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Employer MBA Hiring Projections Suggest It’s a Great Time to Go to Business School

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If you’re growing weary of all the MBA data forms and essays and interviews and anxiety—keep your eyes on the prize! That light at the end of the tunnel? Well, a recent employer poll from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) suggests it just keeps getting brighter.

Each November, GMAC conducts a short year-end poll of employers, asking them to reflect on what business school graduate hiring actually looked like that year and what they anticipate hiring to look like in the year ahead. GMAC’s most recent Year-End Poll of Employers Report, released yesterday, paints a promising picture of hiring trends for upcoming crops of graduating MBAs.

“We continue to see optimism—companies are still optimistic about the future, and they are expressing that in their desire to hire business school graduates,” says GMAC Director of Research Gregg Schoenfeld, one of the report’s author. “The overall message here is that it is a good time to go to business school and, from prospective candidates’ perspectives, it’s a good time to move forward on that goal to apply.”

Indeed, nearly eight out of every 10 employers (79 percent) say they expect to hire MBA graduates in 2017. That’s up from the 68 percent who hired MBAs in 2016. Of those planning to hire MBAs in 2017, almost as many (78 percent) say they plan to hire as many or more MBAs as they did the year before.

Not only do more employers expect to welcome MBAs into their ranks—the majority plan to pay them more as well. More than half—58 percent—said they expect to increase starting salaries for MBAs in 2017 at or above the rate of inflation. Another 40 percent report that they will maintain 2016 salary levels.

Explaining this bullishness, in part, is employers’ confidence in the value MBA graduates bring. In the most recent poll, 96 percent of responding recruiters said that hiring recent business school graduates creates value for their companies. And 71 percent cite bringing on MBAs and non-MBA business master’s graduates as a priority in their hiring plans.

GMAC’s 2016 Year-End Employer Poll surveyed 167 recruiters representing 140 companies in the United States and 26 other countries around the globe. Among the respondents were 36 companies in the Fortune 500, including 21 Fortune 100 firms. The majority of respondents—71 percent—were U.S. companies, which is typical for this survey, according to GMAC’s Schoenfeld.

The good news extends beyond MBAs—in fact, more employers plan to hire new employees in each candidate type they were asked about than they did in 2016. This includes candidates with master’s in accounting and management, as well as other business master’s, non-business master’s, bachelor’s and experienced business hires. Roughly a third (31 percent) expect to hire candidates with master’s degrees in management (31 percent) and accounting (29 percent).

MBA hiring projections
Source: GMAC 2016 Year-End Employer Poll Report