88% of Corporate Recruiters Seek Candidates With Graduate Business Degree, Study Says

Posted By Terri Williams on August 1, 2016 at 12:40 pm
88% of Corporate Recruiters Seek Candidates With Graduate Business Degree, Study Says

For students weighing the decision to attend graduate school, the answer may depend on the degree they intent to pursue. Companies definitely are hiring candidates with only a bachelor’s degree, but many of them are also searching for people with an advanced level of education. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council 2016 Corporate Recruiters Survey Report, 88% of corporate recruiters globally plan to hire a candidate with an MBA.

In the United States, the highest percentage of corporate recruiters are searching for candidates with these graduate degrees:

Recruiters Degree sought
91% MBA
60% Nonbusiness master’s
38% Master of Accounting
37% Master of Management
34% Master of Finance

A smaller percentage of companies are seeking nontraditional business degrees, such as a Master in Data Analytics, and a Master in Supply Chain Management.

At 60%, a nonbusiness master’s might appear to be in high demand, but this is a catch-all category for dozens of different degrees.

The salary effect of the graduate business degree

Salaries for some business degrees are quite lucrative, and as expected, an MBA provides the biggest bang for the buck.

Graduate Degree Median Starting Base Salaries
MBA $105,000
Master in Data Analytics $85,000
Master in Marketing $85,000
Master in Supply Chain Management $75,000
Master of Finance $75,000
Master in Management $70,000
Master of Accounting $62,000

Note: The report did not provide salary info for nonbusiness master’s degrees. 

The lure of the graduate business degree

Gregg Schoenfeld, Director of Research for the council’s 2016 Corporate Recruiters Survey, tells GoodCall that companies find distinct advantages in hiring candidates with an advanced business degree. “The majority of companies surveyed consistently respond that these graduates add value to the organization, offer a versatile skills set, and are leaders in their organization.”

It’s a view that has gained widespread acceptance. According to Schoenfeld, “The research also suggests that growth for business school talent is due to the perception that business school graduates excel in strategic planning, leadership, and data analytics, compared to nonbusiness school graduates.”

The healthcare sector has the highest demand for MBA talent – in fact, 100% of healthcare respondents plan to hire candidates with this credential, and they also plan to hire individuals with other advanced business degrees. Schoenfeld explains that demand increased after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and adds “These companies tell us that they hire business school graduates to build their leadership pipeline, and because these candidates are innovative thinkers with business acumen.”

The survey also reveals that consulting firms have increased their hiring of candidates with an MBA to the tune of 92%. There has also been an increase in demand for candidates with a master’s in accounting, finance, and management. Schoenfeld says consulting firms believe these graduates will help to support company growth and their business acumen will help improve the organization.

Michelle Prince, senior vice president of Talent Management at Randstad North America, tells GoodCall, “The number one reason companies are looking for candidates with graduate business degrees is because there is a need for leaders with ‘21st century skills,’ or those skills needed to succeed in the information age we live in today.”

In addition to leadership potential, Prince says employers also want employees with problem-solving and analytical skills, and research capabilities. “These skills are typically developed in higher level education, such as graduate degree programs,” Prince says.

And since many graduate programs like for students to have at least two years of practical work experience, Prince says employers benefit from having the best of both worlds. “When employers hire a new MBA or master’s graduate, they can expect the person will have both advanced knowledge and an understanding of how to apply that knowledge in a work environment.”

Prince admits that companies can also hire employees and then help them develop these skills through development and mentoring programs. “However, this takes time and is a true investment.” On the other hand, if they can hire someone who has already developed these skills, Prince believes these individuals can jump in and start making significant contributions immediately.

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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