alumni to build awareness of and strategies for preventing burnout.

First, Goldberg encouraged alumni to explore various “energy zones” which, described below, he adapted from The Power of Full Engagement (Loehr & Schwartz, 2003).

  • Performance zone: Passionate, enthusiastic, engaged, optimistic, alive, challenged, and absorbed

  • Survival zone: Anxious, impatient, angry, irritable, defensive, fearful, and frustrated

  • Burnout zone: Hopeless, exhausted, sad, discouraged, lost, empty, worried, and depleted

  • Recovery zone: Calm, peaceful, grateful, relaxed, receptive, relieved, rested, and renewed

Goldberg said that to stay in the performance zone, you must enter the recovery zone before you enter burnout. As such, those in intense professions may need to spend time recovering every working day. This can be done using various energy management techniques, including physical (stepping away from the desk at regular intervals), mental (prioritizing competing demands), emotional (feeling valued and appreciated), and spiritual (connecting work to higher purpose). 

Finally, Goldberg addressed the importance of “personal resilience” to maintain strong performance, defining resilience as “the ability to become strong, healthy, and successful after something bad happens.”

Goldberg shared the following five factors, summarized below, for building resilience capability:

  • Perspective: Take some space to view a situation, accepting the negative aspects and finding opportunities. “Recognize what can be changed and what can’t.”

  • Emotional intelligence: Become present in your emotions and name what you’re feeling. Don’t feel guilt or shame over the emotions that you experience, but give yourself time and space to process them.

  • Purpose, values, strengths: Be aware of the purpose that you find in your work, and how it relates to your larger moral compass. Use this awareness to stay centered during chaotic times.

  • Connections: Form relationships with your friends and colleagues and give and receive support from this network.

  • Managing physical energy: Take care of yourself. Exercise, eat well, and have hobbies and activities to engage in apart from your work.

Graduate students, particularly within business, law, and medical school, may want to consider incorporating these strategies into their lives now. Building healthy and sustainable stress management habits, within the hectic graduate school environment, will be good preparation for managing career stress, avoiding burnout, and maintaining wellness in the future.

Make the Most of the MBA Tour: Conduct Thorough School Research

At The MBA Tour in NYC on July 20th, you will get the chance to further evaluate the offerings of the schools on your list. But, don’t forget, admissions directors, will be assessing you too. Come prepared. Conduct thorough school research, compile a list of questions that will show your knowledge of and enthusiasm for specific programs, and be prepared to speak eloquently about yourself and your experiences.

Prior to the event, consider also the following tips:

1.       Update your resume. Ensure it is up to date with your latest professional accomplishments and includes specific results you’ve achieved as well as impact you’ve had on the organization. Try to avoid a resume full of job descriptions or industry specific/technical language a reader from a different field won’t be able to understand.  Admissions directors will be looking for your ability to translate complexities effectively because business school classes are diverse. Your classmates will hail from a wide array of industries and educational backgrounds. Finally, when registering for the event, upload your resume into The MBA Tour system so schools are able to review it prior to meeting you.

2.       Refine your post-MBA goals. The MBA Tour will provide schools opportunities to make pitches and they will likely speak to the newest and most popular offerings. This can be distracting. While you want to keep an open-mind, remain focused on your goals and those program specifics that will best get you there.

3.       Craft an elevator pitch. This should be an introductory speech of about three minutes, which will provide admissions officers a high-level view of your current state and future goals. Spend some time to ensure it feels friendly, informative and natural. Practice it aloud to a friend. And be sure to include:  

a.       Who I am (unique facts and current state professionally): What is your name and where are you from? Where are you currently working and what do you do? How many years of experience will you have at matriculation? 

b.       What I’m looking for: When would you like to start an MBA program? What MBA concentrations are you interested in learning more about and why?

c.       Where I want to go: What type of job are you looking for post-MBA? Are there specific companies you are particularly interested in? What are your long-term goals?

4.       Review the schools who will be attending the fair and select your top ten. You may have time to speak with more, but this will help you to allocate your time wisely. It will also be helpful to prioritize your top three to five schools because you will want to spend the most time speaking with their admissions directors. Research these programs and prepare relevant, school-specific questions that show your knowledge of and enthusiasm for their offerings. Avoid questions that could be answered with a few clicks on their website, as well as those regarding your odds of admittance.  

5.       Review the list of attending partner organizations, which will include test-tutors and admissions consulting companies. Consider your interest in these services and do some research on the various firms so you can target those that will best suit your needs. Many will provide deals to MBA Tour attendees, so lookout for event promotions.

Most importantly, have fun at The MBA Tour.  It will likely be a meaningful and informative experience that could inspire one of your most significant professional decisions.

Even After Obtaining an MBA, Women and Minorities Continue to See Pay Gap Compared to Men and Non-Minorities

Earlier this year, the Forte Foundation released survey results reporting that a pay gap continues to exist, even after an MBA, between non-minorities and minorities and men and women. The survey, which included 900 men and women who graduated from MBA programs between 2005 and 2017, collected respondents’ pre-MBA salaries as well as their salaries from their first post-MBA position and currently.

Between non-minority and minority graduates, the pay gap improves somewhat over time, decreasing from 24 percent to 16 percent between pre- and post-MBA salaries, and then continuing to decrease to 12 percent on average for the reported current salary. Minority students, identifying as black, Hispanic, or Native-American, did see the largest return on investment from the MBA with an average pay increase of 76 percent. Minority men reported an 84 percent increase between their pre-MBA salary and their first job after graduation and minority women gained a 70 percent increase on average.

