MBAs in Japan: 90% see their business degree as essential to employment


An MBA or graduate management master’s degree is a key that opens many career doors in Japan, according to results of the newest survey of Business School alumni conducted by The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

The GMAC 2014 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report is based on direct collaboration with 132 business schools in 29 countries. The data in this report tell the employment stories of nearly 21,000 business school alumni – including 129 responses from Business School alumni working in Japan – and offer feedback about their career progression and the value of their graduate management education.

Findings show that 97% of alumni in Japan consider the value of their degree to be good to outstanding. Results suggest that while the vast majority of global alumni (83%) report their graduate management education was essential for obtaining employment, MBA and management talent working in Japan are even keener on the degree for shaping their career path, with 90% of alumni confirming their degree as essential to a job. In addition, 83% of business school alumni in Japan report that their graduate management education has been influential in their career progression since earning their degrees – a slightly higher than the 80% of global peers who agree the degree had positive career influence.

When Forbes introduced its World’s Most Innovative Companies List in late 2013, Japan accounted for the greatest number of companies located in Asia, with 11 in total. The fact that Japanese companies are a premiere leader in corporate innovation is echoed in the top five skills MBAs and graduate business degree holders in Japan use most often on the job: Interpersonal skills, the combined skills of Learning, Motivation and Leadership, as well as Managing the decision-making process, Knowledge of general business functions, and Generative thinking (e.g. innovation, analytical thinking).

One of Japan’s leading business schools, Hitotsubashi ICS, was among the partners conducting the survey, and concurs with the findings.

"There is huge demand for business leaders who can drive innovation,” says Kazuo Ichijo, Dean-elect, Hitotsubashi ICS. “Frugal innovation, disruptive innovation, and reverse innovation. Innovation is a winning formula both in emerging countries and in developed countries. In driving innovation, judgments in uncertainties and managing diversity for creativity are all crucial, and a business school is the best place to learn these essential leadership competencies.”

Across the globe, reasons behind the strong positive assessment of the value of a graduate management education are multidimensional and span all aspects of alumni’s personal and work lives. Business school alumni in Japan report that their graduate management education was personally rewarding (98%), professionally rewarding (94%), and financially rewarding (81%).

These findings help illustrate why 13,000 aspiring business students in Japan have sat for the GMAT exam during the last five testing years (2009-2013), putting it in the top five Asia-Pacific markets indicated by GMAT testing for future manager talent pools (after China, India, South Korea, Taiwan). Nearly half (45%) of prospective business students in Japan consult alumni/current students in their decision making about pursuing Business School, slightly higher than the 40% global prospects and 38% of Asia region prospects consulting current students/alumni in the decision for business school.

What motivates aspiring Japanese students to pursue business school is the desire to develop business and leaderships skills, as well as opportunities for challenging and interesting work, networking, and increased job opportunities, at home and abroad.

“Japan has traditionally been known for its practice of ‘lifetime employment.’ However, this has been changing with younger businesspersons being required to deal with greater job and market uncertainty,” says Hiroshi Kanno, Dean at Hitotsubashi ICS. “This has led to an increase in the number of ambitious young MBA candidates seeking to develop their skills, as well as seek a greater degree of job mobility, in order to find their ideal career.”

Japanese alumni report salaries comparable with their United States counterparts, and higher than Chinese alumni. The median base salary reported by Business School alumni in Japan is $121,830 for senior level professionals. In comparison, senior level professionals in the United States report a median salary of $122,000 and $114,804 for alumni in China. Even in mid-level roles, alumni in Japan are leading in the salary stakes in the Asia Pacific region, with a median annual salary of $79,391, second only to Australia.

Above all, the survey findings demonstrate that in today’s competitive job market, alumni in Japan consistently credit their opportunities for career advancement, skill development and personal satisfaction to their valuable Business degrees.

About GMAC: The Graduate Management Admission Council ( is a nonprofit education organization of leading graduate business schools and owner of the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT exam), now celebrating its 60th year and used by more than 6,000 graduate business and management programs worldwide. GMAC is based in Reston, Virginia, and has regional offices in London, New Delhi and Hong Kong. The GMAT exam -- the only standardized test designed expressly for graduate business and management programs worldwide -- is continuously available at approximately 600 test centers in 113 countries. More information about the GMAT exam is available at For more information about GMAC, please visit

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

An MBA is a kind of stamp on the resume and does nothing to predict the success or ability of a candidate to do a particular job.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

some guys at my company put this on their business card and it may add a perk to their career. they seem to have a slightly better grasp of business than the typical brain dead salaryman.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Don't apply for a MBA degree just because everyday is doing it or because someone told you it would help get a better job. Go for a MBA only if you really, truly think management is your forte and if you want to spend most of your career solving organizational problems and administrating the various resources of a business enterprise. If that is what you want and if that is where you think your talents and interests lie, the MBA degree is most definitely worth it for you. A good MBA program will give you an in-depth, real world, hands-on, practical application-oriented experiences along with the theoretical grounding. You will almost find it easier to advance along your career path and it will prove to be invaluable for your future in the workplace. However remember that the degree itself is no guarantee of success. It's what you do with what you learned during the program that really matters.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

According to the search engine, a general MBA can be obtained for as little as $6k and as high as $120k. Taking the traditional approach to getting a college education is kind of like using aluminum cans connected with string to call one another instead of your iphone.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Disagree - IN GENERAL, an MBA degree shows you have a certain level fo academic achievement, work ethic, etc. It ensures a baseline level of knowledge and achievement, if anything. More importantly, it opens up a vast network of alumni.

You can argue that it has no value, but you'd be hardpressed to see someone at a top 7 MBA university regret having attended.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Useful data. Thank you! Still, I want to know how much of the "soft skills" like organizational behavior taught at oversea MBA programs are applicable in Japan. I guess like any worthwhile analysis, we can simply say "more research needed.":) To that end, if you are planning to start an MBA in 2014, please take Applicant Survey! Share your views on the admissions process ($500 cash prize)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites