Doctoral education is a hot topic at business schools these days. Between the economic downturn and recovery, ongoing demand for highly skilled workers, and the continuing need for schools to find highly qualified faculty, questions about changes in the doctoral education landscape can be very important.
With the recent release of the report, The Promise of Business Doctoral Education, it seems like a great reason to take a closer look at some of the doctoral trends we have seen in AACSB’s annual data collection over the past 5 years. The following tables are based on a controlled set of 519 schools that participated in all year of the Business School Questionnaire from 2008-09 through 2012-13. Of these 519 schools, a subset of 186 schools reported doctoral data in at least one year and a subset of 119 schools reported doctoral data in all of the listed years.
The first place to look is at the number of applications being received by business schools. For the purposes of the annual survey, only actionable applications are counted, so these do not include incomplete or otherwise non-actionable applications received.
As you can see, whether controlled only for survey participation (includes schools who reported doctoral in only some years) or also for doctoral data (includes only schools that reported doctoral data in all years), the amount of applications received has been increasing steadily. The 2011-12 data shows a smaller increase than the other years, but the overall movement is positive in all years for these schools.
That seems great, but the next question becomes whether or not those applications are turning into offers of admission and actual entrants into the programs at these schools. To check that, we will take a look at the offers and entrants reported by these schools during the same time period.
For the offers of admission, you can see that while there has been growth in both data sets, it has not been keeping pace with the number of applicants. This could be due to a lower quality of applicants, limitations based on school resources, or a number of other factors that may affect why an applicant is not offered admission. With the large growth in the number of applicants, it may be the case that schools find themselves turning away students they would like to be able to admit or even drowning in a sea of unqualified applicants. In either case, it makes the work of the admissions office much more difficult.
The count of entrants (student who applied, were offered admission, and actually enrolled in classes at the school), has also increased but is still below the numbers of both applicants and offers of admission. This is to be expected in part because the most qualified students may receive offers of admission to multiple programs and can only choose to actually attend one of those schools. One interesting thing to note is that the entrants as a percent of applicants has decreased significantly due to the continuing growth in the number of applications received. For the data sub-set of schools that reported doctoral data in all years, the percent has decreased from approximately 9.9% of applicants in 2008-09 to only 6.6% of applicants in 2012-13.
It will be very interesting to continue to follow these trends and to see how these match up with trends in enrollments and degrees conferred. In a future post, we will take a look at both the enrollments and degrees conferred to see if that sheds any additional light on how doctoral education in business and management is continuing to adapt through these changing economic times.