Conversely, the pay gap between men and women appears to increase over time. Pre-MBA, women were paid 3 percent less than men, this gap increases to 10 percent for the post-MBA salary, and widens to 28 percent among the current salaries. The pay differential between white men and minority women is the largest with a difference of 52 percent.  Both genders reported a positive return on investment from the MBA with women gaining a 63 percent salary bump after graduation and men seeing a larger increase of 76 percent.

The gender differential may be explained, partly, by a tendency for men and women to gravitate towards different job functions. Women enter marketing and human resources at higher rates than men, while men are more likely to pursue finance, general management, consulting and IT careers. The study shows that finance and operations are the job functions which contribute most to the gender pay gap, with men earning 60 percent and 48 percent more than women, respectively. Marketing is the only job function where women reported earning more than men (2 percent).

Forte Foundation CEO, Elissa Sangster, warned against attributing the entire gap to job functions. “While some salary disparity can be explained by the job functions women choose, there is likely unconscious bias and other factors at play,” Sangster added. "When we asked women MBAs how they intend to address the gender pay gap they’ve experienced, it’s more common for them to leave the company rather than speak about it with their manager, human resources, or company leadership. This is a wake-up call -- companies need to take proactive steps to lessen the pay gap, or risk losing highly skilled women employees."

While there is a tendency to assume that the differences in men and women’s salaries are related to women’s presumed unwillingness to negotiate, research is now showing that this is not the case. Berkeley Haas Professor, Laura Kray says, “We know that people who negotiate get more than those who don’t, but that’s not a ‘women’s issue’—two-thirds of men don’t negotiate. Women are asking, but they’re not always getting what they ask for, and they’re more likely to be told things that aren’t true.”

Kray recently published research with Margaret Lee, a postdoctoral research fellow, sponsored by the Center for Equity, Gender, and Leadership, showing that the differentials in total compensation are even more exaggerated than those spotlighted using salary data. The two reviewed surveys from Berkeley Haas alumni who graduated between 1994 and 2014 and work full-time. The data showed that “while men’s base salaries were on average about 8 percent higher than women’s, it’s in the bonuses, share values, and options—which tend to not be tracked as publicly as salaries—where the men’s salaries outpaced women’s. Overall compensation for Haas women MBAs averaged about $290,000, or about 66 percent of men’s $439,000 average. Kray and Lee also linked part of the pay gap to the fact that men manage larger teams than equally qualified women.”

 The Forte Foundation study also included career advancement statistics and found that men on average have garnered more promotions (2.3 vs. 1.8), have more direct reports (3.3 vs 1.8), and have achieved higher organizational rankings (Director level vs. Senior Manager) when compared with women. There were no statistically significant differences in career advancement for minorities versus non-minorities. Just as Sangster suggested, it appears that bias is at play, whether consciously or unconsciously, which contributes to men receiving management and leadership opportunities, earlier than women, with greater associated pay.

Declining MBA Applications Prompt Business Schools to Change Program Delivery Models

Late last month the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign announced its decision to shut down its two-year MBA program and reallocate funds to its online MBA. Just prior to this announcement, earlier in May, the last two-year MBA class graduated from the University of Iowa Tippie School of Management.

And they’re not the only ones. Wake Forest University, Virginia Tech, and Stetson University in Florida have also cut their two-year MBA programs. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, “Between 2014 and 2018, the number of accredited full-time M.B.A. programs in the U.S. shrank nine percent to 1,189, with schools reporting 119 fewer two-year degrees in the most recent survey by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.”

At the University of Illinois, the numbers told a clear story: In 2015 the incoming full-time, two-year MBA program had 74 students, in 2018 it had 49, and the current matriculation for the fall of 2019 is 38 students. Applications for the online MBA program, however, have tripled since 2016. Jeffrey Brown, dean of the business school at the University of Illinois, said the full-time MBA program will lose two million dollars this year. “This was an easy business decision to make, and a relatively easy educational decision, but it was an extremely hard call to make from the emotional side of things,” said Brown.

With the documented lackluster application volume to MBA programs and amidst a strong economy, some schools are focusing on offering competitive online MBA programs, as well as more specialized master of science degrees. The Wall Street Journal noted that among the business schools included in the aforementioned AACSB survey, there were 140 new specialized master’s programs in 2018, a 16 percent jump from 2014. And the number of online MBA programs doubled to 390.

Believing that one component of the decline in applications may be due to the steadily increasing costs of the two-year MBA, Harvard Business School and University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business have both decided to hold tuition costs steady while also increasing scholarship funds.  An article in Forbes recently noted that the “decades-long steady march of escalating price increases” has been consistent across almost all business schools and has typically exceeded the cost of inflation. The article notes that last year, tuition costs increased at variable rates from 11 percent at MIT’s Sloan to 1.6 percent at UCLA’s Anderson. Chicago Booth’s decision to freeze tuition garnered praise from Dean Edward Snyder of the Yale School of Management who said, “I think that is a brilliant move… It’s not because of weakness. It’s because of strength, and it’s the first school that is stepping back and saying we are not going to keep going down this path... It doesn’t indicate how the business model is going to get redone, but it is a signal that it needs to change.”

While online models may not be able to offer the corporate recruiting and networking opportunities, or prestige that the full-time, two-year MBA provides, the programs appear to meet a need in the market for developing business skills. And they do so with added flexibility and without the high costs of tuition and time out of the workplace.

