SBC Survey Results: More MBA Applicants Drawn to Consulting, Swayed by Scholarships

SBC4More than 50% of business school applicants say they would attend a less desirable program if awarded a scholarship, according to SBC’s annual survey of MBA applicants.

Our survey also reported that a post-MBA career in consulting (47.9%) was the top pick, up from 39.2% last year.

After consulting, finance is the most popular post-MBA career choice, according to 26.75% of respondents this year, up from 18.37% last year.

Interest in entrepreneurship continues to grow, capturing 26.47% this year, compared to 24% last year. Technology is also a popular career choice, with 23.11 % planning to pursue a career in technology according to this year’s study.

The survey also reported that 37.69% of applicants plan to apply to five or more schools this year, down from the 44.9% that planned to apply to that many schools last year. Last year, 17.1% planned to apply to six schools and 23.34% to five schools.

At the same time, traditional two-year, full-time programs continue to be the most popular, with 85.75% of respondents considering two-year programs, 35% considering one-year programs, 14.51% considering part-time options, and only 4.13% planning to apply to online programs.

Reduced application requirements (fewer and shorter essays) motivated 51.8% of respondents to apply to more schools (down from 60.49% last year).

While video essays and interviews have become more common in the application process, they don’t get high marks from prospective students, with only 11.48% indicating video-based application elements represented them “extremely well,” 39.65% “well,” and 32.98% indicating such requirements are “limited.”

Other survey results include:

*49.47% of respondents indicated reputation is the most important factor influencing their decision to attend a particular business school, followed by 17.38% for strength of job placement, 12.7% for the culture of the program, and 8.56% for the strength of a school’s alumni network.

*Career advancement continued to rank as the top reason to attend business school at 47.76% (44.95% ranking it as most important last year), followed by career change at 32.31% (compared to 34.02%  of respondents last year).

*Interest in the GRE declined, with only 8.95% planning to take it this year, compared to 10.91% last year. Whereas 91.05% plan to take the GMAT this year, compared to 89.09% last year.

The survey was conducted with 751 respondents between May 1 and May 31, 2016. For more of my thoughts and reactions to these survey results, check out my interview with Poets & Quants.


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