Average GMAT Scores For The Top 50 Business Schools

University of Pittsburgh's Katz Graduate School of Business

University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business


Only last year, a Poets&Quants‘ survey found that the vast majority of MBA admissions consultants—65% of those responding to the poll—say they believe business school admission officials are weighing GMAT scores more heavily than ever. The consultants singled out three schools in particular where they believe the GMAT assumes increased importance in admission decisions: The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Yale University’s School of Management, and Columbia Business School. Slightly more than half the respondents named Wharton for putting greater weight on GMATs in the past five years; a little more than a third named Yale while just a tad over 25% pointed to Columbia.

While the scores show they were right on the button with Wharton, they may very well have misjudged Yale and Columbia. Over the past five years, Yale has reported only a two-point rise in average GMATS to a record 721 last fall, though that average is up seven points since 2013. Columbia, meantime, is actually down a point in the past five years to 715, most likely due to the fact that the school offers less scholarship support than many of its peers.

Still, the general view is that GMATs are the single most important factor in MBA admissions. “We’ve seen the school averages rise significantly in the past fifteen years, in part driven by increasingly well-prepared test takers applying to the top b-schools, and in particular the ever higher scores coming out of China and India,” says Matt Symonds, a partner at Fortuna Admissions. “The demographics of GMAT test takers have shifted significantly in this time period, with US test takers now less than 50% of the overall. Higher GMAT scores are perceived to create a virtuous circle of school selectivity and positive impact in the U.S. News ranking. Word from the corner office can set a trend in motion–15 years ago the dean at Columbia wanted GMAT scores of admits to all start with a 7. The arrival of (Dean) Ted Snyder at Yale has coincided with a rise in their average GMAT (720) as he sets out to secure the school’s place in the world’s top 10.” Earlier this month, Yale jumped five places to rank eighth in U.S. News‘ 2016 ranking, catapulting over six of the world’s most prominent business schools to gain its highest ranking ever.


Declining GMATs can very well be an indication of a school falling behind in its ability to attract the best candidates to its MBA program, either because it lacks scholarship funds to compete for the best or simply chooses to invest its money in other ways. In the past three years, the biggest GMAT score declines among the Top 50 are at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business, which saw a 15-point decline to 607 last year from 622 in 2013 (five-year numbers were not available for analysis). Temple University’s Fox School of Business in Philadelphia saw a 14-point drop over the same period to 632 from 646. Meantime, Penn State University’s Smeal College of Business lost 14 points off its average GMAT scores in the past five years, falling to a 636 average for the full-time MBA entering class last fall from 650 in 2011 (see below).

In all, 21 of the Top 50 schools reported GMAT declines, though 14 of them were at MBA programs ranked 26th through 50th by Poets&Quants. Wisconsin Business School in Madison showed an 11-point fall to 669 from 680 in the past five years, while both Notre Dame University’s Mendoza School and Ohio State University’s Fisher School each had 10-point declines, to 682 and 664, respectively. Only nine of the MBA programs ranked 26th through 50th reported improved average GMAT scores over the five-year period.

How do these numbers compare to the best European schools? INSEAD reports the highest average GMAT, a 703, ranging from a low of 600 to a high of 790 for its latest entering class. London Business School is not far behind with a 701. But most full-time MBA programs in Europe fall in the high 600s, with Oxford at 690, HEC-Paris at 682, and Cambridge at 680. IE Business School and IMD are at a GMAT average of 672, while IESE Business School has an average of 669.

Top 50 With Biggest Five-Year Decreases In GMAT Scores


School Five-Year Change 2015 Average GMAT 2011 Average GMAT
Pittsburgh (Katz) -15 607 622*
Temple (Fox) -14 632 646*
Penn State (Smeal) -14 636 650
Wisconsin-Madison -11 669 680
Ohio State (Fisher) -10 664 6674
Notre Dame (Mendoza) -10 682 692
Southern California (Marshall) -8 679 687
Rochester (Simon) -8 667 675

Source: Poets&Quants analysis from available GMAT data * An asterisk indicates a three-year decline

  • sk

    lol looks like some is gonna have a tough time with the CR section…

  • BR

    Does anyone know typical GMAT scores of male students (of Indian origin) to get into the top MBA programs? Appreciate any information or where to look for, boards etc.

