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In pictures: What MBA students want

The QS TopMBA.com Applicant Survey 2012 asked for the opinions, backgrounds and aspirations of the MBA applicants who registered for the QS World MBA Tour in the fall of 2011 and spring of 2012. They got 4,538 responses, ranging from young people to experienced executives, and here are some of the results. The full survey can be found at http://www.topmba.com/qs-topmba-applicant-survey-2012

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Salary (over)expectations: Despite economic volatility, the survey found salary expectations have reached record levels. Swiss MBA candidates have the highest post-MBA target of $200,000 (U.S.) a year. On average, those earning about $45,000 before their MBA, expect $133,000 after their MBA, up from $111,000 in 2011.

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Seeking escape: While many take an MBA to enhance their careers, some seek to escape it. The top sectors where only a minority of candidates are looking to return after their MBA, according to survey respondents, are: retail (2.9 per cent), technology (11.9 per cent), government (24 per cent) and education (29 per cent).

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Men seek tech, women want the goods Though the top two choices for both genders are consulting and banking, women tend to target consumer goods, media and advertising, government or the public sector, technology and education. Men, while also targeting technology, differ from women in looking at energy and manufacturing, according to survey respondents.

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Aging classrooms: The average age of survey respondents has increased by 0.7 years to 28.3 years. Applicants from the Asia-Pacific region are the youngest, with a mean age of 27 years. Applicants from western Europe, Africa and the Middle East are the oldest, with a mean age of more than 29 years.

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Candidates’ backgrounds: The Top 5 sectors supplying MBA applicants are finance, retail, consulting, telecommunications and engineering. More people with more than four years of work experience are interested in an MBA. Respondents to the survey showed there are fewer candidates with less than four years of work experience, especially in Europe and Latin America.

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Destination U.S. ... for now: The most popular places to study remain the United States and Britain, but English-speaking destinations, including Canada and Australia, are dropping in popularity. The U.S. was a target destination for 62.3 per cent of survey respondents, compared with 80 per cent of the applicants who responded to the survey in 2007. Some of the other top destinations are: Britain, at 40.0 per cent; France, at 20.4 per cent; Canada, at 17.6 per cent; Spain, at 15.3 per cent and Australia, at 15.2 per cent.

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