2022 Application Trends See Boost in International Interest

by Stacy Blackman Consulting, Jan 3, 2023

The pandemic-fueled rush to graduate management programs has officially come to an end. But while total applications have dipped slightly from the pandemic-level spikes, there is one noteworthy increase to celebrate. The Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2022 Application Trends report observed a remarkable rebound for international applicants applying to US programs.

Most US programs reported international application increases, especially full-time two-year MBA programs (80% of programs) and STEM-designated programs (61%). Similarly, most MBA programs in Europe saw stability or more applications from abroad this year.

GMAC’s Application Trends Survey is the largest and most widely cited survey of its kind in the industry. The 2022 report analyzed the application figures submitted by 950 programs of 264 business schools in 33 countries worldwide. Its aim is to examine the rapidly shifting demand for graduate management education (GME) programs. An annual survey in its 24th year, this year’s study appears to reflect the end of the pandemic-disrupted era. It also offers insight into how the post-pandemic market may take shape.

2022 APPLICATION TRENDS FOR INTERNATIONAL CANDIDATES

Notably, most programs in Europe and Asia grew or maintained women’s representation in applicant pools. A majority of responding programs in Europe (58%) and Asia (57%) grew or sustained the number of female applicants. In addition, more than half of US programs maintained or expanded applications from underrepresented populations (URP).

“I’m very pleased to see that women in Europe and Asia and underrepresented groups in the US are increasingly aspiring to pursue the business education that could empower and equip them to achieve their career objectives,” said Joy Jones, CEO of GMAC. “I commend the business school community for the encouraging trend that has grown from their concerted efforts to attract a diverse pool of talent.”

Applications to business master’s programs also ticked up, riding the wave of international interest. International applications to US programs were up at an exceptionally high proportion for specialized degrees. Applicants showed keen interest in the master’s programs in supply chain management (93%), marketing (76%), and data analytics (61%).

“The business master’s programs have traditionally been attractive to international candidates,” said Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou, dean and professor of finance at Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University and a member of the GMAC board of directors.

Ultimately, she added, “As the pandemic-induced restrictions gradually ease and people learn to live alongside and cope with the virus, we expect international mobility to continue to bounce back.”

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