MBA Admissions Officers Cite U.S. Political Climate as Top Cause for Application Decline

Admissions officers at U.S. business schools believe that such factors as the current political climate and a strong job market are to blame for the recent decline in MBA applications, a new Kaplan Test Prep survey reveals. Kaplan interviewed admissions officers from more than 150 business schools across the country for the survey, which seeks to explain why 70% of U.S. MBA programs reported declines in full-time, two-year MBA applications last year. The slight majority, 31%, of respondents believe that international students are hesitant to apply to business schools in the United States because of the current political climate, while 30% think that the relatively strong job market is leading possible applicants to stay in the workforce instead. Other responses included the cost of an MBA (17% of respondents), uncertainty regarding the value of an MBA (13%), the lack of one-year MBA programs in the country (7%), and the belief that an MBA is needed for fewer jobs than in previous years (3%).

More admissions officers are concerned about the long-term effects of the political climate than in 2017—indeed, 74% of survey participants claimed to be worried about a possible decline in international applications in the future, up from 68% the previous year. “When the job market is robust, as it has been for the past two years, applications tend to be down,” Jeff Thomas, the executive director of admissions programs at Kaplan Test Prep, commented in the press release about the survey. He also noted, “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.”

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