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Current Business School And MBA Admissions Trends (AIGAC Conference 2022 Takeaways)

Last month, the Association of Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) held its annual conference in a virtual format where Admissions Officers from both US and European MBA programs spoke about recent trends and developments pertaining to their schools, MBA admissions, and the broader business world. Key takeaways from the conference are below.

Business will play a bigger role in a post-pandemic society

During the conference, a recurrent theme was the broader role that business will play in a post-pandemic world. For instance, Dean Bill Boulding of Duke’s Fuqua School of Business spoke about issues such as climate change, equity and justice, and supporting democracy and the increasing role of business when it comes to these areas. Dean Ann Harrison of Berkeley Haas mentioned how students are no longer interested in maximizing just shareholder value but also stakeholder value, citing the environment and climate change. In fact, Haas recently launched a Certificate in Sustainable Business “to empower new leaders to create the economic and social transition to a climate resilient, low-carbon, and equitable future.” Plans to support technological advances was another theme that emerged. As a result, training leaders towards these goals has never been more imperative, with MBA programs also emphasizing initiatives to spur innovation and entrepreneurship.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is becoming increasingly more important for MBA programs

DEI has always been a key focus area for business schools as they build out their MBA classes, but it has increasingly become even more important. This was stressed in various panels and fireside chats with admissions representatives from schools including Chicago Booth, Berkeley Haas, UCLA Anderson, Cornell Johnson, and HEC Paris. Admissions officers stressed that they seek diversity across multiple dimensions – for instance, neurodiversity, diversity of life experiences/thought, professional diversity, diversity in nationalities, diversity in economic background, etc. In addition, these programs shared some of the steps that they take to avoid bias in their application evaluation process including staff training focused on inherent biases and ensuring multiple sets of eyes on each application.

Business schools are also emphasizing this space in their curriculum. For example, Duke will be adding a concentration in the space of Diversity and Inclusion.

The strong job market in the US is resulting in uncertainty when it comes to applicant yield

More immediately, a sentiment that was echoed by many admissions officers is the uncertainty that they are facing when it comes to applicant yield for the Class of 2024 in the coming months given the strong US job market. Many admissions representatives spoke not only of competition between peer schools to attract candidates who have been accepted to multiple programs but also with employers as admitted candidates secure their dream jobs pre-MBA. As a result, there is an expectation that there will be more movement off the waitlist as we enter the late Spring and early Summer.

Overall, the conference generated very thoughtful and insightful discussion.

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