November 19, 2021

GMAC’s Annual 2021 Application Trends Survey is Out!

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) released its annual 2021 Application Trends Survey on Wednesday, and it was good news for MBA programs worldwide. The question that had been dogging MBA programs was whether the extraordinarily high application volume in 2020 was due solely to a mixture of COVID-induced economic uncertainty and business schools relaxing their admissions testing policies, or whether there was a renewed interest in the MBA degree. We’re happy to report that GMAC’s survey shows application volume was up from 2020.


GMAC Looks at International Applications

The easing of negative Immigration policies and COVID restrictions that impacted travel in 2020 may be what caused the bump in 2021’s international applications (applicants to countries other than their own), which was up 4.1 percent versus a 3.8 percent decline in domestic applicants. Among the top 50 U.S. full-time two-year MBA programs, the bump was even more significant: 73 percent of the applicants in 2021 were international, while only 36 percent were domestic; and 42 percent of international candidates applied to a STEM program, compared with 24 percent of domestic candidates.


Full-time two-year MBA programs reported that the greatest number of international applications in 2021 came from India, with China taking the second spot. The greatest increase in the number of international applicants compared with last year came from India, with Nigeria in second place, while the greatest decrease were applicants from China, with Brazil in second place. However, while applications from China declined for MBA programs, they were still the number-one country applying to other business master’s programs.


GMAC polled admissions officers to get their take on why international applications were up, and their comments ranged from the implementation of the 2-year work visa in the UK that Indian applicants could take advantage of, the easing of COVID restrictions, and the perception of the U.S.


GMAC Looks at Diversity

Women and underrepresented minorities (URM) also surged back to in-person full-time MBA programs in the U.S., with applications showing a 56 percent increase, compared to 37 percent in 2019 (URMs who were also women increased 22 percent between 2019 and 2021). Globally, 60 percent of full-time two-year MBA programs reported an increase in applications by women, compared with 43 percent by men.


The report notes that although COVID has been particularly harmful for working women, the data suggests they’re moving forward on their MBA plans, and they prefer to do it in person rather than online. This may be reflective of the view that the degree serves as a launchpad and prepares them for leadership roles, this according to a GMAC Alumni Perspectives Survey in September 2021.


The GMAC Trends Survey is a treasure trove of data. If you’d like to pour over it yourself, click here. Get started on your MBA journey by contacting us today!