Chinese enrollments increase for US MBA programs

Updated: 2014-05-08 07:17

By AMY HE in New York (China Daily USA)

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Chinese enrollments increase for US MBA programs
Students at the Leonard Stern School of Business at New York University. Chinese applicants to US graduate schools are declining, but Chinese enrollment to US MBA programs are increasing. [Amy He / China Daily]

New York-area schools that give a master’s degree in business administration are seeing an enrollment increase for students from China.

Crain’s New York Business, which said it tracks the best MBA programs in the New York area, reported last month that 13 of the top 25 business programs saw enrollment for international students increase"owing largely" to more Chinese students.

International students represented 27 percent of the entering class for 2013 at the schools, up 2 percent from the previous year, according to Crain’s.

Patrick Socci, dean of the business school at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York, said that domestic interest was"just not there" and schools had to rely on overseas students, and that the"Chinese market is overloaded".

A recent report by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) said that for the second year in a row applications from Chinese students to US graduate schools had declined.

Jeff Allum, director of research at the Washington-based council, said that business schools, on the other hand, saw a 7-percent increase in international applicants compared to last year.

"Business programs — US business programs — have long been popular amongst students from overseas, including Asia," Allum told China Daily."To see rises in the MBA numbers, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised."

The Institute of International Education (IIE), a non-profit organization that compiles data on international students, reported in November that in the 2012-2013 school year, Chinese students studying business/management made up 29 percent of the total number of Chinese international students studying in the US. Business students made up the biggest percentage, compared to the 19.2 percent studying engineering and the 11.2 percent studying math or computer science, according to the IIE data.

The percentages consist of undergraduate and graduate students, though Rajika Bhandari, head of research at IIE, said that business is generally one of the top areas of study for Chinese students on the graduate level as well.

"In general, both science and engineering and business fields are the most attractive to international students," Bhandari told China Daily."And when we look at that data for Chinese students, certainly business as well science and engineering are the fields that are most attractive to them as well."

However, Alex Chisholm, director of statistical analysis at the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), said that while many schools say China is still their No 1 source of students, Chinese interest has"moderated".

GMAC owns the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), a standardized test used widely by graduate business-school programs, similar to how undergraduate programs use the SAT scores to measure analytical skills from incoming applicants. More than 6,000 programs accept the GMAT, and Chisholm said that GMAC data shows that GMAT testing from Chinese citizens is leveling off and the rate of growth is slowing.

"For the first time in five or six year period, the percent of programs reporting increases in management and finance, which have been driven by the Chinese population, they turned negative for the first time in a five or six year period as well," he said.

Chisholm said that academic activity may be slowing in part due to the number of 20- to 29-year-olds in China decreasing, and also in part because of China’s slowing economic growth.