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Biz School Boom

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More and more of you are applying to business schools, according to Business Week. This is great news is you are a b-school administrator but is it a sign that the economy is tanking?

Applications to full-time programs have been decreasing since the all-time high seen in 2002, when the dot-com bust and September 11 had people running to B-school to weather the economic storm...Yet this year's data show applications to full-time MBA programs returning to 1999 levels, even with more candidates opting for the increasing array of flexible MBA programs being offered.

We’re fascinated by what drives b-school applications. On the one hand, you might think that higher MBA salaries would drive up applications. Afterall, the potential reward for getting an MBA would be higher. One the other hand, higher MBA salaries often reflect booming economic times, meaning the cost of leaving even pre-MBA business work to enroll in a full-time program might be greater. During a boom, the opportunity costs of pursing an MBA can be pretty steep. What’s more, if you think the business cycle might take a turn for the worse after you graduate, you’ll have missed the boom and end up looking for a job during a downturn. So it makes some sense the good economic times would drive down b-school application.
On the, well, other other hand, entering b-school when everyone else is doing it decreases your chances of getting into the most prestigious schools while driving up the number of people who will be getting MBAs at the same time you graduate. You risk facing a glut of MBAs. So shouldn’t it be better to apply when the applicant pool is thinner?
We’ve looked but haven’t found the answer to this problem. Has anyone seen a study reflecting this? Or, perhaps more importantly, is there a way to hedge b-school risk?

B-School Is Hip Again
[Business Week]