This is good news for prospective students. The online route is providing a closer substitute for educational delivery than we’ve seen in the past. And for those still interested in the full-time, two-year model, lower application volume could mean a higher likelihood of securing both a coveted spot at a top ten school, as well as scholarship money.

Reduced International Demand for U.S. Business Schools and a Robust Economy Create a Beneficial Environment for Applicants

New data released this month from the General Management Admissions Council (GMAC) shows that U.S. graduate business schools are still suffering from a decrease in international applicants. Just under half, 48 percent, of U.S. programs reported in the GMAC Preliminary Application Trends Survey that they had received fewer international applications at this point compared to the same time last year. This survey, which collects mid-cycle application data from graduate business schools, includes data from over 700 graduate business programs around the world. Among full-time two-year MBA programs in the U.S., about 68 percent reported application declines from international students, while another 9 percent reported that applications were flat. Fewer than a quarter of the programs reported that applications were up. Among the 68 percent reporting declines, almost one-third of respondents reported that the applications were significantly down, 17 percent reported moderate declines, and 19 percent reported slight declines.

This report coincides with data that GMAC released last week from the Prospective Students’ Survey. While prospective students’ plans to apply to international programs have stayed relatively flat over the last few years, hovering around 58 percent, there have been changes in students’ location preferences. Among applicants who plan to apply to international programs (not within their country of residence), 62 percent plan to apply in Western Europe, with U.S. programs following at 61 percent. While the percentages are close, this is a switch from 2017 when the U.S. was the most named location at 63 percent followed by Western Europe at 58 percent. Prospective students were also asked to select their one most preferred location. Both the U.S. and Western Europe received equal proportions of respondents at 40 percent each. The longer-term trend, however, shows a gradual decline in preference for the U.S. between 2009 and 2016, with a sharper downturn in the last two years to 40 percent; the exact opposite trend occurs for Western Europe, which shows a gradual increase in preference with a more marked uptick to 40 percent since 2016.

Among all candidates, those applying domestically and internationally, the U.S. is still the most popular destination to apply for an MBA. However, the percentage of all applicants planning to apply to U.S. programs declined from 2017 to 2018 by three percentage points, from 68 to 65 percent, while interest in Western Europe increased from 37 percent to 42 percent. Interest in Canadian programs increased just one point, to 20 percent.

The decrease in international student applications, combined with the strong economy, and the rising cost of MBA programs, appears to be impacting overall application volume to U.S. business schools. Poets and Quants published an article last week declaring it a “buyer’s market” for admitted students. Though acknowledging that official numbers have yet to be released, according to admissions officers, there have been lower application volumes again this year, even among the top ten schools. This makes for the second year of decreasing applications, even amongst the highly competitive programs. Admitted students are reportedly receiving higher than normal numbers of acceptances from rival schools, as well as generous scholarship offers. The Poets and Quants article quotes an unnamed admissions officer from a top-ten ranked business school as saying, “When you have this many schools down and many are down for two years in a row, yield is going to be a nightmare because everyone has had to dig deeper in the pool. I would not be surprised if schools had to go deep into their waitlists or have to shrink their classes. It’s the collective impact of so many schools being down that is unique.“ Yield, which is the total number of admitted students who matriculate into a program, is important for balancing both the selectivity and revenue components of the program. 

Tech Companies Seek MBA Hires Who Excel in Entrepreneurial Culture

Technology companies have taken a large hold on MBA recruiting, with a particular interest in those students who can thrive in ambiguity and have a proven track record of creative problem solving. In turn, students are attracted to these companies for their generous compensation packages, the opportunity to take ownership over popular products, and the culture of innovation.

Liz Arnold, associate director for tech, entrepreneurship and venture capital in the Career Management Center at Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management, said “I encourage all students interested in tech to build their entrepreneurial skill set, to really understand how to take the initiative on their own to go from idea to launch. I think that particular skill set is valued at most tech companies, because the tech companies want students to be autonomous and take projects and run with those ideas and move them forward.”  Similarly, Sarah Eytinge, MBA University recruiter at Microsoft, describes the company as having an entrepreneurial culture, and as seeking MBA recruits who can thrive in ambiguity, learn and adjust their course, and take creative approaches to complex problems. We have a lot of teams in an innovative culture trying new things and failing fast,” she says. “They have the benefit of working for a large company like Microsoft so we have the resources to make those investments and take those risks. For those MBAs who are interested in entrepreneurship, they are surprised by what they have access to – they thought it was just a big company.”

Recruiter Insights on Top-Tier Programs for Entrepreneurship and Creativity

The Recruiter Insights Rankings, a component of the 2018 Bloomberg Businessweek Best B-Schools ranking, include deep-dives into recruiters’ views of the best programs based on entrepreneurial reputation and training, as well as the most creative and innovative graduates. The rankings include the responses of 3,698 employers that recruited MBA graduates, and focus on specific survey questions. Bloomberg Businessweek analysts then assigned scores to the top 30 schools with a score of five being the highest and one being the lowest. Below are the top ten for the three categories relevant to entrepreneurship.  

What schools have the best reputation for entrepreneurship?

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What schools provide the best training in entrepreneurship?

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What schools are producing the most creative graduates?

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Prospective students interested in expanding their entrepreneurial skill-sets for an interest in a technology career or who are among the 27 percent of prospective full-time two-year MBA students who listed entrepreneurship/self-employment as a primary career goal post-graduation in GMAC’s Prospective Students Survey 2018, should carefully consider the top programs listed above. Additionally, during the school selection or interviewing period, prospective students should proactively engage with administrators and professors from specific MBA programs to see how they support students in achieving these strong outcomes.

