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B-School Candidates More Interested In Personal Development Than Salary Boost, Study Reveals

Across gender, region, and generation, b-school candidates increasingly see business education as an opportunity to enrich their lives, a new study reports

Thu Apr 13 2023

Business school candidates are less motivated by salaries and more interested in personal fulfillment, according to the 2023 Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Prospective Students Survey.  

Surveying 2,710 respondents across the globe in 2022, the study found that 79% of business school candidates are motivated to join business school programs to develop their potential. This was the top motivator across gender, region, and generation.

In second-place, business school candidates cited salary increase (64%) as a key motivator, followed by gaining business knowledge (61%) in third. 

Despite sharing similar motivations for joining business school, the study found that women are more likely to pursue business school to increase their income and secure their current job than men.

Systemic issues such as the gender pay gap and gender diversity problems in sectors such as tech—where women are reportedly 65% more likely to be affected by layoffs—are just a few possible explanations of why female business school candidates are more likely to be motivated by these factors. 

The study found regional differences in the next-best reason for pursuing business school. Changing industry or job function was the answer for candidates from Asia/Pacific Islands and the Middle East or Africa. Increasing income was second for European and Latin American candidates, and gaining business knowledge was the next-best reason for North American candidates.

Among Gen Z business school candidates, the report found the younger generation were 10% more likely to be motivated by salary increase and network exposure. 

Millennials on the other hand were found to be more interested in business school as a means of changing industry or job function (69%), compared with 48% of Gen Zers.

Such variations can be afforded to the different career stage that these demographics find themselves at, with Gen Z more likely to be in the early stages of their career while millennials search for transformational experiences. 

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