4 Key Preferences Of MBA Candidates

4 Key Preferences Of MBA Candidates


The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) conducts a number of useful studies for MBA candidates, business schools and those interested in business education. In its ‘2015 mba.com Prospective Students Survey Report’, it surveyed the motivational profiles of nearly 12,000 global business school candidates. Otherwise said, it analysed their motivations, programme choices, career goals, timelines, financing sources and preferred study locations, providing a holistic understanding of the next generation of students. If you’re interested in some of the key preferences of MBA candidates of today, see below.

1. The MBA remains the programme of choice

According to the report, the MBA remains the predominant programme format of choice for prospective graduate management students. More than half of the candidates surveyed ‘only’ considered the MBA, 22% of candidates ‘only’ considered other specialised business programmes, and 26% considered both options. Out of a list of 25 MBA and specialised business masters programmes, the top five preferences were the full-time two-year MBA (40%), full-time one-year MBA (39%), part-time MBA (23%), Master of Finance (22%) and flexible MBA (19%). With four of the top five being the MBA, it’s clear that the programme is only continuing to grow in popularity.

2. Increased job opportunity is the main motivator

When asked why they wish to pursue a graduate management programme, the majority of respondents (65%) stated that they wish to increase their job opportunities. When GMAC segmented prospective MBA candidates by their career goals, three distinct groups were revealed: ‘career switchers’ (38%), ‘career enhancers’ (34%) and ‘aspiring entrepreneurs’ (28%). All three groups are looking to better or alter their careers through higher education, with the MBA providing a holistic business understanding to be able to do so.

3. International demand is strong

More than half of the MBA candidates surveyed seek to study outside of their country of citizenship, a figure up by 12% from 2010. The United States still remains the top desired destination for students, however this figure has declined from previous years. Other countries in the top 10 include the United Kingdom, Canada, France, India, Hong Kong, Germany, Singapore, the Netherlands and Australia. When asked to select the top reasons considered most important for this choice, MBA candidates followed four key themes: a desire for an international career, the welcoming nature of the destination, English language development, and word-of-mouth recommendation.

4. Preferences change based on age

When looking at the results of Millennials, Baby Boomers and Generation X’s, each seem to follow similar patterns based on their age. This is in the areas of preferred course delivery, desired school culture, motivations and more. Interestingly, the younger generation tended to prefer their educational experience in the classroom, compared with older generations who are more likely to prefer online options. In terms of the business school’s culture, older generations are more likely to prefer individual emphasis and a casual environment, whereas Millennials prefer a competitive environment, team emphasis and a close-knit community.

What do you think?

Were the above results what you expected? The preferences of MBA candidates from around the world are a great indication of the current motivators considered by students. The GMAC report provides a number of additional interesting insights into the motivational profiles of potential students. To view the report for yourself, click here, or comment your thoughts below to join the conversation.

Are you considering how an MBA can elevate your career? Talk with an AIB Course Advisor today to discuss your motivations. Get the MBA information pack here to get started. 

This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. 

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