Globally, 43% of MBA programmes were taught online in 2020 despite only 12% of programmes being intended to be taught this way, according to new research from the Association of MBAs (AMBA).
The AMBA Application and Enrolment Report 2021 also found that despite global turbulence, the volume of applications received by each Business School increased by a worldwide average of 7% from 2019 to 2020. The volume of applications received by each individual programme increased by an average of 9% in the same timeframe.
Changes to MBA demand among AMBA-accredited Business Schools, 2019-20 (216 participating Schools)
Numbers reveal extent of the great shift online
- Globally, programmes taught in the classroom decreased by 55 percentage points between 2019 and 2020.
- Programmes taught online increased by 36 percentage points from 7% in 2019 to 43% in 2020.
MBA student recruitment
- Globally, the volume of applications received by each Business School increased by an average of 7% from 2019 to 2020. The volume of applications received by each individual programme increased by an average of 9% in the same timeframe.
- Application volume per programme increased by 45% in Africa, 23% in India and 22% in the UK from 2019 to 2020.
Diversity in MBA programmes
- The global average proportion of women enrolling onto MBA programmes rose by one percentage point between 2019 and 2020, from 38% to 39%.
- Globally, the proportion of international applicants to MBA programmes increased by an average of one percentage point, while the number of international students enrolled decreased by one percentage point between 2019 and 2020.
- In 2020, North America and the Caribbean saw a decrease of seven percentage points in its proportion of international applicants and a decrease of eight percentage points in its proportion of international students enrolled, when compared to 2019 figures.
MBA programmes in the AMBA-accredited network in 2020 (238 participating Schools)
Numbers reveal extent of the great shift online
- Globally, 76% of MBA teaching was intended to be classroom-based, but only 29% of courses were ultimately carried out in a classroom.
- 41% of courses were carried out online when only 11% were originally intended to be taught online.
MBA student recruitment
- The global conversion rate among AMBA-accredited Business Schools in 2020 was 32%.
- Globally, the acceptance rate was 44%.
- The global average yield for AMBA-accredited Business Schools was 73%.
- Globally, the conversion rate for international students was significantly lower than that of domestic students (27% vs. 34%).
Diversity in MBA programmes
- Globally, 40% of applicants and 39% of those enrolled were female.
- International students outnumbered their domestic counterparts among those enrolling in Business Schools in the UK in 2020, representing 54% of all those enrolling. This was the only country/region in which the average proportion of international students enrolled was more than 50%.
Year-on-year comparisons between 216 AMBA-accredited Business Schools that provided their application and enrolment data for both 2019 and 2020
Globally, there was an increase of 7% in applications per Business School and an increase of 9% to individual programmes from 2019 to 2020, indicating that demand for MBA programmes across the AMBA network grew between 2019 and 2020.
The region with the most significant increase in applications was Africa, which had an increase of 45% in applications per School and per programme. Per School, the second-largest increase was in Oceania, where applications rose by 31%. This was followed by the UK, where Schools reported an average increase of 26%. The largest drop in demand was in Asia and the Middle East, where the volume of applications fell by 15%.
On a global scale, the average number of enrolments onto AMBA-accredited MBA programmes was remarkably similar in 2019 and 2020, with no change at a programme level and drop of just 1% at the whole-School level.
Globally, the proportion of women applying to MBA programmes remained at 40% between 2019 and 2020, with no region experiencing a change of more than a single percentage point. The global average proportion of women enrolling onto MBA programmes rose by one percentage point, from 38% to 39% in the same timeframe.
The conversion rate – defined as the percentage of applicants who ultimately enrolled onto a programme – dropped from 36% in 2019 to 34% in 2020 among female applicants worldwide, while the equivalent rate among male applicants dropped from 39% to 36%.
International applications and enrolments
On average globally, the proportion of international applicants increased by one percentage point, while the number of international students enrolled decreased by one percentage point.
Globally, the conversion rate for domestic students dopped from 41% in 2019 to 38% in 2020, on average, and the international conversion rate dropped from 31% in 2019 to 27% in 2020.
Although these declines hint at the turbulence caused by Covid-19, the figures present a remarkably stable picture of international admissions to MBA programmes at AMBA-accredited Business Schools, given the circumstances. However, it should be noted that the reporting period includes programmes that commenced early in 2020 and before much of Covid-19’s disruption had taken hold.
Comparing firstly the intended mode of delivery in 2020 to that used in 2019 shows some evidence of programmes moving away from a classroom approach to blended or online teaching, even before the impact of Covid-19 is considered. If programmes had been taught in the way they were intended in 2020, the classroom teaching mode would have decreased by eight percentage points, from 83% to 75%.
