Business school applications were down for the second year in a row, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council (www.gmac.com), which conducts annual application trends surveys. The 2004 survey, in which 238 programs from 143 schools participated, found that full-time, traditional two-year programs suffered the most. On the upside, more than half of executive MBA programs reported an increase in applications. "This could be because corporations often underwrite their employees' tuition," says Daphne Atkinson, GMAC's vice president of industry relations.
For the traditional programs, economics and demographics played an important role in determining application volume. "Not only is the economy lurching towards recovery, but there are fewer international students applying because of safety concerns and visa issues," Atkinson says. In fact, most grad programs across the board are experiencing a decline in applications.
Nonetheless, Atkinson is cautiously optimistic about the future of student interest in MBA programs. "We have a population bulge under age 25 that is larger than the baby boomer generation," she says. "They're just starting to graduate from undergraduate programs. By 2006-2007, they will be a major factor in determining the landscape."