See full listings for each of the categories below:

What schools have the best reputation for entrepreneurship?

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What schools provide the best training in entrepreneurship?

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What schools are producing the most creative graduates?

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Online Business Courses Can Provide Value to Graduates Long After They Obtain MBA

On Tuesday, Harvard announced it would be rebranding its online course offerings from HBX to Harvard Business School Online in an effort to raise awareness and reach motivated learners throughout the world. Nitin Nohria, dean of Harvard Business School, says “Harvard Business School Online has allowed us to extend the reach of the School to people wherever they are in the world, …Through this innovation we have brought much of what is special about the HBS experience to life online, helping us to achieve our educational mission in an entirely new medium.”

Along with the announcement of the rebrand, Harvard Business School released the results of a recent survey of nearly 1,000 past participants of the online courses, who reported positive outcomes resulting from the online certificate programs. Over 90 percent of survey respondents said that obtaining the online certificate led to personal betterment, improved their professional life, bolstered their resume, and 90 percent said that it made them a more confident leader and increased their knowledge of business terminology.  Similarly, Northeastern University’s Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy released survey results from 750 HR leaders, with the majority (61 percent) saying that they believe online credentials are “of generally equal quality” to those completed in-person, an increased percentage from previous years.

This online method of offering business education complements a position that Bodo Schlegelmilch, chair of AMBA and a professor of international management and marketing at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, takes regarding the key nature of continuing education for MBA graduates in a Financial Times article published last week. The professor contends that MBAs have a need to continually top-off their degrees to stay relevant in the ever-evolving business environment. He advocates for the MBA as a “rented qualification” dependent upon graduates taking courses to renew their qualification over time. While this is a more radical idea, other business schools are also making changes to support graduates. Over two years ago all University of Michigan Ross Business School alumni, including MBA graduates, were granted complimentary access to all online course offerings and the ability to audit classes on campus. To encourage participation, the school created targeted online courses for MBA graduates returning to the workplace. Though a relatively low percentage of alumni are currently taking advantage of the offering, the most engaged are those graduates with under 15 years of work experience.

The rise in the quantity and status of online courses can greatly benefit both prospective MBA candidates and graduates. A prospective MBA student may take an online course or certificate program to help overcome a perceived weakness in his/her application to business school, or to demonstrate commitment to a particular focus area. Prospective students may also want to consider future access to online or in-person offerings for alumni during the school selection process. For MBA graduates, continued online coursework exhibits a commitment to continual learning and improvement.  These courses are being taken more seriously by corporate recruiters and the business schools themselves, so prospective and former MBA students should use them to their advantage.



Present a Polished and Compelling Social Media Presence. Business School Admissions Officers will be Looking.

Last month, Kaplan released results from its 2018 Business School Admissions Officers Survey. The survey found that 40 percent of admissions officers review applicants’ social media pages to learn more about them, up from 35 percent in 2017. Further, 71 percent of the admissions officers said it’s “fair game” to review applicants’ social media and that they do not see it as an “invasion of privacy...” Admissions officers are typically reviewing applicants’ pages to look for red-flags, or a lack thereof, but some say that a poorly constructed social media presence can hurt an applicant’s chances. Conversely, a strong social media offering can benefit an applicant. Forty-six percent of admissions officers reported that they found something on social media that helped an applicant while 36 percent reported finding something that hurt.

Social media can be an excellent tool for demonstrating your personality and articulating your interests. Just remember that producing well-written content should not be taken lightly because of the casual nature of the platform. We believe you should consider social media an extension of your application. Thus, we have provided some important guidelines for social media writing below.

1.       Know your audience.

Review your social media pages to ensure your security settings accurately reflect your intent. Some sites, such as LinkedIn, should be more publicly accessible, while others, with more private content, should be limited to peers.

After updating your security settings so that you are clear on who your audience is, ensure that your content and tone is appropriate. Review old posts and keep your audience in mind as you post in the future, never forgetting that admissions officers may be following you. LinkedIn requires a more professional tone and industry-related content, while Instagram is a good place for sharing your extracurricular interests and hobbies.

In addition to formality and word-choice, consider how you can curate the information you write and share to your audience’s interests. Add color-commentary and your opinion where appropriate to differentiate the articles you share from other sources.

2.       Ensure that your writing is technically correct and your voice is consistent.

While your tone can, and probably should, vary across social media platforms according to your audience, your will want your voice to remain consistent. Whether writing casually or more professionally, you should always put forth the best version of yourself. It is critical that your writing is technically correct for every post. Thus, it may be beneficial to investigate tools such as Grammarly, which provides grammar and spell checks on social media content. Always read your writing aloud prior to posting, and for longer posts, give yourself an opportunity to step away, re-read, and revise prior to going live.  

Additionally, your posts should be respectful of others and opposing viewpoints. Always keep in mind that schools are looking for red flags.

3.       Stay on-brand, but don’t forget to showcase your unique attributes.

 Do not miss the opportunity to display your personality and any unique skills. For writers, consider adding more long-form blog posts. Photographers should let their pictures take center-stage and only add shorter captions or explanations. Consider also taking advantage of alternative media formats such as graphic design or video to showcase your community involvement or hobbies.

