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Applications to US business schools are declining

Applications to American business schools, including MBA programs, have fallen for five straight years according to this recent WSJ article.

Compared to last year, business school applications to US schools are down about 9.1%; whereas they have been rising in other parts of the world. If you look at the change in applications from international students, the drop is even more significant — about 13.7%.

Here are two charts from the WSJ:

There are a couple of possible explanations for this. Tech is/has been hot. I would imagine that space has been absorbing many people who would have historically gone to do an MBA.

But perhaps more significantly, stricter immigration policies are making it harder for international students to come to the US. At the same time, top tier alternatives are emerging around the world, such as in China.

China exports more business school students than any other country and they are by far the largest international student base in the US. But the numbers are coming down. At the peak in 2015, the US issued nearly 275,000 student visas to people from China. By 2017, that number had more than halved to 112,817.

Out of curiosity, I decided to look up the class profile for the most recent Rotman MBA cohort (my alma mater). 70% of the class was born outside of Canada. That’s not surprising.

Charts: WSJ

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