Primary motivations for pursuing an MBA among applicants from emerging economies

The recently published QS Applicant Survey 2013 provides a detailed insight into the attitudes, goals and ambitions of MBA applicants.  The global motivations for pursing an MBA program vary depending on the age, gender, economic status and the current years of work experience.

The main motivations for pursuing an MBA as listed by potential MBA applicants are improving career prospects, learning new skills and taking up a leadership/management position.

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Source: QS Applicant Survey 2013


A deeper analysis of the global average versus the expectations from applicants from the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries reveals varied perspectives. The average age of respondents from the BRICS, with the exception of India, is 28 years of age with more than 5 years of work experience. Indian applicants are the youngest in the group with an average age of 25 years. They also have the highest proportion of applicants (close to 70%) with relatively low work experience; 4 years or less.

The chart below looks at the top five reasons for pursuing an MBA.


Chart 1.1 Top motivations against the global average

Source: QS Applicant Survey 2013


From the chart above, India and Russia follow the global average across most of the categories listed. The greatest divergence from both the group and global average is by China and South Africa as depicted by the lines. They both have the same interest in learning new skills but the similarity ends there. The highest divergence in interests in is the importance of boosting their salaries. Chinese applicants have an above average motivation this area, while South African applicants are more focused on starting their own business. Both countries are also at polar ends in their motivation towards career change. Chinese applicants are also strongly geared towards building a professional network at 9% above the global average.

The most significant motivation above the global average for Russia is in the pursuit of new skills. Brazilian applicants have a strong interest in taking up leadership/management positions post-MBA, similar to Indian applicants, scoring 12% above the global average. This is in line with their low interest in starting up their own businesses.

As the chart reveals, although all the countries within the group are classified as emerging economies, the potential applicants have varied reasons for enrolling on the MBA course. It would be interesting to see whether their motivations change in the next few years in light of Brazil’s, China’s and Russia’s growth forecasts recent downgrade.

Access the full report: QS Applicant Survey 2013