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Applications Down at Two Business Schools

For Columbia Business School and New York University's Stern School of Business, close ties to the financial industry may be responsible for a sharp decline in MBA admissions, reports an Aug. 30 article for Businessweek. At Columbia Business School, where half of the class of 2012 was employed by the financial services sector post-graduation, admissions to its full-time MBA program dropped by 19 percent. The article calls it "the biggest one-year drop in applications in recent memory." At NYU Stern, where 46 percent of 2012 MBA grads entered financial services, admissions declined almost 12 percent.

The decline in admissions appears to be directly linked to "turmoil on Wall Street," where Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, and a host of other MBA employers have announced job cuts, and the average Wall Street bonus recently fell to its lowest level since 2008. Though recent events have triggered more dramatic drops in MBA admissions to finance-driven b-schools, the article states that the popularity of finance careers for MBA grads has been on the decline since 2008.

Business schools such as Harvard Business School and Wharton that rely less on the financial sector for jobs have not been affected by such a significant decline in admissions. At HBS, admissions dropped less than two percent between 2011 and 2012, while Wharton saw a decrease of less than one percent.

One upside for MBA hopefuls may be a better chance of acceptance to MBA programs that excel in finance. However, the article is quick to point out that admission to these b-schools is still very competitive, and lower admissions numbers mean that a greater number of highly-qualified candidates will be accepted.