 4.       Stay current by reading widely.

One of the best ways to elevate your writing skills, while also ensuring that you have something interesting to say, is to read a variety of well-written content. Read as much as possible, and as broadly as possible, across news outlets, books, and articles. Additionally, following people that you respect on social media, including the graduate institutions to which you are applying, in order to stay abreast of their content and discussion topics may inspire you as you create and curate your own content.

Want to Achieve Your Goals? First, Define Your Personal Brand.

In a Forbes article, writer Greg Llopis said that people often confuse the notion of a personal brand with having a curated social media page. In truth, however, social media is just one portion of a much larger idea. Your personal brand is how you express the compilation of experiences you’ve had, what you have to offer, and your intentions going forward. While social media accounts should align with your brand, they do not define it.

Llopis says, “Every time you are in a meeting, at a conference, networking reception or other event, you should be mindful of what others are experiencing about you and what you want others to experience about you.” This awareness of others’ experience allows you the freedom to put forward your most authentic self, rather than letting nerves or other outside influences change how you respond in a situation.

Spending time defining your personal brand will pay dividends as you move forward in your career, whether that means creating an exceptional grad school application, building a compelling resume, prepping for an interview or career-fair, or working towards the next promotion. It will not only allow you to be a proactive planner and decision maker, it will also act as a filter when you evaluate various career options.

To begin defining your personal brand, consider the following:  

1.       Your past experiences

Have you ever been so engaged in a pursuit that time seemingly disappeared? What have you found most difficult?  Which experiences stand out as those which prompted an evolution in your perspective? What are you most proud of? When have you felt most fulfilled?

2.       How you engage with others and the world

What strengths have you developed over time? What are your greatest weaknesses? How have you dealt with adversity? What feedback do you consistently receive when working with others? How do think others experience you? What five adjectives would you use to describe yourself? Do you think others would use the same five adjectives? If not, which would they use?

3.       Your future goals.

What type of work do you enjoy? What type of work do you aspire to do? What would you like your professional relationships to look like? What sort of environment do you think you would thrive in? What is your ideal work-life balance? What aspects of a position are most important to you and where are you willing to compromise? What are your short- and long-term goals?

Once you’ve refined your brand, you can start to put it into action to determine which opportunities will (and will not) be a good fit for you. Just remember to express a consistent message everywhere, including on social media. Recruiters or admissions officers should never be surprised by what they see online, rather the content should provide further depth on the person they know.

QS Global MBA 2019 Rankings Place Four US Schools in the Top Five

The QS Global MBA 2019 Rankings were released this week and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business ranked first. This is the second year that QS has released global rankings, which include over 250 MBA programs internationally. The ranking’s algorithm incorporates scores for Entrepreneurship & Alumni Outcomes, Return on Investment, Thought Leadership, Employability, and Diversity.

In both 2018 and 2019, 13 of the top 25 programs were based in the US. Also in 2019, four of the top five were based in the US, up from two in 2018. Schools in the US scored particularly well in the areas of Employability and Thought Leadership, while international programs fared better in Diversity and Return on Investment.

There was one new entrant to the top 25, CEIBS, which is based in Shanghai China.

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Rankings Indicators

As with all rankings, a closer look at the underlying components, which make up the Overall Score, can provide beneficial information for prospective MBA students. Below are charts showing the top ten ranked schools and their scores for each indicator.

The Entrepreneurship & Alumni Outcomes indicator makes up 15 percent of the overall score. Stanford not only received a perfect score within this indicator but was also about eight percentage points higher than any other program. Harvard, Penn (Wharton), and Michigan (Ross) were also included among the top ten. This indicator should be of particular interest to those keen on pursuing entrepreneurial options post-MBA.

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The Return on Investment indicator accounts for 20 percent of the overall score. Programs in the US did not fare as well in this category, though Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) and Michigan (Ross) are included within the top ten. International programs with shorter durations saw the highest scores, as shorter programs save students money, both in terms of tuition, as well as lost wages.

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The Thought Leadership indicator makes up 15 percent of the overall score.  US schools scored well in this category with MIT (Sloan) receiving a perfect score, followed closely by Penn (Wharton).

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The Employability indicator was given the heaviest weight, and accounts for 40 percent of the overall score. The top five programs, four of which are US schools, all received scores of 99 or higher.

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The Diversity indicator, which includes Class and Faculty diversity, accounts for ten percent of the overall score. For the second year in a row, no schools from the US were in the top ten in this category. And this is not expected to change significantly in the coming years as international applications to US programs continue to decrease.

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Application Volume Drops at Top MBA Programs in US

The Financial Times reported this week that four of the most prestigious business schools in the US saw a drop in MBA application volume for 2018 matriculation. Harvard, NYU Stern, Duke Fuqua, and Berkeley Haas each reported a decrease in applications from 2017 that ranged from 4 percent to 7.5 percent.

According to Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) data, in the US full-time two-year MBA programs’ application volumes have been in decline since 2014. However, this is not consistent across programs. In 2017, those with larger classes (201 or more students) accounted for 6 percent of MBA programs, but 55 percent of applications and 32 percent of enrollments. Larger schools were more likely to report application volume increases in 2017, while smaller were more likely to have experienced decreases. This decrease now appears to have expanded to the large, prestigious MBA programs.

While the decline in applications has not yet affected Harvard’s 11 percent acceptance rate or median GMAT score of 730, it was fairly significant at 4.5 percent. Similarly, NYU Stern reported a nearly 4 percent drop, while Duke Fuqua and Berkeley Haas were at about 6 percent and 7.5 percent respectively.

