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Kaplan Test Prep Survey Finds That Business School Matriculants May Be Starting To Look More “Big Bang Theory” And Less “Apprentice”

As the job market for top talent shifts from investment banks to tech firms, a Kaplan Test Prep survey* of 140 business schools across the United States and Canada shows that 54% accepted more students from STEM backgrounds (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) for the 2013-2014 cycle compared to three years ago. Traditionally, the bulk of B-school students have come from more traditional fields such as consulting, marketing and business.

Reflecting a broader change in the business school education landscape, the increased acceptance of applicants from non-traditional backgrounds comes at a time when GMAT test taking volume is down and business schools are seeking new ways to attract top talent. Recent years have seen B-schools roll out a growing number of specialized master’s programs in areas like Accounting, Finance, Human Resources and Operations and an overall increase in the number of applicants to these programs**. Typically, these programs place less emphasis on an applicant’s employment experience in the admissions process; Kaplan’s survey showed that only 12% of business school admissions officers cited lack of relevant work experience as the biggest “application killer,” compared with 51% who said they would reject an applicant on the basis of a low entrance exam (GMAT or GRE) score. Related data from Kaplan’s survey shows that 39% of business schools accepted more students who applied directly from college than three years ago.

“Business school demographics are shifting, with growth coming from applicants who are younger, more international, and have STEM backgrounds -- and this is translating to growth in specialized master’s degree programs,” said Lee Weiss, executive director of pre-business and pre-graduate programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “A specialized master’s degree can be a great fit if an applicant knows they want to pursue a career in that particular field, while a traditional MBA provides broader options. Students exploring business school programs should think carefully about why they want to go to business school and how a particular degree can help them achieve their career goals.”

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