U.S. Business Schools Get More Competition From Abroad

U.S. graduate business schools are losing their iron grip on the thriving market for international M.B.A. students

At the 25 U.S. graduate-business programs that award the largest numbers of degrees to international students, applications for the 2011 fall semester declined 4%, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Council of Graduate Schools, based in Washington, D.C.

Although international applications to all American business schools rose by 4%, that figure paled in comparison to the 12% growth in international bids to U.S. programs offering degrees in engineering and physical and earth sciences, the survey said.

Business-school deans attribute the relatively sluggish growth to a growing number of high-quality competitors overseas.

"Schools throughout Europe, Asia and Australia have made huge investments in graduation education in general"more specifically, business school," said James Wimbush, dean of Indiana University's graduate school of business.

In other disciplines, international applications to U.S. graduate programs rose 9% in education, 8% in arts and humanities, 8% in life sciences, and 5% in social sciences and psychology, making business the field with the smallest increase.

The trend is evident in separate data from the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT, the most popular entrance exam for graduate programs in business.

GMAC sent less than 78% of its scores to U.S. schools in test-year 2010, ended last June 30, compared with 83% in test-year 2006. During that period, the total number of exams sent jumped to 779,000 from 601,000, according to the GMAC Web site.

In one indication of growing international demand for graduate degrees in business, non-U.S. citizens taking the GMAT outnumbered U.S. citizens for the first time ever in test-year 2009, and did so again in test-year 2010...

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