Indian & Chinese MBA Applicants Face Much Higher Rejection Rates

MBA applicants from India and China face significantly higher rates of rejection by many top U.S. business schools than either domestic candidates or those from Europe or Latin America, according to a new study by Poets&Quants. In some cases, the acceptance rate for U.S. citizens is four to five times higher than the rate of acceptance for Indian and Chinese applicants.

At some prominent business schools, international applicants now outnumber those from the U.S. That’s the case at MIT Sloan, Duke University’s Fuqua School, and Michigan’s Ross School of Business. At Purdue University’s Krannert School nearly eight out of ten in its latest MBA applicant pool were international. At Washington University’s Olin School of Business, 70% of last year’s 1,490 applicants to its full-time MBA program were non-U.S.

Yet, at all of these prestige B-schools the percentage of international students who are admitted and enrolled fall far behind the percentage who apply. At Washington’s Olin School, for example, only 35% of the latest entering class is international–even though international candidates made up 70% of the school’s applicant pool. Although 53% of the 3,452 applicants to Fuqua’s full-time MBA program were international, only 30% of the students in this fall’s entering class are not from the U.S.


The rarely seen data on the makeup of the MBA applicant pool–as opposed to the actual students enrolled–comes from B-schools which have supplied this information for the first time to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Not all schools agreed to hand over this data. Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and Columbia were among the top institutions that declined to provide this information. Yet, most business schools, including some of the most prominent, complied with the request to shed light on their applicant pools.


Though schools disclosed information for all their international applicants, admission officials say the major problem is with Indian and Chinese MBA candidates largely because there are so many of them. An internal admissions report obtained by Poets&Quants from a top ten business school certainly supports that conclusion. The report reveals that applicants from China and India are more than four to five times likely to be turned down for admission than either domestic applicants or those from Europe, Latin America, Africa or the Middle East.
Last year, for example, 20% of the applications received by the school were from China and other Asian countries while 22% were from India. The school’s acceptance rate for the Chinese and Indian applicants was 10% and 8%, respectively. The acceptance rate for U.S. citizens was 39%–four to five times higher.

International applicants from other regions of the world fared much better than the Asians. The school accepted 39% of its European applicants, and 26% of its applicants from Latin America and the Middle East. The overall acceptance rate was just a tad above 25%.

Admission officials say there are many reasons for the discrepancy between the size of the international applicant pool and the students ultimately enrolled at their schools, from a need to craft more balanced and diverse classes to language difficulties that make some international students less attractive to the job market. No less important, they say, is their own inability to meet the expectations of students from China and India to stay in the U.S. and gain visas to work here after graduation.


“We’re looking at it from the perspective of a corporate recruiter hiring our class two years later,” explains John Roeder, admissions director for Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Business. At Owen, international applicants made up 45% of the 1,013 applicants who applied for admission to this fall’s entering class. But only 25% of the class is composed of international students.

  • Vsv

    Why do we Indians run behind all these Schools, If we did have real talent wont we be in India and achieve greateness for our own country??? Its just a shame.. running behind dollars, think BIG! and build rupees!!! wake up

  • anIndian

    Not dumb at all considering the context. I am interested in knowing too. It depends on how Americans view us, (separate or together). I am an Indian and in USA I definitely feel connected to a Pakistani or an Afghanian.

    Another point, here all the Indians are commenting agreeing/disagreeing. i didn’t see any single Chinese perspective. Is Poetsandquants banned in Chine?

  • Avinash Tyagi

    Its completely true, if I were Black or Latino every school would be fighting to get me to come to their program

  • Avinash Tyagi

    You assume that Indians do not have those skills

  • AnonymousIndian


  • Reality Check -really?

    Mate, reality check in order. There is no way of explaining the staggering number of Indian CEOs running America’s largest companies (the latest being ofcourse Microsoft). Indians have made it to the top INSPITE of it all being made so hard for them. Go and compete with the next indian you find. Thats all I can say.

  • AnIndianWhoAcedCATandGMAT

    And NM lives in a cardboard box on the streets of New Delhi, smoking weed and thinking how cool and anti-establishment he is! Kudos mate, you just made it large, didn’t you?!

  • FacePalm

    The joke is MBA admissions people try to sound objective when they really are not. They ask you write essays on leadership crap, achievements etc. Ultimately none of that matters when they select. What they want has been highlighted in the article above. And there are duffers in India who question the need for meritocracy etc. etc… and the joke is this… name a branch of management (finance, operations, consulting, marketing, economics blah) and it is all rife with probability and math… It is only for the uninitiated who think management is just fancy bs that goes inside these colleges… and when it comes to number crunching all the time I doubt if meritocracy doesn’t matter?!!

    Also if not for meritocracy are all the jobs that are done outside based on drama/politics/creativity? Yes right politics is important no doubt… but then what is the need for a bell curve based review system if meritocracy has no value in the so called western world?! All that goes in the name of MBA admissions is pure BS, a money spinning and brand build exercise for these colleges. They can and never be objective in their selection criteria for obvious reasons.

    And contributing to the community?? Do you know which country is highly individualistic? US or India? Pls go and check Hofstede ratings if you have any doubt. All the applicants that I have interacted with had beefed up their extracurricular work just for the sake of admissions and most of it was all questionable…

    If you can do some objective research on this and prove what I write here is wrong then I am ready to write an apology comment as a follow up.

  • Novobugger

    Scoretop had more people from the US involved bugger!

  • Tarun M

    Exactly, business schools sound hypocritical with this non-transparency. I’m surprised schools haven’t found a way to avoid legal trouble while providing 4 lines of personalised feedback via email. Is that too much to ask after paying $200+?