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Full-time MBA Programs Continue to Decline; Specialty Degrees Up

Full-time, two-year Masters of Business Administration applications have gone down 9.9% in the last year, according to the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC). This is the third consecutive year that MBA programs have seen a decrease in interest, and a third of full-time MBA programs reported losses of more than 10%. This encompasses 649 business programs at 331 schools across the globe, and comes from a study conducted by the GMAC every year from early June to the middle of July.

GMAC's CEO, Dave Wilson, released this statement on the council's website:

"The caution in this year's survey for full-time MBA programs is unsurprising in the current economy as students weigh the financial and time commitments required to pursue a graduate business degree. Still, the steadiness reflected in executive and part-time MBA programs, specialized master's programs and the growth among international applications shows the value people continue to place on graduate management degrees as investments in their career and future."

Since business schools across the globe saw record enrollment in 2008 amidst economic crises, it was anticipated that numbers would diminish in the years following. However, full-time programs seem to be the only ones really taking a hit. About fifty-four percent of part-time Masters of Business Administration programs reported the same or higher numbers of applicants compared to last year, while fifty-eight percent of executive MBA programs saw equal or higher numbers. This suggests that students are simply working their graduate education in around their existing jobs, and not that overall graduate school applications are in decline.

The GMAC reports that the academic credentials of applicants are equal to or better than last year for eighty-nine percent of full-time MBA programs. Thirty-nine percent of programs thought applicants were better qualified than the previous year, and fully half of programs said applicants had the same qualifications. Acceptance rates for full-time MBA programs have stayed constant, and registration for the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is rising quickly despite the drop in MBA enrollment. This likely indicates that the trend of declining applications will turn around in the next few years.

Meanwhile, the Law School Admission Council, based in Newtown, Pennsylvania, shows nearly a ten percent drop in law school applications for Fall 2011. Their numbers went from 87,500 in 2010 to 78,900 this year. "People are really thinking more carefully about why they want to go to law school and what their goals are," said Wendy Margolis, spokeswoman for the LSAC.

On the positive side, eighty-three percent of Masters of Finance programs saw an increase in applicants, compared to sixty-nine percent of Masters in Management and fifty-one percent of Masters in Accounting programs.

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