Top U.S. colleges report a decline in MBA applications for 2024

Some of the top business schools in the country, including Harvard, Yale, and UPenn, are seeing a notable decline in applications for 2024, according to a new report.

Video transcript

SEANA SMITH: Business school applications are on the decline. The Journal reporting a large drop for some of the most competitive programs in the country. Harvard has seen a 15% drop in applications. Wharton is down 13%. University of Chicago off by more than 10%. The reason-- a competitive labor market and the cost of a degree are keeping some people from going back to school.

Rachelle, taking a look at the survey here by [INAUDIBLE]-- this is a company that advises prospective students on applying to business school. Cost a big factor there. They also, though, mentioned that people are simply too busy at work these days. The pandemic's impact on the school experience, the potential for promotion at their current job. I think a lot of it, though, has to do with cost. Some of these most competitive programs can cost up to $200,000 for a two-year program. That really sets people back, clearly.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: I mean, you figure when you're in a point right now where you have 40-year high inflation, you're trying to figure out your priorities, that's probably something you're going to put on the back burner. Obviously, getting an MBA not the only way to have a business to grow a business.

And I think people are sort of being a lot more choosy about that. When you do have a tight labor market where you have a choice of perhaps progressing without needing an MBA because a lot of employers are looking for talent, that also puts things like this on the back burner. But as we're seeing for 2023 and 2024, those applications going down. So an interesting trend, though, for sure.

DAVE BRIGGS: Proper perspective is needed here because most of these schools are coming off of record high applications. So there's only really one way to go. Sloan School of Management, for example, at MIT down a staggering 25%, again, from a record high, more than 7,000.

What I'm hearing from parents because I have a kid who's about to go to colleges, they're looking for programs where they can get it all done at once-- four years, a undergrad and an MBA. There's a school, St. John's is now offering a law degree and undergrad in five years. That's what parents are looking for. And it really does come back to cost.

SEANA SMITH: A lot more bang for your buck if you're able to do both of those at the same time.