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2018-2019 MBA Admission Trends

Let’s face it: business schools are as sensitive as any other organization to world’s changes and events.

They adapt to the swift pace of technology, internationalization, and they need to conform with shifting demands from their prospective students. These tendencies, like technological evolution in recruiting and studying processes, tend to appear even stronger at the top MBA schools. As these schools get a lot of exposure and publicity, they remain the most sensitive to the ever-changing environment.

If you’re curious on what are the changes that become more present for MBA schools in the upcoming admission year, keep reading on. Here we list the top five trends, that will prevail in 2018-2019:

Gender Gap Closes

Despite the fact, that World Economic Forum predicts a significant period of 100 years to close the gender gap around organizations, business schools have already taken the lead in research and fostering processes of promoting gender equality. François Ortalo-Magné, dean of London Business School At LBS says: “Many on our faculty have written on gender issues. We will continue to contribute to progress by learning from our own research, thereby improving.” LBS grows public awareness on such issues and tackle misrepresentation of women at executive and management positions.

Dartmouth Tuck and Wharton for example have championed classes of 2017 with 44% of women in study cohort (with the same percentages for the a class of 2019). On the positive note, all top-10 schools according to Poets&Quants ranking had no less than 40% of class intake consisting of women, and actively pushing for the desired 50% in upcoming years. There is still a lot work and promotion for women that is needed to be done, yet the tendency to balance classes seems like quite positive.

More Focus on Technology

Understanding and being visionary with modern technologies, their benefits, and impact becomes a core soft skill for top management. MBA schools feel this rapidly growing demand, as they keep in touch with key leaders from industries. Unsurprising, that while technology companies expontiate their speed of growth, more of graduates are willing and apply into tech sector. While in 2013 only six business schools from top25 had 20% of their graduates starting to work in tech companies, the percentage has doubled in just the five years. The growth for technology enterprises is projected to be 4% according to Forbes, and the $4,5+ trillion sector creates a fruitful environment for hiring experienced managers.

These factors lead to launching more technology courses at business schools and building a joint MBA computer science and engineering programs. During the June MBA25 live broadcast, Tomasso Canetta, the assistant director of admissions from MIT, remarked that the university actively prepares students for professions of the future. MIT stays on the forefront of technological research and also actively encourages to explore interconnections of the industries to keep soft and hard skills on the cutting edge.

As with many new knowledge and technologies, there is an adoption gap among various sectors. Rajendra Srivastava, dean of the Indian School of Business comments: “Academia has fallen way behind industry in many sectors such as fintech and e-marketing. This is already happening in Europe, where companies and universities share labs, faculty, and research to support application-driven education.”

Business schools’ academia is still catching up in research with the named above economic benefits of virtual reality, fintech and crypto economies. Obviously, the research pipeline requires a business connections with companies from the industries, and the upcoming year will only be strengthening this dialogue of cooperation. As companies around become more complex technologically and structurally every year, more business schools launch research on building optimal solutions for the variety of enterprises.

On-demand online learning

Today high quality content is already widely available and cost nothing. The big leap that massive open online courses (MOOC) bring to affordability of on-demand education made top schools start promoting themselves with content marketing in form of free courses. Coursera leads with 30 million users, with edX, Chinese XuetangX, Udacity, and FutureLearn having 14, 9.3, 8, and 7.1 millions users respectively.

What’s more important, the amount of paying users has increased by 70% in 2017 at Coursera, and Udacity reported 50,000+ paying users at their Nanodegree programs. MOOCs are significant, as they provide the key to on-demand education. And that’s also a reason that led to creation of complete online MBA degrees, which allow studying part-time, and enjoyed all the benefits of teaching remotely.

Virtual and Augmented reality technology matured enough for education purposes

Fascinating enough, the best gear for interacting in XR (umbrella term for virtual and augmented reality) can be used in the context of business administration education. Bringing more visualization to the class during lecture with smartphones and headsets, or diving into immersive business simulator virtually - the level of realism is already at the point that allows continuous education sessions benefiting from the technology. Like virtual classrooms with avatars and not-restricted amount of visualizing material can outperform traditional videoconferences with the amount of engagement and interaction they introduce. Take as an example MIT Sloan School of Management which introduced it’s AvayaLive Engage virtual space to bring their executive level students to a classroom. The solution became crucial after the Hurricane Sandy that hit the Northeast in 2012 and enabled visiting classes anytime anywhere.

Joint and master degrees are on the rise

Lastly, there is a shift in consideration for the type of a business degree. According to GMAC report for MBA and Business Master’s demand 2018, full-time 2-year MBA degrees received a growth to 45% in 2017, whereas in 2013 only 41% responded about considering the full-time 2 year degree as a desirable. Strong increase has also master of data analytics with the growth from 7% to 17% since 2013. Several percents also gained masters of finance (20% in 2013 to 22% in 2017), full-time one-year MBA from 40% to 44%. Although masters of accounting and management experienced a decrease of 16% to 12% and 16% to 11% respectively.

Eventually, business education experiences a steady growth, as applicants see an opportunity to advance in their careers with business degrees. There is a definite shift to ubiquitous technology sector, and more programs introduce modules that arm students with soft and hard tech skills. The trend for decreasing gender gap also prevails and hopefully will find its men/women equilibrium in the upcoming couple of years.


Andrii Gorbenko is a senior education analyst, journalist, and writer at MBA25. For the past 3 years, Andrii has consulted prospective entry-level and mid-career professionals  applying to top universities around the world. These days, he focuses on trend analysis, data, and the challenges top schools face during the enrollment rounds. MBA25 connects the world’s best business schools with high-caliber candidates and organizes boutique MBA events in the USA and Europe . Only TOP schools. Only TOP candidates.

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