What An Average GMAT Will Get You

In the fictional town of Lake Wobegone, the creation of National Public Radio personality Garrison Keillor, all the children are “above-average” because no one can ever admit to being merely average.

In the real world, especially the harshly real and competitive world of getting into a top business school, average doesn’t get you very far. The average score of the Graduate Admission Management Test (GMAT) is about 540 on a scale of 200 to 800.

If you hit that 540 average, you’re not exactly Harvard Business School material. Last year’s entering class at Harvard had a mean GMAT score of 724, which put the typical HBS first year in the 95th percentile of test takers. At 728, Stanford’s average score was even higher. At 722, Yale’s School of Management wasn’t far behind. (See the “Super GMAT Schools” where average scores are in the 85th percentile or above).

Indeed, the average GMAT score for Poets&Quants’ top ten U.S. business schools is a remarkably high 716. And there are now 13 U.S. schools where the average GMAT score is above 700. Of course, the very definition of average means that there are many who score below that number and many who score above it.

Even so, what does an average score get you on the GMAT exam?

If you’re merely average–as so many of us are–it most likely means you can forget about going to even a ranked business school. By and large, the MBA programs that accept average scores are off the beaten path. Only one of the 35 schools on our “average” list–Howard University in Washington, D.C.–makes our top 100 list of the best U.S. schools. Some of these schools even lack official accreditation. As for elite corporate recruiters? You won’t find McKinsey & Co. Goldman Sachs, Google or Apple interviewing MBA grads at any of these schools.

On the other hand, you also won’t have much trouble getting in. Most of the schools decline to report the percentage of applicants they accept, probably because it’s so high it could be somewhat embarrassing. Of the schools on our list who do report this number, it’s worth noting that Union Graduate College in Schenectady, N.Y., accepts 96.6% of its applicants. The lowest acceptance rate? Howard University’s 38.7%.

So what kind of school can you get into if you have merely an average GMAT score? We found 35 MBA programs in the U.S. for the average person. The list below was compiled by taking the average score–540–and then searching for business schools that were no more than 10 points higher or 10 points lower than 540. Of course, your GMAT score is only one of many variables used by admission committees to accept or reject applicants. But it is, by far, the single most important factor at most business schools which is why the test–whether the GMAT or the GRE–cause applicants so much worry.

There are, by the way, five schools whose latest entering class hit the average score exactly on its head: the Jack Welch College of Business at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Ct., and the B-schools at the University of Toledo, the University of Tampa, the University of Hartford, and Clarion University in Pennsylvania.


School Average GMAT Average GPA Applicants Accepted
Western Kentucky (Ford) Bowling Green, KY 550 NA NA
California State University Chico, CA 550 3.11 NA
California State University Long Beach, CA 550 3.15 NA
Morgan State University (Graves) Baltimore, MD 550 3.60 NA
Quinnipiac University Hamden, CT 559 3.32 NA
University of South Florida St. Petersburg, FL 550 3.40 NA
University of West Florida Pensacola, FL 545 3.42 NA
Union Graduate College Schenectady, NY 545 3.30 96.6%
Salisbury University (Perdue) Salisbury, MD 545 3.50 NA
St. John’s University (Tobin) Queens, NY 544 3.20 69.1%
Penn State University (Black) Erie, PA 544 3.31 NA
Canisius College (Wehle) Buffalo, NY 544 3.22 NA
Southern Utah University Cedar City, UT 543 3.50 NA
Clarkson University Potsdam, NY 543 3.31 87.1%
California State University San Bernardino, CA 542 3.43 NA
Arkansas State University State University, AR 541 3.14 NA
University of Toledo Toledo, OH 540 3.30 NA
University of Tampa (Sykes) Tampa, FL 540 3.40 43.7%
University of Hartford (Barney) West Hartford, CT 540 3.33 NA
Sacred Heart University (Welch) Fairfield, CT 540 3.46 NA
Clarion University Clarion, PA 540 3.47 NA
University of Memphis (Fogelman) Memphis, TN 539 3.20 NA
Pace University (Lubin) New York, NY 539 3.33 62.1%
UNC-Wilmington (Cameron) Wilmington, NC 538 3.30 NA
New Jersey Institute of Tech Newark, NJ 538 NA NA
Howard University Washington, DC 537 3.10 38.7%
West Virginia University Morgantown, WV 536 3.43 47.1%
University of Texas–Permian Basin Odessa, TX 535 3.03 NA
University of Kansas Lawrence, KS 535 3.29 81.9%
East Tennessee State Johnson City, TN 535 3.10 NA
Boise State University Boise, ID 534 3.16 NA
Washington State University Pullman, WA 532 3.44 NA
Georgia Southern University Statesboro, GA 531 3.24 NA
Widener University Chester, PA 530 NA NA
Minnesota State University Mankato, MN 530 3.20 NA

Source: School reports