  • sherwinwill

    again your table is titled Average GMAT Scores At The Top 50 U.S. MBA Programs..Stanford’s GMAT score is the highest for every year you have listed yet is listed second.

    John.. I know you love harvard but misrepresenting these stats to curve fit your desired results is lame.

  • Not weird at all. It’s stated clearly in the article and a quick scan of the tables shows you the results.

  • sherwinwill

    weird that this is not listed by GMAT score?


    is the official ranking.

  • AH

    UCLA’s average has been 715 for the past three years. The increase is +11.

  • Josh

    Demonstrates that HBS is feeling the heat/competition from the other M7 schools in attracting top calibre students. Havard is a great school and has been recognised as the top B-School in the US and globally. The school has been relying on its legacy reputation and the fact that its older cohorts of alumni (those that graduated in the 70’s and 80’s) taking the leadership roles in Fortune 500 companies.

    However, that is changing given the changing global landscape where retail, consumer and manufacturing companies’ dominance is being replaced by the rising importance and dominance of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) industries. Schools like Stanford known for its strong technology focus and halo effect from its undergraduate programs may likely overtake Harvard in the near future. within the top B-schools or the M7, those that are revamping their offerings and curriculum with an all-rounded focus to meet the changing global landscape and needs of the new generation of leaders in business education like Northwestern University’s Kellogg and Dartmouth’s Tuck are likely to also attract a greater share of top calibre applicants. The rising average GMAT scores of Stanford (733), Wharton (732) and Kellogg (728) supports this. Harvard’s was at 725.

  • The 728 average is for the incoming class this year. This article tracks average GMAT scores for the previous class. So no mistake in the story or table. Obviously, we’ll revisit this issue when all the schools have announced their new GMAT averages for this year’s incoming class. At the moment, very few schools have released this data.

  • Will.S

    Hi John,

    I believe there’s a mistake in Kellogg’s average GMAT score stated in your article above. The article stated that the average GMAT score added +12 points to 724. If I am not mistaken, it should be +16 points (vs 2011 average GMAT score) to 728, ranking 3rd overall within the Top 10 Business Schools, just behind Stanford (733) and Wharton (732).

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  • Chester Sql

    The rankings don’t mean that much to me as an employer. I like to see where the applicants went for their undergraduate programs and how they paid for their schooling. Reliance of GMAT scores proves nothing. Give me a man or woman who is coming in with an undergraduate degree (and CPA) from a good school (Illinois) or engineering school (Johns Hopkins) and i would select that student right off the bat. Harvard Business School graduates expect too much and do not want to hustle. Who needs that.

  • The incentives are wrong. Many of the MBA ratings use GMAT scores as an input, hence schools are trying to push up the GMAT scores of their new students to get better ratings etc. I don’t think GMAT scores should be taken into account for program ratings.

  • craig.s.frazier@gmail.com

    Despite GMAT being a standard measure for a graduate candidate, obviously, the outcome of your performance in grad school is determined by other factors. I personally only aimed between 710-730.

  • Sean Meade

    Both are good scores. You can use both depending on the school you’re applying to. Use the first if it’s less of a quant-focused school and scholarships are based on GMAT. If you want to highlight your quant and reasoning ability use the second. Also, take a calculus course if you haven’t yet. This shows ability and initiative.

