The MBA admission 2020-2021 cycle was one of the most competitive yet. Historically MBA applications have always been trending down when the economy is doing well. As Covid-19 caused such a huge damage to the global economy, more people decided last year to apply to top MBA courses.

67% of business schools globally, reported increasing applications numbers in 2020-2021, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council.

43% of those schools reported application growth of over 20%. For many top schools, however, that number could be much higher (MIT Sloan had 33% more applicants lasy year, mainly due to their GMAT Waiver policy).

There are two reasons for this:

  1. International students who were unable to travel due to travel restrictions have deferred their admissions which contributed to an increase in competition for the next cycle.
  2. Many young professionals who have been let go from their jobs were also in large number in hopes to come out with new skills and a strong job market after their life changing top MBA.

International students, in particular, faced the most uncertainty during the pandemic and were more likely to defer their studies from 2020 to 2021. The decision to quit your job, possibly move to a brand new country, and enroll in a full-time MBA program is a huge one even in normal times. Naturally, the pandemic has instilled in everyone a sense of caution, and rightly so. As the situation was beyond their control, the school just could not say no to many deferrals.

As competition grew, the quality of the applicants rose as well. As Covid affected all the industries – the schools saw a much more diverse pool with significant industry and leadership experience and solid career aspirations.

While some schools have waived testing requirements, the median GMAT score for Oxford Saïd’s MBA class, at 690, is higher than in previous years. Duke Fuqua has agreed that the class of 2023 (total students: 447) is the strongest and most diverse class ever.

Unarguably, the MBA admission 2021 cycle was objectively more competitive, and applicants had to step up and demonstrate how they can be the leaders that business schools are looking for a successful application.

The bars have been set and the expectations would be higher for the Fall 2022 candidates now.