In contrast, MBA application numbers globally continue to increase. “When looked at internationally, graduate business education is a growth stock. Applications to Canadian, European, and Asian schools are increasing at an enormous rate,” said Bill Boulding, Dean of Duke Fuqua. Other admissions representatives who spoke with the Financial Times pointed out a multi-faceted cause for the lower application rates in the US:

  • Decreasing numbers of international applicants to US schools, due to a less welcoming political climate, as well as increasingly rigid immigration requirements.

  • Increasingly competitive European and Asian MBAs, offered in English, for those wanting a global experience. Some of these well-ranked programs also offer expedited timelines.

  • Increasing tuition and a robust economic climate in the US, which increases the cost of an MBA in both direct costs and wages-lost.

  • Increasing interest in part-time, online, and/or one-year MBA programs.

Take-aways for prospective MBA students

  • If you have dual-citizenship, don’t forget to note this on your application. It could be advantageous for you in the admissions process.

  • Be sure to highlight your international experiences and interests in your application. Admissions officers want to create a diverse student body and, with fewer international applicants, these experiences are likely to stand out more.

  • Consider that in strong economic climates, with low unemployment, schools are likely to receive fewer applicants. While this may not significantly change acceptance rates at all of the most prestigious programs, it can provide some benefit with regard to both admissions likelihood, as well as the possibility for substantial merit-based scholarships.

  • Choose your MBA program carefully, rather than automatically selecting a full-time, two-year program. Learn from these trends, by thinking carefully about the type of MBA that will benefit you most. International programs, one-year or expedited programs, and part-time cohort-based programs can all be worthwhile for you and your career.

What are Corporate Recruiters Really Looking for in the 2018 MBA Graduate?

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) recently released its 2018 Corporate Recruiters Survey results, providing insight into current employer hiring demand for MBA graduates.

In 2018, nearly three-fourths of corporate recruiters globally project to hire MBA graduates to fill business development roles. Functions also in high demand world-wide are data analytics (71 percent), marketing (70 percent), and finance (69 percent). The chart below shows the job function recruitment projections for recent MBA hires, globally and in the U.S.

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As one would expect, the job functions MBA hires are placed into vary by both region and industry. Below, are a few key industries with the job functions companies plan to fill with MBA hires in 2018.

-          Consulting: consulting, business development, data analytics

-          Finance: finance, investment banking, accounting

-          Health Care: marketing, business development, finance

-          Technology: marketing, business development, data analytics

-          Products: marketing, business development, finance

Globally, recruiters are more likely to hire MBAs into specialist, rather than generalist roles (52 percent and 48 percent, respectively) and into strategic over operational positions (also 52 percent and 48 percent, respectively). In the U.S., recruiters are equally likely to hire MBA students to fill specialist and generalist jobs and just slightly more likely to place an MBA into a strategic role over an operational one (51 percent and 49 percent, respectively).

Delving more deeply into the specific skill-sets recruiters are looking for when hiring MBAs, a Financial Times survey published in late 2017 asked 48 leading employers what skills they want in MBA graduates, and what skills they have a hard time finding.

The most important skills named by these employers included both soft-skills and strategy. Three of the most important skills, however, were also listed among the least difficult to recruit for: networking, solving complex problems, and working with a wide variety of people. The least important skills were function-specific. And the most difficult to recruit for skills were not listed among the most important, but included a cross-section of disciplines.

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Key Take-Aways

Both the GMAC and Financial Times surveys provide telling information on how recruiters classify and evaluate MBA candidates. Begin to think like a recruiter. It will be immensely helpful to you as you embark on your management studies.

1.       When considering your career prospects, you should first define your desired role in terms of:

a.       Specialist or Generalist;

b.       Strategic or Operational; and

c.       Job function

Having clear insight into your desired role will help you to find companies and jobs that offer the best fit for your goals. Additionally, knowing precisely what you want in your post-MBA role will help you to develop your elevator pitch and articulate your career vision clearly as you network and interview.  

2.       Staying abreast of recruiting trends by function, as well as highly coveted and/or difficult to recruit for skills can provide insight on areas where additional experience can help you to differentiate yourself. For example, data analytics is not only a function where hiring is very active for MBA recruiters, but also a skill that has been named as difficult to recruit for. Gaining some experience in this area may help to set you apart in interviews, even if this is not the primary function for which you want to be hired.

3.       Consider how you are highlighting not only the most important skills, but also those that are named as difficult to recruit for in your resume, elevator pitch, and interview responses. While your resume should list your specialized skills, this data suggests that highlighting soft and strategic thinking skills may better serve you in those precious networking and interview minutes with potential employers.

4.       Finally, think through your differentiating factors and experiences. Recognize that some skills are easier to recruit for than others, and make sure that you’re aware of and highlighting experiences, coursework, and skills that make you unique among the general MBA population.

The MBA Tour US: MBA & Business Master's Conferences

Meet Columbia, MIT Sloan, UCLA, Chicago Booth, Kellogg, Stanford, and more top business programs!

Join us in a city near you:

Seattle: Thursday, July 12
Los Angeles: Saturday, July 14
San Francisco: Sunday, July 15
Houston: Tuesday, July 17
Atlanta: Thursday, July 19
NYC: Saturday, July 21
Chicago: Monday, July 23
DC: Wednesday, July 25
Boston: Thursday, July 2


Why should I attend The MBA Tour?

The world's top business schools, all in one place.

