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From Promotions To Salaries: 10 Top Reasons Why Students Go To Business School

Thinking of studying a degree at business school? A new survey reveals the key reasons why students go to business school, including earning higher salaries and securing promotions

Wed Nov 8 2023

Studying at business school is about far more than just increasing your paycheck. Last week, the Association for MBAs (AMBA) released a survey revealing the top reasons why students pursue graduate business education. 

Over 1,100 business school students and graduates from 94 different countries responded to the online questionnaire. In total, 54% were enrolled in MBA programs.  

The survey quizzed students on multiple areas, including why they chose to go to business school, what factors came into their decision making, and what industries they wanted to enter after their degree. 

One particular question required respondents to select the top reasons why they decided to pursue a business degree. Here's what they said...

Why do students go to business school? 

*Hover over the interactive bars to reveal the results*

Overwhelmingly, the report found that the number one reason why students want to take up business education is to expand upon their area of expertise. In total, 74% of respondents said this was one of their main motivating factors. 

Many top MBA and business masters programs allow students to study business fundamentals while also gaining the chance to specialize in areas such as marketing, tech, finance, and entrepreneurship. 

A close second, 67% of respondents said that their main objective in studying was to learn more skills and to increase their overall knowledge of the business world. 

While the academic aspect of business school programs is important, schools typically place a large focus on developing student’s networking abilities, through events and alumni networks. 

This focus ensures that, in third place, 46% of students said the main allure of going to business school was the prospect of expanding their professional network. 

Not far behind, 45% of students also cited the ability to differentiate themselves in the job market, as well as the potential to change career paths, as their major driving forces. 

A further 44% said that they wanted to develop a broader understanding of how businesses should be managed, while an equal percentage highlighted the potential to increase their international mobility.

In eighth place, 40% focused on the increased ability to make more money in the long term, while 35% wanted to pursue a degree in order to build their confidence.

As the 10th most popular reason, 31% mentioned the desire to receive a promotion.

Other reasons for pursuing business education that were mentioned in the report included developing a sustainable business (29%), learning how to start a business (26%), and learning how to run a more profitable business (24%). 

Just 19% said that they wanted to learn how to run a more ethically sound business. 

Why is sustainability a lower priority for business school students? 

The considerably lower desire to create greener and more ethical businesses appear to be at odds with other key industry reports. 

For example, recent data from GMAC suggests that as many as 42% of prospective business students consider sustainability or Corporate Social Responsibility as curricular must-haves. 

However, it is important to consider the gender bias involved when evaluating the importance placed on sustainability and ethics for business school students. 

The same GMAC survey found that, when looking only at female students, the desire to learn about sustainability was at 52%, while it was at just 36% for male students. 

Therefore, the lesser emphasis placed upon sustainable businesses found in this report could potentially be explained by the fact that disproportionate numbers of the AMBA survey respondents were male (63%), while just 36% were female, and 1% did not disclose their gender.