Record GMAT Score & Women at Kellogg

Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management

Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management today (Aug. 4) said its incoming class of two-year MBA students boasts the highest percentage of women ever as well as a record average GMAT score. Some 43% of the incoming class this fall will be female, up five full percentage points from last year’s 38% total.

The GMAT average for the class, meantime, will be 724, an eight-point rise from last year when GMATs averaged 716. If other business schools maintain their GMAT averages from last year, Kellogg’s new score would give it the fourth highest numbers of any U.S. school, behind only Stanford, Harvard, and Wharton. The record GMAT now matches last year’s average score for the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. Kellogg did not reveal the full range of GMAT scores for its new class, instead reporting that the middle 80% range is 690 to 760.

An eight-point jump in a single year is unusual. In the previous five years, Wharton and Chicago increased their averages by 10 and nine points, respectively, from 718 to 728 and from 715 to 724. In that same timeframe, Kellogg’s GMAT average had fallen by one point. The highest reported GMAT average for a U.S. school belongs to Stanford which last year boasted a 732 average. GMAT scores have added importance because they are a key metric used by U.S. News to annually rank the best U.S. MBA programs.


Kellogg achieved both records in a year in which applications were flat, according to Kate Smith, director of admissions, who did not disclose actual numbers on applications. “While the total number of applications was about the same, the strength of the candidates we saw seemed to grow,” she said. “We are fortunate to have an outstanding pool of applicants. Our goal is to make sure that students can handle the rigor of the classroom. That (the record GMAT average) is not as interesting as the diversity profile.”

The 43% number puts Kellogg ahead of most business schools and matches UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business which last year hit a record 43%, highest among the elite MBA programs. Some 41% of Harvard Business School’s incoming class this fall is composed of women. At Wharton, 40% of last year’s incoming class was female, while at Stanford it was 42%.

Overall, women make up only about 35% of the U.S. MBA student population. Kellogg Dean Sally Blount was among 10 female deans at top business schools who met earlier this year in a historic session, vowing to undertake steps that would remedy the gender imbalance.

Smith said the increase in women was largely the result of outreach programs. “Over the past few years, we’ve become more focused on attracting more women to Kellogg,” she said. “We have a deep commitment to diversity in every facet of our school. If you look at our track record, we’ve educated many terrific female leaders, including Ellen Kullman, the CEO of DuPont, and Jenny Lee, the managing partner of GGV Capital who is the only woman on Forbes’ Midas List.”


The school also increased the percentage of international students in the new class to 40%, up from 38% a year earlier. The international contingent at Kellogg will be from 56 different countries, said Smith.

The industry backgrounds of incoming students remained relatively stable, with a few exceptions. The school doubled the percentage of military in the class to 4% from 2%, while incoming students from financial services declined by two percentage points to 21%.