Stand out from the competition and meet with Admissions Directors from top domestic and international business schools. Connect in-person to ask your MBA questions, learn about program offerings, and discover how a graduate business degree can help you boost your career.

  • Small group meetings
  • Admissions panels
  • GMAT strategy sessions
  • School presentations
  • Networking fair
  • & much more!

 

Who will I meet?

Connect with admissions decision makers.

  • You'll have the unique opportunity to meet with admissions decision makers to increase your chances of acceptance.
  • Learn in-depth program information and ask your MBA questions during MeetUp discussions (invite only, small group meetings).
  • Discover admissions tips from industry leaders.
  • Network with the people that matter when it comes to getting accepted to your dream school.

 

How should I prepare?

Complete your online profile to be matched with top schools.

  • Provide helpful information during registration to let schools learn about you and your goals and have them invite you to meet with them during MeetUps or School Presentations.
  • Use The MBA Tour's Research Schools platform to learn more about program offerings and options.
  • Log into The MBA Tour's online portal to easily confirm MeetUps and build your schedule to make the most of your event.

 

Great, sign me up!

Register free today to reserve your spot. Space is limited!


Business Schools Attending

*Schools vary by city; check event pages for individual listings. More schools to come.

Insights from Last Year’s Applicants: The 2018 AIGAC (Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants) MBA Applicant Survey

The 2018 AIGAC (Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants) MBA Applicant Survey emphasized the “great expectations” last year’s applicants had during the admissions process. The survey data includes 1,979 interviews with 1,377 respondents who applied to at least one school. Data was collected during the Spring of 2018.

Like the 2017 responses, this wave of applicants relied heavily on online and technology-based resources to learn about MBA programs, but mentioned the importance of combining these resources with a personalized experience with school representatives.

Students used both school supplied resources, as well as information from independent sources. Over 80 percent of last year’s applicants used school websites for gathering program information. And over 50 percent relied on online information sessions hosted by schools and interactions with current students. When asked about the most valuable school specific resource, the most common response was school website, followed by current student referrals, and on-campus information sessions.

While most applicants, 86 percent, used MBA rankings for school research, responses on the value of the rankings were mixed. Twenty-two percent of respondents selected MBA rankings as the most valuable independent resource, yet it was also the most commonly selected response for least valuable resource at 24 percent. Respondents named online communities/forums as the most valuable independent resource (24 percent), though only 59 percent of survey respondents used this resource in their research.

The majority reported an expectation schools would proactively get to know them through various initiatives, including formal visit programs, diversity and women’s events, and interviews. Respondents spoke to the importance of these face-to-face interactions, noting instances where a positive or negative encounter changed their personal ranking of the program.

The following schools were rated in the top and bottom quartiles for how well they got to know applicants:

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Furthermore, when it came to finalizing their school lists, over 60 percent of prospective students named reputation (66 percent) and ranking (61 percent) as top factors to consider, followed by school culture (53 percent).  Others, however, named geographic proximity to their desired work as the predominant concern as networking is critical, particularly in finding employment with small firms and start-ups.

Take-aways for current applicants

The survey emphasized the critical and personal nature of the school selection and application process. While school and independent online resources can provide comprehensive and useful information, nothing can replace interpersonal interactions. Ideally, applicants will be able to visit the schools they are most interested in, but if not, they should look for opportunities to attend school-hosted events in the city where they live.

MBAs Looking Away from Financial Services and Towards Companies that Offer Better Work-Life Balance

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article examining the “battle for MBA talent,” which looked at current trends in MBA graduate employer preferences. Authors, Laurence Fletcher and Pat Minczeski found that Wall Street is no longer as appealing to MBAs as consulting and technology firms, despite banks’ increasing starting salaries. “The share of full-time M.B.A. graduates from the top 10 business schools accepting jobs at financial-services firms dropped between 2012 and 2017 from 36 percent to 26 percent, based on a weighted average calculated by the Journal. The share accepting jobs in technology rose from 13 percent to 20 percent in the same period. Consulting edged out financial services as the top draw in 2017, as the choice of 29 percent of grads, up from 27 percent in 2012.”

The same article quotes Jean Ann Schulte, director of employer relations and recruiting services at MIT Sloan, who said “Over the last ten years we’ve had an almost complete flip between finance and technology.” In pointing to the working hours typical in the banking industry, she went on to say, “You can have a lucrative career without those lifestyle costs.”

An analysis published in Forbes by John Byrne earlier this year, which examined the average working hours for MBA graduates in various industries, supported the theory that MBAs are increasingly drawn to companies that offer better work-life balance. He found that, while overall, the median work week for MBA graduates is 54 hours per week, financial firms made up six of the top ten companies with the longest working hours. MBA graduates working at Goldman Sachs averaged 86 hours per week, followed by Barclays (73 hours), J.P. Morgan (72), Morgan Stanley (70), Credit Suisse (70), and Fidelity Investments (68).  Consulting firms round out the top ten, with average hours worked ranging from number three, McKinsey & Co. with an average of 72, to A.T. Kearney and Boston Consulting Group with averages of 63[1]. Bryne goes on to highlight that the MBA jobs with the lowest average working hours are at technology firms and large corporations. “MBAs who work for Microsoft average just 44 hours a week, while those who toil for Apple put in 52-hour weeks, a couple of hours below the median. Facebook MBAs average just an hour a week more at 53 hours, while Amazon MBAs hit the 54-hour a week median working for the e-commerce giant.” Those working for IBM, PepsiCo, and 3M company worked just under 45 hours per week.

