GMAT Scores Slip At Many Top Schools

Some 15 of the top 25 U.S. business schools accepted more applicants this year than last and nearly a quarter of the top 25 schools reported declines in median GMAT scores, according to a new analysis by Poets&Quants. Both trends are largely a consequence of the previously reported fall in applications at many business schools.

While there were schools that clearly bucked the trend, some of the nation’s most prestigious business schools saw declines in the GMAT scores for the latest crop of entering MBAs. Schools reporting ten-point drops in their median GMAT scores were MIT Sloan, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Managment, Carnegie-Mellon’s Tepper School, North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, and the University of Southern California’s Marshall School.


Stanford Graduate School of Business was one of eight schools reporting a rise in median GMAT scores for its entering class. Stanford’s median jumped ten points to 740 from 730, ten points higher than Harvard Business School, the school reporting the next highest median GMAT score. Two business schools reported 20-point increases in their median GMATs this year: Indiana’s Kelley School of Business and the B-school at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Wisconsin rose to 690 from 670, while Kelley rose to 680 from 660.

Perhaps the single biggest surprise was the 30-point rise in median GMAT at Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Business. How did the school manage to increase the median GMAT score of its latest class by a full 30 points to 700 from 670 last year? “Vanderbilt University as a whole has invested heavily in terms of financial resources into the Owen school,” explains John Roeder, director of admissions. “That has led to a significant increase in the amount of scholarships we can offer applicants. Over 70% of students are on some scholarship. That is a huge increase from previous years.”


The average scholarship grant at Owen increased 44% this past year to $25,402 from $17,662 a year ago, according to the school.

Each April, Owen hosts a “Scholars’ Weekend” at which the school invites the year’s best applicants to campus to meet with alumni, students, and faculty. “We brought in 28 of our top candidates this past spring and 28 put down a deposit,” says Roeder. “It was the best record we ever had. I liken it to a sports analogy. It’s that one recruiting class you bring in that makes a difference to the team.”

Of course, these GMAT scores are either averages or medians, or the mid-point of a wide range of scores from applicants who are now enrolled. At Stanford, for example, the range went from a low of 530 to a high of 790 this year. At Harvard, from 490 to 790, and at Wharton, from 560 to 790. The data comes from school reports in response to an annual request for information from Bloomberg BusinessWeek.


For the first time, several schools reported on the average GMAT scores for their applicant pools (which include applicants who were rejected for admission as well as applicants who were accepted but did not take up the invitation to enroll). Harvard Business School reported that its median GMAT for its entire applicant pool is 701. Berkeley’s Haas School said its applicant pool number was a whopping 710. Several top business schools said their applicant pool GMATs were 700, including Kellogg, Duke, Michigan, and Darden. Yale University’s School of Management said the median GMAT score for its applicant pool was 705, while the average GMAT was 688.

Other schools bucking the GMAT decline trend were Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Virginia’s Darden School, Texas’ McCombs, and Emory’s Goizueta School of Business. All those institutions reported ten-point gains on their median GMATs. Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business reported a five-point increase to 690 from 685.


In general, it was easier to get into a top business school this past year than it was in 2010. Some schools reported dramatic changes in the percentage of applicants accepted for admission. USC’s Marshall School, for example, accepted 38% of the applicants to its Class of 2013, up from just 22% a year earlier. Georgetown’s McDonough School accepted 49% of its applicants, up from 42%.Michigan’s Ross School accepted 32% of its applicants, up from 25%.

Even here, however, six schools were able to be even more choosy this past year. The acceptance rate actually went down at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business to 18% from 20%; at Virginia’s Darden School to 25% from 26%; at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School to 24% from 27%; at Wisconsin to 30% from 31%; at Indiana to 38% from 42%; at Vanderbilt to 29% from 36%.

(See table on next page for the GMAT scores and acceptance rates at the top 25 U.S. schools).

  • Nancy John

    GMAT Raw scores can be get by hardworking

  • uscapp,

    You’re right. It’s 27%. We’ve fixed the error. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.


  • uscapp

    USC has an admission rate of 27 on their website. So which is correct? 27 or 38? Pretty big difference.

  • busconnect

    John Thanks for the link will check it out. Very interesting..

  • As clearly noted in the story and in the source note for the table, the source for the info is Bloomberg BusinessWeek which received its info from each of the business schools.

  • Harry

    John, where did you get the information that Stanford’s median GMAT is 740?
    GSB’s own website has it at 730. Are you sure you got it right?

  • B-School,

    Sorry for the confusion. The 705 median and the 688 average are for Yale’s entire applicant pool–not the enrolled class. Those numbers give a sense of how well the school is doing attracting high level applicants.

    The numbers cited in the table are for the latest students to enroll at Yale’s School of Management. So they would be higher because Yale is obviously turning down a lot of its applicants for admission.

    Hope this clears up the difference.


  • b-school


    I am confused – the article reads “Yale University’s School of Management said the median GMAT score for its applicant pool was 705, while the average GMAT was 688” but the table shows a much higher average for Yale in 2011.

    Can you please explain?

  • Ryan,

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Unfortunately, the data was incorrectly reported by Bloomberg BusinessWeek, the source of the info. We’ve corrected the table and the story in an update.

  • The information for Vanderbilt is incorrect. The 2011 incoming class had a median GMAT of 700 and average GMAT of 695.

  • busconnect,

    Agree. NYU looks very good on this table. I think the school’s New York location is a great benefit. Recently, a corporate recruiter made some fascinating remarks on our smackdown comparison story of Columbia vs. NYU. He essentially said he preferred recruiting Stern MBAs over Columbia. His take: “We have had very good success with NYU graduates – but not only have we not yielded at Columbia; anyone we do get tends to come with a very self-entitled, me-centric attitude and quickly exits the firm.”

    Check it out:

  • Stu,

    I know. That’s the number, however, that Harvard reported to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Perhaps it’s an average.

  • Stu

    Maybe my statistics is a little rusty, but isn’t it impossible for HBS to have a median score of 701?

    Given that the GMAT goes up in 10-point increments, the median could be 700 or 710, or 705 (with an even number of applications and 700 and 710 in the middle), but not 701.

  • busconnect

    Stern appears to be extremely competitive even compared to many Ivies, with an average GMAT almost touching 720 and an acceptance rate which is the 5th lowest…