Three in Four Companies Plan to Hire MBAs in 2019 [EFMD]

September 13, 2019

Three in Four Companies Plan to Hire MBAs in 2019 [EFMD]

The results of the Corporate Recruiters Survey 2019 reflect the trends in the broader economy, including the plans of companies to grow and expand, and reveal the optimistic hiring projections for specialised master’s graduates.

More than 1,200 employers worldwide responded to the 2019 Corporate Recruiters Survey, run by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) together with survey partners MBA Career Services and Employer Alliance (MBA CSEA), EFMD, and Highered, in association with career services offices at 116 participating graduate business schools worldwide.

“Employers clearly place a high value on acquiring MBA and business master’s graduates,” said Sangeet Chowfla, President and CEO of GMAC. “We are seeing a highly active candidate marketplace in terms of geographical shifts in study destinations, but the value that both employers and graduates see in graduate business education is a constant.”

We hope that the report’s findings provide business school graduates with better insights into the labour market and enable companies to keep abreast with the projections of other organisations and industries.

The companies’ outlook

Overall, 2 in 3 responding companies plan to expand and grow in 2019 (64%). The percentage is the highest in the United States (66%), followed by Europe (59%), and the Asia-Pacific (57%). Looking at the distribution across industries, the tech sector is the most likely to grow, followed by consulting and health care.

Compared to last year’s actual hiring, a more significant share of companies intend to bring in business school talent in 2019, including MBA and Master in Management (MiM) graduates. This trend has been true over the past several years.

Hiring trends of MBA and MiM graduates

Let’s take a closer look at MBA programmes.

While MBA hiring projections remain strong relative to historic trends, for the second consecutive year, a smaller proportion of companies overall report plans to hire MBA talent compared with the previous year. Among US employers, 77% plan to hire MBA talent this year, down for the second consecutive year. Nearly nine in 10 (87%) companies in Asia-Pacific plan to hire MBAs in 2019—the highest share of any world region, though off slightly compared with last year. In Europe, nearly 7 in 10 companies plan to hire MBAs in 2019, up from 2018 projections (69%).

Globally, 76% of companies plan to hire MBAs in 2019, compared to 67% of companies that hired MBA graduates in 2018.

Consistent with past years, larger companies are the most likely to hire MBA talent in 2019.

Looking at the company type, it is interesting to see the biggest leap in demand for MBA talent among start-up companies. The projected rate in 2019 reaches 62%, which is 17% higher than the actual hiring ratio noted in 2018.

The hiring outlook for Master in Management (MiM) talent has cooled among the US, European, and Asia-Pacific employers, with hiring projections for 2019 being slightly lower than in previous years. In the US, MiM remains a less popular degree relative to Europe and Asia-Pacific, which is therefore reflected in lower projected hiring rates (33%).

MiM hiring demand is strongest among companies in the consulting, products and services, and manufacturing industries.

A variety of business masters are in demand

This year’s survey is the second time trending data on the hiring outlook for Master of Data Analytics talent has been collected. Overall, the degree sees the most significant increase between the 2018 actual hiring rate (37%) and the 2019 projected hiring rate (52%).

When it comes to the recruitment trends for Masters in Accounting and Finance, both masters are increasingly sought after in the Asia-Pacific region, while the hiring projections are rather steady in Europe and decreasing in the United States.

About 2 in 3 companies overall seek talent from a variety of other specialised business master’s program types in 2019. In Europe, 42% of employers plan to hire graduates from the field of economics. Asia-Pacific employers showed interest in marketing graduates (36%), and companies coming from the United States plan to onboard graduates from the field of information technology (26%).

Overall, among other business master’s degrees, the Master of Information Technology tops the list of sought-after talent across all company types, followed by the Master of Supply Chain and the Master of Marketing.

Top functions for business graduates

The survey reveals the top three functions companies want to see filled with MBA graduates in 2019. The three vacancies are occupied by strategy/innovation, finance, and business intelligence/analytics, respectively. Consulting is the most common job for new MBAs in the Asia Pacific and Europe while Strategy and finance are the most common in the US.

The MiM graduates are expected to take on roles in the areas of finance, consulting, and project management, as the intentions of employers reveal. Taking a closer look at the job functions to be occupied by Master in Management graduates in Europe, 53% of employers expect to onboard consulting graduates, and 60% of Asia-Pacific employers are willing to place MiM new hires into marketing roles.


Boost in median starting salaries

Overall, most employers plan to increase the starting salaries of MBA graduates in 2019 (56%), including 63% of Asia-Pacific employers, 56% of US employers, and 49% of European employers.

Median annual base starting salaries vary considerably across world regions. The median annual base starting salary for MBA graduates is the highest on record in US companies. US companies plan to offer new MBA hires in 2019 USD115,000, more than double the median for new bachelor’s degree hires (USD55,000) and the highest ever recorded in the US when adjusted for inflation. The highest median starting salary in the United States is earned in the consulting sector.

Most European companies plan to maintain salaries at 2018 levels. The starting median salary of an MBA graduate in the European region is projected to be EUR 95,000, and the median for Asia-Pacific companies is EUR 45,000.

Median salaries vary across global regions and by companies. MBAs, however, have a head start over other candidate types.

International hiring and placement

Overall, 42% of responding employers hired international talent in 2018 – the same percentage as 2017 and down from 49% in 2016.

Plans for hiring international candidates in 2019 are mixed, but employers maintain a high level of interest.

International hiring is on the rise among European and Asia-Pacific companies. 71% and 69% of European and Asia-Pacific employers, respectively, plan to hire international talent in 2019, both up from recent years.

US companies’ hiring plans continue to decline and plateau. 48% of US employers either plan to or are willing to hire international candidates in 2019, nearly the same as in 2018 (47%), and down from 55% in 2017.

Reasons for not hiring international talent differ across world regions, from uncertainty about future policies and laws in the case of US employers to the availability of local talent, expenditures or language barriers, cited by both European and Asia-Pacific employers.

“In recent years, we have reported on the decline in US companies hiring international students,” said Megan Hendricks, Executive Director for the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance. “While the data in this year’s GMAC report holds steady with regard to US businesses’ plans to hire foreign talent, we hope the recent H-1B visa rule change will encourage more international students to take a long look at studying and working in the US.”


The outlook is rather favourable for business school interns, who are to be taken on board by 55% of companies overall. More than a half of European companies plan to enrol business master’s interns (57%) when compared to US employers (23%) or Asia-Pacific companies (34%), who favour MBA interns instead.

“This year’s GMAC report on MBA and GME hiring trends shows the tremendous opportunities graduates have when they finish their business studies,” said Eric Cornuel, Director General & CEO of EFMD. “The growth of quality business schools around the world has also been met with increased employment opportunities for graduates in emerging markets and regional economies.” “Now is an exciting time to be pursuing an MBA and a business master’s degree.”

We hope that the findings and trends in hiring demands for MBA and business master’s graduates will assist you in staying current and better anticipating graduate career opportunities.

To download the full report, visit the GMAC website or contact Geoffrey Basye from GMAC for press requests.



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