A management education degree abroad is one of the most sought-after dreams of many Indian and international students. As the COVID-19 pandemic dampened the spirits of many overseas education aspirants, it did not deter them from going for an international MBA qualification.
Latest research from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) highlights how prospective students’ preferences have shifted during the pandemic and includes responses from more than 6,500 individuals worldwide who expressed interest in graduate business education in 2021. Respondents are citizens of 156 countries.
Globally, more than 4 in 5 candidates agree that a graduate business degree helps them stand out at work, a trend which is similar to the pre-pandemic levels. Across the world, this perception is highest among candidates from India and the US.
More than 40% of prospective business students want to complete an MBA abroad full-time as a part of a two or one-year program. When it comes to careers, consulting is still the top industry and job function candidates aspire to join, much like the pre-COVID-19 times. However, students are also becoming increasingly interested in tech.
At A Glance
- Over 40% of prospective business students want to complete an MBA full-time as part of either a two or one-year program, as per a latest GMAC survey
- Consulting remains the top prospective student interest, while the interest in tech is increasing among students
- The results of the research are based on responses from more than 6,500 individuals from 156 countries
According to Sangeet Chowfla, President and CEO of GMAC, “Even though COVID-19 has changed the various aspects of the graduate management education landscape, the value of graduate management education generally and the MBA specifically continue to stay strong.”
Aspirants’ preferred study destinations, career journeys, delivery formats, and perceptions of admissions testing policies continue to evolve.
What Indian B-School Aspirants Prefer
Nearly 73% of Central and South Asian candidates prefer to study internationally. Western Europe and the US are the top international study destinations for B-school aspirants. So what factors do international candidates consider when deciding where in the world to study? First and foremost is the reputation of the educational system of the country. For all study destinations, international candidates most often cite the educational system’s reputation as a reason for their choice (75%), followed by better preparation for their career (54%) and attractiveness of the location (34%.
Out of the international prospective students surveyed in 2021, about 73% did not believe that online degree programs offer the same value as on-campus courses. Globally, 20% of candidates surveyed in 2021 prefer hybrid program delivery, up from 14% pre-pandemic. Increases are seen across candidate segments, including among candidates who want to study full-time.
Compared with 2021 global responses, Indian candidates express the most favourable views on questions like most disagree that a graduate business degree is not as highly regarded as it used to be and more agree than disagree that employers value a degree more than experience.
Around 85% Indian students who aspire to pursue a B-school degree believe that a graduate business degree helps them stand out at work. About 52% respondents from India disagreed that a graduate B-school qualification is not highly regarded, showing that Indians are still keen to pursue it.
Suggested Read: Number of Indians taking GMAT increased in 2021
What Motivates Students
What leads students to build their quest of going abroad for a management education degree? For most, their graduate management education must offer a good return-on-investment.
Graduate management education such as an MBA degree supports students in the development of leadership qualities, management, besides professional knowledge and skills for the workplace.
A March 2022 survey by GMAC delves deeper into what motivates B-school aspirants and the application trends globally.
Conducted between 2010 and 2021, featuring responses from more than 3,600 candidates worldwide who completed their graduate business education, it shows that most candidates pursue graduate management education for career advancement, personal growth, and better income. Most of the respondents saw it as the key to achieve their personal, professional, and financial goals.
These respondents were surveyed before and after they completed graduate business school and were asked about their motivation to pursue a graduate management qualification, their employment characteristics, and the evaluation of their B-school experience. About 40% of the participants were women. These candidates belonged to 113 countries and attended 728 graduate business schools or universities across 66 nations.
For 74% of respondents, the reason for pursuing a management degree were the job opportunities that came along with it. About 72% chose it due to the possibility of an increased salary potential. For 71%, it was the chance to develop general business knowledge and skills.
Other reasons included accelerated career path (67%), networking opportunities (52%), the possibility of changing career or job path (51%), and increased job opportunities abroad (38%), among other factors.
Most graduates (84%) reported that their graduate management education experience helped improve their professional situation. About 70% said that such a qualification helped achieve personal and financial goals. This is also true for candidates from Asia/Pacific Islands, 73% of whom pursue an education to achieve the above goals.