What Have We Learned from the 2015 QS Applicant Survey?

MBA applicants

QS has published the TopMBA.com Applicant Survey every year since the early 90s. Drawing on our ties with MBA applicants around the world, the survey gives a picture of their aims and aspirations, what’s important to them, who they are, and to shine a spotlight on how the world of business education changes from year to year.

You can read this year’s edition in full free of charge, but to whet your appetite, here are some highlights for 2015.

What are the MBA career plans of applicants?

  • Consulting is the most popular post-MBA target industry worldwide, on the radar of 45.5% of MBA applicants
  • 94.4% of applicants are considering changing industry.
  • 71.9% of applicants see themselves either running their own business, acting as a director in a large company, or as the CEO of a large company in 10 years’ time.
  • Applicants anticipate a shorter working week; 54.8% of respondents plan to work no more than 50 hours per week. 
  • Slight drop in candidates pursuing an MBA to boost their salary compared to 2014 – down from 33% to 30.1%...
  • …though salary expectations are up this year, with the global average now standing at $114,000.

Where are MBA applicants planning to study…and why?

  • Applicants are open to a greater number of study destinations, a continuation of a trend we saw last year.
  • The proportion of candidates basing their choice of study destination on the availability of scholarships/financial aid has risen to 55% globally, second only to the international recognition of qualifications.
  • General management, international management and strategy are the most popular specializations by some way.
  • The availability of scholarships and financial aid is the most important factor in school choice globally, while rankings are universally considered relatively unimportant.
  • The full-time MBA has declined slightly in popularity (considered by  79.4% of respondents, down from 82.6%), while nearly one in five applicants is considering an online MBA.

Who are MBA applicants?

  • Despite a one-year decline, the long-term trend towards older MBA applicants continues, with the global average standing at 28.
  • Technology overtakes finance as the most commonly reported pre-MBA sector (12.6% compared to 11.8%).
  • Nearly two thirds of the global applicant pool are planning to fund their MBA through scholarships – up from 45% in 2008.
  • All regions are moving towards gender parity, with the exception of the US & Canada, in which the ratio has further skewed towards female candidates, who now account for 54% of applicants compared to 52%.

To find out more, download the whole report for free!

Written by Mansoor Iqbal

Mansoor is a contributor to and former editor of TopMBA.com. He is a higher and business education specialist, who has been published in media outlets around the world. He studied English literature at BA and MA level and has a background in consumer journalism.

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