width=200Applications for full-time MBA programs have dropped considerably for the second year in a row, according to a recent GMAC survey.

The Graduate Management Admission Council's 2010 GMAC Application Trends Survey shows that, for the second year running, fewer business schools reported an increase in applications for their full-time MBA programs: 44% of full-time MBA programs saw applications rise this year, down from 66% last year and 77% in 2008, when applications to these programs peaked, GMAC explains.

The survey, which analyses data supplied by 327 business schools for admissions to MBA programs commencing in September 2010, reports a higher demand for their executive MBA (EMBA) programs: 59% of these programs saw more applications in 2010 than they did a year ago, compared with the 37% that reported gains a year ago. This reverses a one-year slide that coincided with the deepest part of the [recent global recession].

Part-time MBAs

Meanwhile, applications for part-time MBA programs appear to be back on the increase. The QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey of 2010 indicates that more MBA candidates than ever are looking for shorter MBA programs. Ross Geraghty, managing editor of TopMBA.com, says: Almost 60% of respondents to our survey are looking for courses shorter than 18 months. Only three years ago this was the opposite, a trend suggesting an international preference for the shorter European style MBA over the longer American model.

Flexibility in delivery of MBA programs is more important than ever, however, with full time, part time, distance learning, online and executive MBAs on offer worldwide. The findings from this survey underscore the importance of flexibility and creativity in delivering management education, explains Dave Wilson, president and chief executive officer of GMAC, which organises the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Many changing factors affect the kinds of programs that best meet [applicant's] needs. Applicants need to find the very best fit for their own game plan.

It's probable that the downturn is cyclical, GMAC continues: After several years of strong growth, the number of applications typically reaches a high point and trends down afterwards. We are witnessing slight decreases in most programs. It appears that full-time MBA programs have reached this turning point, GMAC points out.