  • Cam

    Just a general question for anyone I would really appreciate help with. I took the GMAT and got a 740 Q47 V44 IR 2

    Decided to retake because of the IR and got a 730 Q48 V42 IR 7

    Now I don’t know what score to use, one is 10 points higher the other has a better quant and IR (with the first IR being a possible red flag) I have a 3.13 GPA and come from a very non quant background so it’s especially important I nail the gmat part of the applications and would really appreciate anyone’s input.

  • FuquaEw

    Pretty nuts that HBS can throw $31MM at prospective students.

    Also nuts that Duke has sub 700 gmat …. i may be a GMAT snob but I think GMAT really does illustrate some form of intellect. It’s tough to want to join the ranks of a program that has students that can’t on average get above 700 on a standardized test (especially with everything that has been written about the test over the years)

  • avivalasvegas

    You clearly don’t know Kellogg very well. I’ve made my dislike of the “consulting factory” vibe of school well known on these forums and am not a fan of the program entirely, but even I will concede that the students are very social leaders. That they also have higher GMAT scores is probably a bonus.

  • desi

    Its tough being an Indian gmat applicant.. my friends have ostracized me because of the low quant score (Q47).. never mind the V42

  • Interesting


    Thanks for the post and links! You are correct that Cornell and Duke were not in the top 10 per that article BUT in tone of the links embedded in that article that you posted was the link to your article:
    “MBA Scholarships At Top Business Schools
    by John A. Byrne…”
    In this article, Cornell and Duke are shown to have approximately 1/3 of their respective MBAs on scholarship, which effectively ties both schools with Wharton, Kellogg, MIT, Dartmouth Tuck and UNC who all are between 33%-35%. Yale slightly lags at 31%.
    Clearly Cornell is competitive with the best schools on scholarships and perhaps even more so if you adjust for its smaller size…
    Thanks again!

  • The best reporting on MBA scholarships ever was an entire series of stories not that long ago. The numbers are really solid. Duke and Cornell are not among the Top Ten in scholarships. See here:


  • Interesting

    Hmmm – Interesting notion for sure. Would you please post anything that supports such a claim because I have never seen anything that asserts anything at all like that? I believe fully that if that were even remotely true then it would be well reported upon and highlighted in forums and websites like this.

  • J K

    I don’t remember where I saw this but these two schools in particular are known for having less scholarship money available per student (compared to their peers), so perhaps they don’t have enough money around to attract high scorers.

  • Jimmy87

    In very rare cases, Harvard does so. with lower ranked schools there are some good schools such as UCSD Rady if you have PhD in technical field. IE in spain uses their own test.

  • Interesting

    I have no bones to pick here and am not a Cornell or Duke affiliate. However, I do like both schools. Realistically, I doubt either school would find it terribly difficult to raise their average scores by several points. And if they did for some reason find it hard, they could slightly shrink enrollment size to obtain it and go for those stats to look just like everyone else. It has been well-argued over the past years that Duke and Cornell purposely are looking beyond GMAT scores at other indicators for success in their programs. I think it is admirable that they have stuck to their knitting and not tried just to follow the pack. Certainly not for everyone of course. Of course if one really believes that a higher GMAT score means that someone is materially smarter then someone else who scored 10 or 15 points less then I suppose this would be a big issue. Just my thoughts.

  • J K

    Amazing how Duke/Cornell are in the top 15 with sub-700 GMAT scores. They really find it that difficult to raise their averages above 700? If I were an admissions director at one of those schools I would be embarrassed.

  • joe

    any data on schools that accept a majority of application without GMAT, or allow the school’s own undergrad to enroll into the master’s without a GMAT?

  • Stuart

    This will explain to you folks, especially at Wharton and Kellogg I imagine (who have high average scoring populations, why there is a certain segment of smart classmates who have no apparent social or leadership skills. This is a rankings-driven arms race to be sure….

