The Class Of 2016 By The Numbers

Virginia Darden's Incoming MBA Class

Virginia Darden’s Incoming MBA Class

You know the drill. You show up on campus for the big hug from the dean and his admissions director-and you’re told how lucky and exceptional you are to be in this year’s incoming class. The dean’s script typically includes talk of how accomplished everyone is, both in and out of the classroom, and how remarkably diverse they are in their backgrounds, talents and perspectives.

Truth is, it’s absolutely true. This year’s incoming crop of MBA students at the top business schools are an extraordinary bunch: More international. More female. With generally higher GMAT scores and grade point averages. And the diversity of the class in terms of backgrounds is nearly mind-boggling.

The incoming MBAs at the University of Virginia’s Darden School include several professional athletes, including a former National Football League player. They also have a herpetologist–which is apparently someone who studies reptiles and amphibians.


Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business boasts a student who had a dog live to be 20 years old, one who is a certified skipper and has sailed across the world, another who has attempted to complete every New York Times crossword since March of 2008 and one who claims to be the inspiration for a video game character.

Ironically, the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina accepted the man behind the costume of Duke’s Blue Devil mascot. Additionally, they have a student who coached the Ugandan national lacrosse team, a member of the Turkey Ultimate Frisbee National Championship team, someone who trained astronauts on space shuttle evacuation procedures, an amateur gold prospector from Western Australia and a former volcano boarding tour guide from Nicaragua. Whatever that is.

Among the newbie MBA students at Goizueta Business School at Emory University there’s class a former para-ski instructor, someone who was ranked 29th in the world in the Madden 2010 video game (apparently there are more than 500,000 ranked players) and the subject of a 1999 Vietnamese documentary.

Of this year’s 936 incoming MBA students at Harvard Business School, 8% completed a triathlon, 17% played a varsity sport in college, 40% worked outside their home country, and 30% know a programming language. There’s also some startup blood in those HBS veins: 152 members of the class, 16%, have already founded a business, while 236, or one in four, have worked for a startup. A couple of other quirky tidbits: One in four has a blog or a Twitter account, while 11% are the first in their families to go to college.

You get the picture. Business schools are drawing an exceptionally diverse group of young professionals, far beyond the more typical consultants and investment bankers who often make up the largest single student populations. The early numbers for this year’s incoming class from 13 of the top 25 schools demonstrate that the Class of 2016 is perhaps the most unique class in terms of background and skills to go for an MBA.


The quality of students–at least judged by their raw scores–also increased for the 13 schools responding to Poets&Quants’ queries on the Class of 2016. GMAT scores at several schools hit record levels and averaged out at 704, an increase from the 699 for the same schools last year. Average undergraduate GPAs also inched higher by .02 points to an impressive 3.46.

But the biggest gains at many schools had to do with the international flavor of the class. Eight of the 13 reporting schools are reporting an increase in international students, including many with big-time gains. Emory’s Goizueta School increased its global student representation by 20 percentage points to 43% this year from just 23% in 2013. Other MBA programs reporting significant increases are  North Carolina, Georgetown and Berkeley, with upticks of eight, seven, and six percentage points, respectively.

Of the 13 schools that have crunched the numbers on their incoming classes, Berkeley and Emory have the largest percentage of international students at 43% each. Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and Columbia Business School follow closely with 41%. As previously reported, Georgetown says the larger international influence comes from more applicants and more recruiting efforts into other countries, specifically India. Emory’s large leap in international students was the result of a sizable increase in applicants that also led to a 26% increase in class size.

  • Josh

    2 Important Questions John!

    1) Kellogg now only shows Avg GMAT for 2Y+MMM, it doesn’t include 1Y and JD/MBA though they are substantial 150+ in number. For 2Y+MMM the average is 717. Is Kellogg worried that adding 1Y will lower their average GMAT like <710 the year before? To be fair to Kellogg, they are reasonable as all comparisons are between 2Y programs of other school. I would like your confirmation.

    2) Why has Yale SOM now only reporting MEDIAN of 720 in their website for class of 2015 and 2016, but not average? You gave 719 figure and I saw 722 in BW. Why are they disclosing average? Is it 5-7 points lower than median 720 or they don't want to show a 722+ figure which might turn off many applicants from applying! As they might see it as an overvalued stock!?

    Thanks in advance.

  • Nathan Allen

    In addition to John’s note, we will continue to update this piece and tables until all top 25 schools have reported their numbers.

  • JohnAByrne

    It hasn’t been released yet. We contacted every school in the top 25 for their numbers for this story.

  • entitledlittleshit

    Maybe in those from Law Schools major in english and such while these guys from B-Schools major in more demanding and less inflated majors.

  • devils0508

    Anybody knows Kelloggs GMAT for 2016? I heard rumors its above 720.

  • Nathan Allen

    Thanks, Linda!

  • ceasetobeamused

    Not sure why you find it so amusing.. It’s because business school is much more than just being able to do well on an exam at school. Law and med schools focus much more on academic achievements and less on professional ones.

  • Nathan Allen

    Agreed. I think you are seeing more of a shift towards that with the trending diversity numbers and different professional and personal experiences of this entering class.

  • Nathan Allen

    Philippe, you are correct. Thanks for pointing that out. The averages for GMATs have not been released from Harvard yet (to my knowledge). We’ve adjusted the story to take that into account.

  • remond

    high statistics did not help Yale in the past. in business education there should be true mix of different stats, experiences, ages, and backgrounds.

  • bwanamia

    Amuses me that the lowest average GPA accepted by any of the T14 law schools is higher than HBS’s average GPA.

  • Philippe

    Harvard reported a median of 730 and average of 727 last year and a median of 730 this year. Is Harvard also reporting an average of 730 this year or did you mistake the median as the average?