MBA and business master’s degrees remain hot commodity despite recession fears and COVID challenges
The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a global association of leading graduate business schools, released its annual hiring report, the GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey – 2022 Summary Report. The report explores the state of employer demand for graduate business school talent (MBA and business master’s degree recipients) in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and includes responses from nearly 1,000 corporate recruiters and staffing firms around the world. While rising inflation and the war in Ukraine were just at the onset during the time when the survey was conducted in February and March 2022, hiring projections of graduate management education (GME) graduates remain bullish this year, with 92 percent of corporate recruiters expecting to hire newly minted MBAs. Promisingly, 2 in 3 responding corporate recruiters describe the current direction of their organization as expanding or growing (67%) and a similar proportion plan to increase their overall headcount (65%). Also, most recruiters (63%) project that demand for new business school talent will increase in the next five years, with business master’s hiring intention the highest among recruiters for East and Southeast Asia and Middle East companies.
“The latest GMAC findings of the Corporate Recruiters Survey show that nearly 9 out of 10 corporate recruiters feel confident or highly confident in the ability of business schools to prepare students to be successful in their organizations,” said Sangeet Chowfla, president and CEO of GMAC. “That’s an extraordinary figure. It shows that despite the pandemic and the limitations it brought on student mobility, public and mental health, and remote learning, business schools managed to find ways to build an impressive cohort whom corporate recruiters and staffing agencies worldwide continue to bank on as prime sources for talent.”
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Other Key Findings
MBA starting salaries continue to provide a premium and Business master’s median starting salaries are on the rise
Recruiter responses suggest companies in the United States plan to offer increased starting salaries to business master’s graduates in 2022 compared to last year. In addition, median MBA starting salary levels eclipse those being offered to bachelor’s graduates by 22 percent to 40 percent across the world regions for which there is sufficient sample to report. Median starting salaries are largest in the United States, where the median starting salary offered to new MBA hires this year ─ US$115,000 — has remained unchanged for the past three survey years. In the current inflationary environment, the relative stability of median MBA salaries suggested by the survey findings means the real value of MBA salaries is declining.
In a likely response to combat the effect of inflation, corporate recruiters look to benefits packages—including educational assistance—to meet the changing needs of new graduates. Educational assistance like tuition reimbursement and scholarships has become an increasingly common benefit, with 54 percent offering it in 2022—up from 35 percent last year.
U.S. international hiring bounced back to pre-pandemic levels with potential of continued growth for 2022
The world regions with the highest percentage of recruiters affirming that they plan to hire international candidates in 2022 are the Middle East (52%) and Western Europe (40%). In the United States, this year’s survey results suggest an improving situation for international MBA and business master’s graduates. Looking back at last year’s actual hiring, 43 percent of U.S. recruiters confirmed they hired international talent in 2021—a bounce back from 35 percent in 2020 and 41 percent in 2019. In this year’s survey, 56 percent of U.S. recruiters say that they either plan to make international hires in 2022 (35%) or are willing to (21%), up from 48 percent that said the same in the 2021 survey. Furthermore, 83 percent of U.S. tech companies say they either plan to make international hires in 2022 (62%) or are willing to (21%)—the most of any U.S. industry.
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“As travel restrictions ease around the world and student mobility continues to bounce back, we are thrilled to have more international students back on campuses across the country. Our mission is to help our students find success and our graduates reap the benefits of the strong job market in the U.S.,” said incoming GMAC Board Member and Dean of Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou.
Global corporate recruiters appear to be becoming more accepting of online degrees—with the noteworthy exception of the United States
The percentage of global recruiters who view graduates of online and in-person GME programs equally increased from 34 percent in 2021 to 60 percent in 2022, suggesting a significant growth in the acceptance of online programs. However, the notable outlier is corporate recruiters in the United States—where the lion’s share of the world’s online MBA enrollments are. Among responding U.S. corporate recruiters, just 29 percent agree that they view graduates of online and in-person GME programs equally, the lowest of any world region and down from 33 percent of respondents from the 2021 sample.
“The growth of online MBA programs has been so strong in the United States that for the first time, the total number of enrollments in online programs exceeded that of full-time, in-person MBA enrollments in the 2020-21 academic year, according to data from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB),” said Sabrina White, vice president of school and industry engagement at GMAC. “Business schools are presented a unique opportunity to align expectations and outcomes for graduates and employers as online delivery emerges from the pandemic as an important part of the graduate management education industry.”
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