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Quantifying the Order of Priorities in Student Choice of Graduate Business Schools: Does Sustainability Matter?



Business schools expend resources to attract more and higher-quality applicants to their institutions, yet our understanding of what criteria resonate with those who want to find the right fit with a business school and its programs is, paradoxically enough, either not clear or dated. There is a dearth of research on what business students value, resulting in missed opportunities to engage existing students so as to translate their interests and aspirations into prospects for program design, delivery, and enrollment. One important and often overlooked criterion, for example, is the desire of business students to learn about sustainability. Thus, while most studies aim to discover and quantify the selection criteria in students’ choice of business schools, this paper builds on the aspect of sustainability. We propose a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) methodology that uncovers an array of essential criteria, including sustainability, for schools to consider in future program revision and development efforts. The proposed approach allows schools to be exact with their resource expenditures in areas that are critical to applicants, including those aligned with sustainability, as well as attract larger numbers of more qualified students. Insights from this study show that with the proper approach to understanding business school candidates, it is possible to quantify the order of priorities that students consider when choosing a business school.


applicant criteria; business schools; global sustainability; higher education institution; mixed methods; multi-criteria decision-making

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/JM2020.08205