However, these changes seem insignificant when comparing the mode of delivery in 2019 with the actual most-used mode of delivery in 2020, showing the impact and disruption caused by Covid-19. Globally, programmes taught in the classroom decreased by 55 percentage points between 2019 and 2020. Programmes taught online increased by 36 percentage points from 7% in 2019 to 43%, again when looking at the most-used delivery mode in 2020.
Analysis of 238 AMBA-accredited Business Schools that provided their MBA programme application and enrolment data for 2020
Applications and enrolments
Globally, there was an increase in the number of applicants at both the level of a Business School’s full portfolio of programmes and at the individual programme level between 2019 and 2020, while enrolments remained largely consistent.
The average number of applications globally received by each programme increased from 153 in 2019 to 167 in 2020. At the whole-School level, the number of applications increased from an average of 576 in 2019 to 637 in 2020.
Enrolments fell by a fraction, from a global average of 54 students per programme in 2019 to 53 per programme in 2020, and from 203 per Business School in 2020, to 202 in 2020.
Globally, 40% of applicants and 39% of those enrolled were female.
China (including Hong Kong, China) was the only country/region with equal proportions of male and female enrolments. Oceania was the next closest region to achieving a gender balance with female students representing 45% of those enrolled. India had the most unequal cohorts for gender, with women representing only 27% of applicants and 24% of enrolees in 2020.
The conversion rate for women, globally, was 31% in 2020. This is slightly lower than the global average for men of 33%.
Globally, 30% of those applying to AMBA-accredited Business Schools are defined as international applicants and 25% of those enrolled are classified as international students.
International students outnumbered their domestic counterparts among those enrolling in Business Schools in the UK in 2020. Representing 54% of all those enrolling, the UK was the only country/region in which the average proportion of international students enrolled was more than 50%.
Globally, 76% of MBA teaching was intended to be classroom-based, with 13% of programmes intended to be taught using blended delivery and 11% intended to be taught online. Classroom teaching was the most common intended mode of delivery in all regions, ranging from a proportional high of 93% in China (including Hong Kong, China) to a low of 58% in the UK.
Yet, the disruption caused by the events of 2020 meant that only 29% of courses were ultimately carried out in a classroom, on a worldwide scale. Instead, a further 29% were taught using a blended method, and the remaining 41% of courses were carried out online.
Andrew Main Wilson, CEO of the Association of MBAs and Business Graduates Association (AMBA & BGA) said: ‘I am delighted to publish the AMBA Application and Enrolment Report 2021.
‘This year’s study paints the most up-to-date picture of the profile of the AMBA network, and how AMBA-accredited Schools are performing in the MBA market. The Covid-19 pandemic began to impact Business Schools just weeks into the calendar year of 2020, and the data included in this report provides precious insight from a time of great uncertainty in the global economy and the geopolitical landscape.
‘The results from this study demonstrate the continued excellence of AMBA-accredited Business Schools and their ability to expand their programmes in this ever-more demanding higher education landscape.
‘Outlined in this report are findings from the 2020 calendar year, using reported figures from AMBA-accredited programmes. It incorporates data from almost all AMBA-accredited Business Schools from that year. I am also delighted to say that this study represents AMBA’s largest synthesis of applications and enrolments, with 244 Schools contributing to this year’s study. Their contribution reflects the continued growth of AMBA’s network of world-class MBA programmes.
‘We hope that these findings will provide useful knowledge to the Business School community, and the management education sector more broadly, as AMBA seeks to enhance understanding of MBA demand and delivery today. I would like to thank all the Business Schools that have contributed to this valuable study. Without their input, this piece of research would simply not be possible. We greatly appreciate the many colleagues who have taken the time to complete the response templates.’
To view the full report, click here.
For more information or interviews, please contact:
- David Woods-Hale, Director of Marketing and Communications, AMBA & BGA – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ellen Buchan, Insight and Communications Executive, AMBA & BGA – email@example.com
In April 2020, data sheets were sent to 268 Business Schools that were accredited by AMBA in that same year. The data sheets asked Schools to provide relevant application and enrolment figures for their MBA, MBM and DBA programmes, and any other AMBA-accredited programmes delivered by the Business School in the calendar year of 2020. In total, 244 AMBA-accredited Business Schools returned their data, representing a response rate of 91%.
Due to the different start and end dates of programmes across Schools, data was collected for the whole calendar year of 2020 (1 January – 31 December) to ensure valid comparisons could be made.
As well as data pertaining to applications, offers, enrolment and graduation, supplementary data on applicants’ gender and geographic background (domestic vs. international) was collected, as was data on the method and mode of programme delivery.
The findings presented in this report are based on data provided in relation to MBA programmes only. Data collected in relation to MBM (Master’s in Business and Management) and DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) programmes are not analysed in this report. Meanwhile, the ‘graduate’ figures cited in the report are based on the number of individuals who completed a programme in 2020.
In instances where figures do not add up to 100% or to a combined sum, this is due to rounding.