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Economy to Blame for Drop in MBA Applications?

For the third consecutive year, the Graduate Management Admission Council reported that applications to full-time MBA programs have declined. In a blog posted on BNET entitled "MBA Applications Are Down, What's Up?", John Byrne looks into the details of this downward trend.

What's behind the drop in MBA applications

Top schools like Stanford, Cornell and Harvard saw applications drop 8.9, 8 and 4 percent, respectively. But it's not just top schools that are experiencing this trend. Although larger programs seem most affected, GMAC claims that about two thirds of all full-time MBA programs reported drops in application over last year. In exploring the factors, Byrne said that MBA officials attribute the drop to an uncertain economy.

"The economy plays a big role in how risk-averse people feel after leaving a paying job and going to business school," Director of Admissions and Financial Aid for the Johnson School at Cornell University Christine Sneva said in Byrne's piece.

Interestingly, the GMAC indicated that historical trending shows that MBA applications tend to be counter-cyclical to the economy. That is, when the economy tanks, MBA applications rise. The current trend could be a reverse of what usually happens or a balancing act for past high application numbers.

Despite the drop in applications, the GMAC did report continued growth to MBA programs from applicants in China and India.