Drop In MBA Applicants A Sign Of Economic Recovery?

“Maybe I should finally get my MBA,” is a thought that went through the heads of many an out-of-work or underemployed college graduate during the last few years. But the allure of becoming a master of business administration has faded in the last year, as the number of business school applicants has taken a nose dive.

According to the Graduate Management Admission Council, the evil geniuses behind the Graduate Management Admission Test, applications to two-year full-time MBA programs fell 22% between 2011 and 2012.

Of course, this decline comes after a few years of many schools being snowed under by applicants looking for something to do other than watch three hours or Springer, Maury and Steve Wilkos every afternoon.

The assistant dean of admissions at Columbia University’s business school tells the Wall Street Journal that its 19% drop in applicants is likely due to potential applicants now having jobs they can’t leave (or don’t want to risk leaving) in order to attend classes full-time.

Another, less silver-lined, possible reason for the decline in applicants is that the current blah condition of the economy may have potential applicants worried about going deeper into debt for a program without a guarantee that it will pay off quickly upon graduation.

Both reasons could explain the global increase in applications for part-time, online and executive MBA programs that allow students to keep working while they study.

Not all programs have seen huge declines in applicants, with UCLA’s Anderson School of Management actually experiencing a whopping 22% increase in applications, which the school attributes to marketing efforts. Meanwhile, the University of Virginia saw an 8.9% jump in applicants to its Darden School of Business, a growth that I’m going to speculate, with absolutely no bias whatsoever, is due to the fact that UVa is frickin’ awesome. (Go ‘Hoos!)

B-School Applicants Decline for Four Years [WSJ.com]