Kaplan Test Prep Survey: Business School Admissions Officers Identify Political Environment and a Strong Economy as the Top Reasons for the Application Slump at U.S. MBA Programs

A new Kaplan Test Prep survey of admissions officers at more than 150 business schools across the United States identifies the top reasons for the recent decline in business school applications.

A new Kaplan Test Prep survey of admissions officers at more than 150 business schools across the United States identifies the top reasons for the recent decline in MBA applications.

Note to editors: Kaplan is a subsidiary of Graham Holdings Company (NYSE: GHC)

Press Contact: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 212.453.7538
Twitter: @KapTestNews, @KaplanGMATPrep

New York, NY (January 30, 2019) – Amidst a relatively strong job market for newly minted MBAs, top business schools across the United States are reporting something they have not experienced in years — a significant drop in applicants. A new Kaplan Test Prep survey of admissions officers at more than 150 business schools across the United States notes the application decline and identifies the top reasons for it, as they see it*: 31 percent say it’s because many international students are concerned about the current political climate in the U.S. and seeking business school options elsewhere, while 30 percent says it’s because the strong job market is keeping prospective students in the workforce. Seventeen percent say it’s due to the cost of an MBA education; 13 percent attribute it to lingering questions about the value of the degree; 7 percent say it’s because of the lack of one-year MBA programs in the United States; 3 percent say it’s because of a perception that fewer jobs require an MBA than in years past.

For many schools, the  drop in applications from international students, who for many make up a significant share of their overall population, appears to be a longer term concern. Nearly three quarters (74 percent) of the business schools polled are concerned that the current domestic political climate will have a negative impact on international student enrollment in the years to come. This is up from the 68 percent who responded accordingly in Kaplan’s 2017 survey.

“There’s no question that business schools are facing some significant headwinds that are largely out of their control when it comes to recruitment, particularly among international students. While a strong job market may be great for current MBAs who are finding jobs and securing high salaries, that same strong job market is convincing potential new students to stay put, where their current jobs seems secure and their pay is good,” said Jeff Thomas, executive director of admissions programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “Trends in MBA applications are almost always cyclical. When the job market is soft, you see an increase in applicants, as prospective students see the value in becoming more marketable and waiting out a weak economy. When the job market is robust, as it has been for the past two years, applications tend to be down. But even if the economy does take a downturn, an American political climate that discourages international students from coming may erode any normal application increase. We’ll continue to track this trend.”

*Kaplan’s results are based on a survey conducted by phone between August and September 2018. It included responses from 153 business schools, including 33 of the top 100, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

To schedule an interview about Kaplan’s survey results, please contact Russell Schaffer at russell.schaffer@kaplan.com or 212.453.7538.

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 100 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses. Among those tests are the SAT®, PSAT®, ACT®, GRE®, GMAT®, LSAT®, MCAT®, NCLEX-RN® and bar exams. Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.

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