24 Nov 2021 16:21 IST

Uptick in applications in India for MBA abroad, says GMAC study

Flexible admission policies and easing of lockdown restrictions were cited as the main reasons.

The volume of applications for graduate business school programmes grew 0.4 percent in 2021 from the year before, according to a survey conducted by Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). Nearly 1,000 MBA and business masters programmes were surveyed. All MBA programmes witnessed the highest number of international applications from India. The friendly visa policies, two-year work visas, easing of lockdown restrictions were are cited as the major reasons behind the surge.

“Candidates looked for alternative career options during the Covid-induced recession and B-schools introduced more flexible admissions policies, resulting in soaring application volumes last year,” said Sangeet Chowfla, president and CEO of GMAC.

International candidates rebound

Weighted absolute year-on-year change in application volumes from international candidates ― the applicants whose citizenship differs from that of the country where the programme is located ― shows an increase of 4.1 per cent compared to a decline of 3.8 per cent from domestic candidates, the applicants who are citizens of the country where a program is located. More programs in Europe, the US, and the UK reported a decline in applications from domestic candidates when compared across regions.

This difference between international and domestic application volume is especially apparent for full-time MBA programmes among leading business schools. The share of full-time, two-year MBA programmes showing growth in applications from international candidates has doubled from 28 per cent in 2019 to 57 per cent in 2021. Furthermore, twice as many US programmes ranked in the top 50 according to the US News & World Report saw an increase in applications from international candidates (73 per cent) as domestic candidates (36 per cent).

More women enrol for MBA

Full-time MBA programs continued gaining traction in 2021. Half of full-time one-year (52 per cent) and two-year (56 per cent) MBA programs report an increase in applications in 2021, above all programs averaged at 41 percent. On the contrary, professional MBA programs such as part-time MBA, executive MBA, and online MBA programs ― those geared toward the needs of working professionals ― saw their share in those reporting application growth at the lowest level since 2017.

This year’s application data also indicates that globally, three in five (60 per cent) of women candidates in full-time two-year MBA programmes reported an increase in applications compared to two in five (43 per cent) programmes reporting growth from male candidates. In comparison, a much smaller share of online MBA programmes (42 per cent) reported growth in applications from women candidates, indicating women’s preference to return to in-person, full-time learning.