Byrne then calculated hourly wages for various sub-industries and his analysis revealed that hedge fund and mutual fund employees earn the highest hourly rate at $129.46/hour. The average MBA makes about $75/hour. As an industry, high-tech placed third and fifth for e-commerce and software respectively, validating the supposition that technology companies may appeal to MBA graduates who value work-life balance, in addition to high pay and interesting work.

Some corporations need to do a better job addressing quality of life concerns if they want to recruit top MBA talent. And current MBAs considering various industries, corporations, or even offers should compare compensation alongside workload expectations in order to achieve both their career and lifestyle goals.  

[1] See full list here: https://poetsandquants.com/2016/06/17/mba-envy-not-know-hard-work/2/

MBA Employment Trends and Projections

Demand is high for recent MBA graduates. In 2017 in the U.S. and Canada, technology firms increased year-over-year MBA hiring by 22 percent and consulting and financial services firms increased hiring by 7 percent and 4 percent respectively. The same report (QS Top MBA Jobs & Salary Trends Report 2018)  projects that overall MBA recruiting in the U.S. and Canada will continue to demonstrate robust growth in 2018 (7 percent) and marginal growth in 2019 (2 percent).   

Technology: The growth in technology firms’ MBA hiring corresponds with reports that Amazon is hiring about 1,000 MBA graduates per year, almost double that of the next largest MBA employer, consulting firm McKinsey[i]. And the growth isn’t expected to slow in 2018. The QS Top MBA Salary Trends Report projects that recruiting in the U.S. and Canada by technology firms will continue growing in 2018 (15 percent) with more marginal growth predicted for 2019 (two percent).

In addition to Amazon, Microsoft and Google also recruit consistently within MBA programs, but with lower overall hiring. It is worthy of note that, among the Top 10 programs (US News and World Report), the largest percentage of 2017 graduates who accepted positions in the technology industry came from Berkeley Haas. 

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Consulting: Consulting firms recruit a large percentage of MBA graduates (approximately a quarter to a third of each class at Top 10 MBA Programs) and this is expected to continue. The QS Top MBA Salary Trends Report projects that recruiting in the U.S. and Canada by consulting firms will increase by 15 percent in 2018 with a slight dip to 7 percent in 2019.

McKinsey, the second largest employer of MBAs, is the top employer of MBA graduates at Northwestern Kellogg, Chicago Booth, and Columbia Business School. Following McKinsey in MBA recruiting are Bain and Company, The Boston Consulting Group, and Deloitte.

At Stanford, the percentage of graduates securing roles in consulting is lower but trending upwards.

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Finance: Developments in technology, political uncertainty, and greater competition from technology and other firms, has negatively impacted MBA recruiting by financial services firms. Wharton, as well as Chicago Booth, and Columbia Business School have experienced recent employment dips in the sector. According to a 2017 MBA Employment Survey by Training the Street, students reported lower interest in working for Wall Street and expressed wanting to explore options with companies, such as boutique banks, that may offer a higher quality of life.[ii]

The Salary Trends Report projects another year of modest growth for the industry in 2018 (4 percent) with a slight decline predicted for 2019 (-1 percent). 

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[i] https://poetsandquants.com/2017/10/04/amazon-now-hiring-1000-mbas-a-year/

[ii] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-09/record-percentage-of-mbas-don-t-want-to-work-on-wall-street

MBA Application Resource Roundup

For prospective business school students, we’ve created a short list of resources, including Apply Point blogs and information from external organizations, that will help guide you through the application process.

Apply Point Blog Posts

·       Deciding where to apply

o   MBA School Selection: Important Considerations When Building Your School List

o   MBA School Selection: What are the Alumni Saying?

o   Want a Career Abroad? Consider a European MBA.

·       Application

o   MBA Application Submission: Is There an Optimal Deadline?

o   The GMAT V. The GRE: Which Test is Best for You?

o   MBA Application Essays: Prompts Designed to Get Beyond Applicants’ Professional Experiences to Gauge Creativity and Assess Values

o   IQ is Important, but Don’t Forget About EQ

o    Using Recommendations to Strategically Enhance Your MBA Application

·       Interview preparation and tips

o   Top Ten Tips for the MBA Behavioral Interview

o   The Wharton Interview: Excel in the Team Based Discussion

o   MBA Interviews: When the Interview Requires More than an Interview

·       Use Social Media to Enhance Your Graduate School Application  

·       Unemployed and Considering Graduate School? Ensure This Time is Meaningful and Productive

·       Unconventional Applicants to MBA Programs Must Consider Abilities in Innovation, Leadership, and Teamwork

Online resources and social networks for prospective and current MBA students

·       Poets and Quants

·       Beat the GMAT

Organizations and Resources

·       The MBA Tour is an independent and high-quality information source regarding MBA admissions. Events emphasize personal interaction between prospective MBA students, business school admissions representatives, alumni, and other like-minded education enthusiasts.

·       The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management is a continually growing and evolving alliance of some of the world’s leading graduate business schools and business organizations, supported by the strength of an extended network of students and alumni.

·       The National Black MBA Association is the premier business organization serving black professionals.  

·       Prospanica, formerly the National Society of Hispanic MBAs (NSHMBA), emphasizes educational and professional development programs to improve the Hispanic community as a whole.

·       The Forte Foundation is a non-profit consortium of leading companies and top business schools working together to launch women into fulfilling, significant careers through access to business education, opportunities, and a community of successful women.