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The MBA’s Decline Is Now Even Affecting Elite Business Schools

The number of applicants to MBA programs was down for the fourth year in a row in 2018, the Wall Street Journal reports, a trend now affecting even the most elite universities.

Applications for U.S. business schools were down 7% from the previous year, the Graduate Management Admission Council found. As the economy has improved, more young professionals are loathe to give up well-paying jobs for the loans of business school. The biggest drop was among international students, who face more difficult visa processes after graduation in the Trump era.

Top business programs such as Harvard, Wharton and Stanford had been considered immune to the MBA downturn, but they also saw drops in applications this year: 4.5%, 6.7% and 4.6%, respectively.

GMAC President Sangeet Chowfla told WSJ it’s possible business school applications are bottoming out as the U.S. economy approaches its peak, but they could rise again in the next recession.

Specialized master’s programs are drawing away some applicants from traditional MBA programs, and business schools in Europe and Asia are also making for stiff competition. Applications rose by 8% for schools in Canada and 9% for schools in East and South Asia.

Earlier this year GMAC reported that the proportion of businesses intending to hire MBA graduates this year dropped to 85% this year from 91% last year.