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Want to get an MBA? So do a lot of others

College student
Alejandro Rivera | E+ | Getty Images

Getting into business school right now may be harder than last year.

A majority of full-time MBA programs in the U.S. are reporting a rise in applications for the first time since 2009.

Some 52 percent saw more applications, according to a new survey out Tuesday by the Graduate Management Admission Council. International students solidly contributed to these gains.

(Read more: One-quarter ofrecent college graduates lack jobs

"The one thing that stood out was that more full-time programs in the U.S. are growing," said Michelle Sparkman Renz, the council's director of research communications. "It is a sign of a better environment when you see more people making that career change or go back to school."

It's a different story if you go the part-time or online MBA route. They saw a drop in growth this year.

GMAC's figures show more than half of these programs saw less interest. Just 29 percent received more applications than last year.

(Read more: Student loan bubble starting to burst)

Sparkman Renz believes work-life balance may have contributed to the dip. She said many working professionals have reservations about committing the time and energy to the classes.

Yet, employer funding stayed at the same level versus last year.

"We see employer demands for MBAs staying very high," said Sparkman Renz, adding employees holding MBAs make 40,000-dollars more a year, on average, than their peers without the degrees.

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