For MBA Applicants, Economy Doesn't Matter

Posted by: Alison Damast on March 8, 2011

The vast majority of prospective business school students said they plan to attend business school, regardless of economic conditions, according to a new survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) released today. The survey looked at the career aspirations and backgrounds of about 40,000 potential MBA students worldwide who registered in 2009 and 2010 on , a website run by GMAC that provides people with information on the business school application process. About half of the respondents, or 51 percent, said the current economic climate did not affect their likelihood to get their MBA, while about one-third, or 36 percent, said that the economy spurred them to get the degree. About 13 percent of the respondents said the tough economy had dissuaded them from considering business school, and just one percent said the adverse economy made them decide not to go to business school at all, the survey showed. This is the first time that GMAC has asked this question of registrants, so historical comparison data is not available, a spokesman for GMAC said. Still, the results are “consistent with long-term findings” that GMAC has conducted since 2003, when the economy was coming out of the last recession, the survey noted.

MBA applicants may be moving forward with their plans to attend business school, but financial worries remain a concern, especially when it comes to their careers and long-term prospects, the survey said. For example, about 50 percent of registrants in 2010 said they feared the degree would be too expensive, while another 48 percent worried about incurring financial debt and student loans. About 22 percent said they feared that their job outlook would be uncertain because of the shaky economy. Only 14 percent said they had no reservations about pursuing an MBA.

Here are a few of the other key findings from the report, which can be found here:
• The window of time for prospective students between completing their first-degree program and submitting their application to business school is four years.
• The majority of students around the world send applications to programs in both their home country and aboard, with Canada and U.S. being the main exception. In these two countries, most students submit their applications to just domestic programs.
• The top three programs considered in 2010 were the same as in 2009: full-time two-year MBA programs, full-time one-year MBA programs and part-time programs.

Readers, share with us any reservations you might have about getting an MBA degree. Does today's economic climate have any impact on whether or not you decide to attend business school?

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