GMAC Application Trends Survey Report 2019: Canada, Europe Attract More International Candidates


Europe and Canada continued to attract a large number of international candidates in Graduate Management programs at the cost of a drop in the number of applications at B-schools in the US schools.

International Applications Dip in US B-schools

According to the GMAC Application Trends Survey Report 2019, international applications fell 13.7% in the US B-schools. Canada saw an 8.6% increase followed by 0.9% in Europe.

In the US, 48% of MBA and Master’s programs saw a dip in international applications, with 23% registering a significant drop. The percentage of applicants who marked the US as their preferred destination had dropped to 37% in the first half of 2019 from 44% in 2017.

However, the percentage who had revealed plans to apply to US business schools saw only a marginal dip from 63% to 62% during the same period.

About 50% of those who had dropped plans to enrol for programs in the US cited apprehensions about landing a job after graduation as a major factor. About 48% referred to difficulties in obtaining a student visa, 47% the political environment, 37% safety and security concerns and 34% racism and discrimination concerns.

Top Programs Attract Quality Students

Despite a slight year-on-year decline of 3.1% in the total number of applications for graduate management education, it is by no means an easy task to get admission in top programs that continue to attract 2.5 median applications per seat.

According to the 2019 application trends survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), the median number of applications was about the same as last year (2.4).

Overall, 9 in 10 programs report that their applicant pools were equally (63%) or more (24%) qualified compared with last year.

Largest Survey Sample, Says GMAC

The annual survey gathers intelligence on the current market for graduate management education applicants. GMAC said this was their largest survey sample ever covering 1,145 graduate business school programs of 336 business schools in 40 countries for the 2019-2020 academic year.

The report is useful for insights on application volume trends by program type and region. It also provides details of applicant pool composition by gender, citizenship and work experience. The survey looks at expected changes in enrollment rates, acceptance rates and program size.

Top Program Attract High-Quality Cohort

Programs continue to seat classes with highly qualified talent. The median number of applications per seat was 2.5 this year, about the same as last year (2.4). Overall, nearly 9 in 10 programs report that their applicant pools were equally (63%) or more (24%) qualified compared with last year.

Student mobility was proving to be advantageous for schools in the Asia Pacific, Europe and Canada at the cost of US programs. More and more Asia-Pacific candidates were opting to enrol in schools in their own regions.

Programs in Asia-Pacific reported growing or stable domestic applications (2 in 3) compared to the previous year. As many as 90% of applications came from within the region.

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