GMAC’s Eight Types of MBA Aspirants


The journey to getting an MBA is as diverse as those who embark upon it. The Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) recent white paper, “Meet the Segments,” categorizes eight types of MBA aspirants, each with unique motivations, goals, and aspirations.

When GMAC last conducted this research in 2016, they focused on the motivations of graduates who had pursued specific degree programs and schools. This time, the survey broadened to include younger prospective students who hadn’t yet solidified their graduate management education plans.

Information gleaned in this paper is based on a survey of 10,000 prospective MBA students in 21 countries. Explore these eight types of MBA aspirants and see which archetype best describes you.

Curious about your chances of getting into a top B-school? Contact us to talk strategy with a free 15-minute advising session with an SBC Principal Consultant.

Social Impact Champions

Motivation: Contributing Positively to Society

Social impact champions want to make a difference in the world. They care deeply about social issues like poverty, inequality, and the environment. These individuals often seek MBA programs with strong corporate social responsibility (CSR) elements. They see the MBA as a way to increase their positive impact on society.

Case in Point:  Alex, a community organizer, wants to improve educational opportunities in underserved areas. He seeks an MBA to gain project management and fundraising skills, aiming to launch a non-profit organization that builds and supports schools in low-income neighborhoods.

Are you wondering whether you can reach your career goals faster with a social impact MBA? Stacy Blackman offers a Social Impact Accelerator package designed just for purpose-driven applicants.

Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Motivation: Owning Their Own Business

Aspiring entrepreneurs dream of starting and running their own businesses. They seek MBA programs with entrepreneurship tracks, incubators, and access to venture capital. These programs give them the skills and connections to turn their ideas into successful businesses.

Case in Point:  Samantha has developed a sustainable fashion brand focused on eco-friendly materials. She wants an MBA to learn about business management, marketing, and securing investments to expand her brand globally.

Listen to B-Schooled Podcast Episode #204: Stacy Blackman on Entrepreneurship

Family-Focused Achievers

Motivation: Supporting Their Family and Making Them Proud

Family-focused achievers want to improve their family’s lives and make them proud. They often come from backgrounds where higher education is critical to a better future. These aspirants look for MBA programs that promise good job placements and strong alumni networks.

Case in Point: Maya, the first in her family to attend college, sees an MBA as a way to get a better-paying job in finance. This will allow her to support her siblings and parents.

Charting Your Destiny: Advice for First-Generation MBA Applicants

Wealth Builders

Motivation: Earning More Money

Wealth builders aim to increase their earnings. They view an MBA as an investment leading to higher salaries and better job opportunities. These aspirants pursue programs known for high post-MBA salaries and courses in lucrative fields like investment banking and consulting.

Case in Point: David is a mid-level manager in a tech company. He wants an MBA to accelerate his career and increase his earning potential.

frequent job changes

Career Advancers

Motivation: Gaining Career Options and Technical Skills

Career advancers want to move up the corporate ladder by gaining advanced skills. They are often professionals looking to pivot within their industry or take on leadership roles. These aspirants seek MBA programs with specialized tracks and industry certifications.

Case in Point: Sophia is an engineer who wants to move into management. She believes an MBA will give her the strategic thinking and leadership skills needed to advance her career.

Career Agnostics

Motivation: Figuring Out Their Ideal Career

Career agnostics are exploring their career options. They see an MBA as a way to discover their professional interests. They value programs with a broad curriculum and robust career counseling services.

Case in Point: Rachel has worked in various roles within her company’s operations department but hasn’t found a niche she loves. She hopes an MBA will expose her to different fields like finance, marketing, and consulting, helping her identify a career path that excites and fulfills her.

Global Careerists

Motivation: Studying and Working Abroad

Global careerists want international experience. They seek MBA programs with strong global reputations, international campuses, and study abroad opportunities. They find programs that emphasize global business practices attractive.

Case in Point:  Carlos works in sales for a local company in Brazil and dreams of working in Europe. He wants an MBA from a school with a strong global network and exchange programs, hoping to gain international business skills and build connections that will help him secure a job in the European market.

Lifelong Learners

Motivation: Personal Growth and Development Through Digital Means

Lifelong learners crave knowledge and self-improvement. They prefer flexible MBA programs that offer online or part-time options. These aspirants seek personal growth while balancing learning with their responsibilities.

Case in Point: James is a software developer interested in acquiring business skills. He prefers a well-ranked online MBA program that allows him to continue working while learning.

Eight Types of MBA Apsirants: All Roads Lead to B-School

The different motivations and goals of MBA aspirants highlight the need for various MBA programs. Knowing which category they fit into can help aspirants choose the right program.

Whether they aim for social impact, entrepreneurship, family support, wealth, career advancement, exploration, global experience, or lifelong learning, each type of MBA aspirant brings unique perspectives and ambitions to the table. This diversity enriches the MBA journey for everyone involved.


Stacy Blackman Consulting offers multiple services to meet your MBA application needs, from our All-In Partnership and Interview Prep to hourly help with essay editing, resume review, and much more! Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant.

Here’s a snapshot of the caliber of expertise on our SBC team.

SBC’s star-studded consultant team is unparalleled. Our clients benefit from current intelligence that we receive from the former MBA Admissions Officers from Harvard HBS, Wharton and every elite business program in the US and Europe.  These MBA Admissions Officers have chosen to work exclusively with SBC.

Just two of the many superstars on the SBC team:
Meet Anthony, who served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where he dedicated over 10 years of expertise.

Meet Andrea, who served as the Associate Director of MBA Admissions Marketing at Harvard Business School (HBS) for over five years.

Tap into this inside knowledge for your MBA applications by requesting a consultation.


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