The three-year decline in applications to the top business schools appears to be over. Half of the Bloomberg Businessweek top 10 full-time MBA programs today reported healthy increases, with three citing double-digit gains in applications.
The news about MBA applications has been almost uniformly negative, especially the full-time programs at U.S. schools. In September, the Graduate Management Admission Council reported that nearly two-thirds of those programs experienced a drop in applications for the 2012 admission cycle, with at least a dozen schools ranked in Bloomberg Businessweek’s top 30, reporting significant dips. Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, Columbia Business School, Michigan State University’s Broad Graduate School of Management, and New York University’s Stern School of Business, all had double-digit percentage declines.
An 11 percent surge in GMAT testing volume for the year ended June 30 led many to expect an increase in applications for the 2013 admission cycle, and that’s exactly what appears to be happening. Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management led the pack with a 12 percent increase in applications to the full-time MBA program, followed by the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, with an 11 percent jump.
University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business reported increases of 10 percent, 9 percent, and 8 percent, respectively. The Kellogg increase was first reported by Poets & Quants.
Stacey Kole, dean of Booth’s full-time MBA program, says the bigger applicant pool will allow her to assemble a class of 575 that she hopes will have more women and international students than it does now. The quality of the applicants has improved, she says.
“We’re seeing some really good folks that employers are looking to hire who have some real depth to their résumés,” says Christina Sneva, Cornell’s executive director for admissions and financial aid, who had the same observation.