  • Retired but still dabbling

    Hmmmm. I’m not buying your argument fully. The total number of GMAT test takers peaked in 2011-2012. It has plunged since – sometimes by double digit %. I see it as top schools are attracting more of the top scoring applicants in to the applicant pool. Having worked in Higher Ed for many years, I saw the number of full time program applicants trend downwards over the last decade as well. Mean GMAT scores have not changed significantly over last 5 years – from 544 in 2011 to 554 in 2015. Competition to achieve rankings success may have driven many top schools to weigh GMAT more heavily given the weighting assigned by the media institutions that rank B-schools, resulting in a higher average GMAT at the top schools.

    Full time enrollments have also decreased. Lower-ranked schools without heavy endowments and the inability to ‘take the loss’ of a declining enrollment have had to accept more lower-scoring candidates as well.

  • cfa2005@gmail.com

    Would someone @ P&Q please change the settings on this article so that it can be printed in its entirety without having to print pages separately??

  • alex@gaastra.co.uk

    It would be interesting from a stats side. The point I was trying to make was that as the number of GMAT takers has gone up the average at the top schools will also go up – if you could have the same 1000 top students in 1996 and 2016 they would have a higher gmat average in 2016 despite performing exactly the same on the test. I think you’re underestimating the disadvantage of being a none English speaker by the way – I’m an engineer from a top university and have done a lot of maths – my quant only puts me at 87% – the verbal 96%…

  • Apoorv Swarup

    Indians who apply to top schools do learn english from like 1st grade onwards and though not native speakers, they would certainly not be at a major disadvantage. Though the GMAT favoring native english speakers is something I agree with.

    I only asked since Indians are pretty much the largest set of candidates (and probably applicants as well) after domestic students in most schools, and this is the sort of input I got from not only several applicants but also from the representative of a prominent european business school, who almost explicitly mentioned that the average GMAT of the Indian candidate was typically far higher than their school average.

    And from what I noticed even among my peer group I had like a score on the lower most end (730 Q:51 V: 38) most of my peers have at the worst equivalent or higher scores (I know just one guy who scored lower than me a 710). Now this is obviously not a holistic representative of all Indian applicants and the example from the european school might not even be applicable for M7 schools (where all applicants might have amazing scores i.e. low standard deviation)

    Fact is since there are so many of us! there are probably thousands in India with like 730-740+ scores who end up applying, Thus the lot who do get accepted might have a score thats higher than most of the cohort.

    This story though might as well hold true and probably a few segments of the applicant pool (like the aforementioned group, the american consulting/IB background folks) might well be driving this mean score upwards, which can only be revealed through the standard deviation something the schools typically don’t disclose.

  • alex@gaastra.co.uk

    Basically the number of entrants has gone up dramatically and a lot of them are non-english speakers who struggle with the verbal. The scores are based on percentage of the population I.e. If there are 10000 entrants around 1000 can get over 700, however if there are 100000 entrants 10000 can go over 700. The number of seats at the top schools remains fairly static hence the overall score goes up. The top schools are American and recruit heavily from native English speakers. If you’re smart and a native English speaker the verbal section is pretty easy and you can train the quant. It’s a lot harder to do the reverse (which is the situation for Indian applicants etc). Plus the large number of non native English speakers doing badly on the verbal section makes it much easier to get a good mark if you are a native speaker (again because of percentages). End result is it’s much easier now for a smart American to get a really good gmat score as they have an inbuilt advantage over most of the competition. These people form the majority of the recruits at the M7 hence the average score goes up – the applicants aren’t any smarter. Ranking on gmat and gpa is a pretty crappy method. Gpas aren’t compatible between schools and subjects and gmat favours native English speakers.

  • Apoorv Swarup

    Extremely curious to know if any particular segment of the applicant base and enrolled candidates (Indian engineering grads like myself for instance) might be responsible for the increase to an extent. Does any school share the standard deviation of the scores perchance?

  • Remo

    race for higher gmat explains the low quality of recent graduates.

  • Esuric

    Rochester Simon shows up on both biggest gains and biggest declines lists.

  • AP

    It’s seriously becoming an arms race…