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Who Influences Candidates’ GME Choices?

Posted by GMAC Research
The premier provider of market intelligence for graduate management education

Posted on Apr 10, 2018 11:15:00 AM

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Deciding to pursue a graduate management education is a big decision in candidates’ lives, and like any big life decision most candidates depend on the opinions of others to help guide their choices. Understanding who is influencing the decisions of different types of candidates can give business school admissions and recruitment professionals insight into candidates’ mindsets and behaviors, and help them better position the value proposition of their programs to align with candidates’ goals.

As a part of the Prospective Students Survey, business school candidates were asked to indicate who has influenced their decision to pursue a graduate business degree. Viewing the results by candidates’ preferred program type (full-time MBA or business master’s) reveals some interesting differences. For example, candidates preferring business master’s programs are more likely than candidates preferring full-time MBA programs to say college/university professors (30%) and career/school advisors (20%) influenced their decision, whereas full-time MBA candidates are more likely to say people in business (41%) and co-workers (22%) influenced their decision.

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These differences largely correlate to where these types of candidates typically are in their careers when they decide to apply. Business master’s candidates, who typically are either still enrolled as undergraduates or just completed their bachelor’s, are more likely to have on-campus influencers. Full-time MBA candidates, on the other hand, who typically have been working for three to seven years, are more likely to have influencers in their workplace. Interestingly, even though business master’s candidates are younger on average, there is only a three percentage point difference in their level of parental influence compared with full-time MBA candidates (37% vs. 34%). This just goes to show that while candidates may be at different career stages, the influence of their parents’ hopes and desires remains relatively strong.

For more business school candidate trends, check out the 2018 Prospective Students Survey Interactive Data Research Tool at, which enables you to explore the survey question-by-question and filter the data by a variety of geographic, demographic, and psychographic characteristics of prospective business school students. This resource is made available exclusively to school professionals at GMAT-accepting institutions ( login required).

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Topics: Research Insights

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