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The Most Searched-For Business Schools On Google

Which business schools are potential applicants searching for the most? Where do they search from? Do they use desktop or mobile? We break down the data

Mon Jul 2 2018

The top of the business school applicant funnel is like a deep, dark jungle—vast, impenetrable in places, and tricky to navigate.

People express an early interest in applying to business school in a variety of ways—attending events, student fairs, speaking to students, contacting admissions staff directly—but most research starts in one place: online.

According to AIGAC’s 2018 MBA Applicant Survey, more than 80% of business school applicants target school websites as their most valuable source of information. And where does the search for business schools start? Google.

The more people searching for a school on Google, the more interest there is. Sure, people could be searching for a business school for any number of reasons, but you can bet that a good proportion will be potential applicants considering a degree program.

BusinessBecause decided to investigate this a little further. We took the world’s top-20-ranked business schools, according to the Financial Times’ Global MBA rankings, and analyzed each of their best-performing search terms on Google AdWords.

We wanted to find...

hat are the world’s most searched-for business schools on Google? And where do people search from?

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Here’s a few rules we set ourselves

We restricted our research to the 12 months between June 2017 and May 2018. We looked at global, English-language searches.

We chose the best-performing search terms for each school. Johnson Graduate School of Management only gets 590 average monthly searches. So, we went for Cornell Johnson at 2,400. Similarly, Judge Business School (4,400) was a better option than Cambridge Judge (800).

We didn’t choose any business school search term that could be confused with the university name or another word altogether.

Harvard on its own wouldn’t cut it. 550,000 people search ‘Harvard’ on average each month. But who knows if they’re looking for Harvard’s law school, medical school, divinity school, or something else? We focused on the 90,500 who search Harvard Business School. However, Wharton, the business school of the University of Pennsylvania, works just fine.

Results & Insight

INSEAD, Harvard, and Wharton are the world’s most searched-for business schools on Google in the Financial Times’ top-20, registering 90,500 global average monthly searches each.

London Business School (74,000 searches) is the world’s fourth most searched-for business school, while Columbia Business School, in fifth, records 27,100 average monthly searches.

Cornell Johnson (2,400) is our least searched-for business school, although potential applicants will likely search for the school under a variety of names. Cornell MBA (4,400) registers more average monthly searches.

Globally, just under half of searches—including those for related keywords—are done on mobile devices; most are done on desktop. Searches tend to peak in January—those ambitious New Year’s resolutions!

Top-ranked by the Financial Times, Stanford (search term: Stanford Business School) attracts 12,100 average monthly searches. 45.3% of those are from the US; 17.1% from India; 3.6% from the UK; 2.5% from Canada; and 1.7% from Germany. The remaining searches originate from a variety of countries around the world.

For a US school, Stanford attracts a strong percentage of searches from outside the country (54.7% from outside; 45.3% from inside), although eclipsed by Harvard Business School (68% from outside the US; 32% from inside) and MIT Sloan (56.1% outside; 43.9% inside).

The US schools which attract the highest percentage of searches from inside the country are Cornell Johnson (64.3% of searches come from inside the US), Haas School of Business (64.1%), and Tuck School of Business (60.5%).

Internet users in the US tend to use either desktop or mobile to search for business schools, although most searches from India are conducted on mobile.

INSEAD attracts a more diverse audience than the US schools. 14.4% of searches for INSEAD come from India; 14% France; 12.3% US; 5.6% UK; 4% Singapore.

Unsurprisingly, London Business School has a very strong footprint in the UK. 22.5% of Google searches come from the UK; 18.3% India; 8.5% US; 2.9% Germany; 2.7% Italy.

IESE Business School is the Spanish school with the highest percentage of searches from the US. 12.5% come from the US; 13.5% from Spain; 12% India; 4.6% Germany; 4.6% UK. The results are similar with a Spanish language search.

ESADE Business School’s 9,900 average monthly searches come mostly from India at 15.6%. 9.7% come from Spain; 9.5% US; 5.6% Germany; 4.8% UK.

IE Business School—not ranked by the Financial Times this year—attracts an impressive 40,500 average monthly searches; 18.3% from Spain; 11.5% India; 10.4% US; 4.5% UK; 3.5% Germany.

With Google blocked in China, the 5,400 monthly searches Shanghai-based CEIBS attracts are understandably low. In fact, if Google was widely used in China, search numbers would be boosted across the board. According to GMAC data, almost 60% of applicants from East and Southeast Asia target business schools in the US or UK.

China excluded, 14.3% of searches for CEIBS come from the US; 11.4% India; 4.9% Spain; 4.7% Japan; 4.1% UK. Searches for CEIBS tend to spike in March.

Hong Kong’s HKUST Business School sees 20% of its 2,900 average monthly searches originate from India. Singapore’s NUS Business School sees 47.4% of its searches come from within the country.

Just outside the Financial Times’ top-20, HEC Paris attracts 49,500 average monthly searches; 21.7% from France; 17.7% India; 8.3% US; 4.1% UK; 3.7% Germany.

Hult International Business School is one of the most searched-for outside the top tiers of the rankings tables, attracting 33,100 average monthly searches; 27.7% from the US; 12.8% India; 7.5% UK; 2.9% UAE; 2.8% Germany.

Here’s the world’s most searched-for business schools on Google:

This article was corrected and updated on July 5th 2018.