Interest in full-time MBA programs was up again in 2015, with 57% of two-year programs worldwide reporting more applicants compared to the previous year, a new survey shows.
The Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) 2015 Application Trends Survey also found increased interest in one-year graduate business programs; 51% of those programs said the volume of applications was up year-over-year.
Online MBA programs were more likely than executive and part-time programs to report rising numbers of applicants in 2015.
Overall, a majority of MBA programs said they received more applications in 2015 than they did a decade ago. Domestic candidates comprise about 45% of applicants at U.S. business schools.
“The full-time MBA continues to be a sought after credential because graduates consistently see a high return on their investment,” GMAC Executive Vice President Bob Alig said in a statement.
Aside from higher earnings, MBA grads report higher levels of personal fulfillment and job satisfaction, Alig noted.
Information for the survey was collected from 641 graduate business programs at 306 universities in 35 countries. The 16th annual survey included data from schools in 42 U.S. states and was conducted in June and July for GMAC, which administers the widely used business school entrance exam known as the GMAT.
Among full-time, two-year MBA programs in the United States, 59% said applications were up in 2015, hitting a level not reached since the Great Recession.
“There is a cyclical trend in U.S. application volumes that mirrors the economy,” Gregg Shoenfeld, who directs management education research at GMAC, told BloombergBusiness.
As applications for MBA programs have grown, so has the number of applications from women. The GMAC survey found that slightly more than half of full-time, two-year MBA programs received more applications from women in 2015 than during the previous year. Overall, women accounted for about 40% of MBA applicants, an increase from the 35% reported in 2011.
To achieve more gender equality, industry experts recommend several measures: employers should hire more women with MBAs; business schools should boost the number of female professors and deans; and companies should appoint more women to top executive positions, such as chief executive officer.
A 2015 analysis by CNNMoney found that women held just 24 of the CEO positions at companies listed in the S&P 500.