GMATs & Tech Students Hit Records At Kellogg

The new global hub of Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management

The new global hub of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management today (Aug. 4) reported record average GMATs for its incoming class of two-year MBAs this fall as well as a record number of students from the technology industry.

In releasing its class profile for the Class of 2018, the school said average GMAT scores rose four full points to 728, the 96th percentile of all GMAT testers. The increase is on top of the eight-point jump the previous year. Only five years ago, the average GMAT score at the school was 712. If Kellogg’s peer schools maintain their GMAT numbers, the new record would put Kellogg’s GMAT average beind only two other schools: Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business (733) and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School (732).

Despite the 16-point rise in five years, the school’s top admission official says the increase is largely a result of the increasing quality of Kellogg’s applicant pool — where the average for all applicants is now above 700 — and not a conscious effort by Kellogg to increase its reported GMAT scores. The rise also occurs in a year in which applications to Kellogg’s two-year MBA program rose 6%, to 4,553 from 4,300 a year earlier. 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.


Kate Smith, Kellogg's director of admissions. Photo by Andreas Larson

Kate Smith, Kellogg’s assistant dean of admissions. Photo by Andreas Larson

“We are really fortunate to have a pool of great applicants across all the spectrums,” says Kate Smith, assistant dean of admissions. “The GMAT is just one element of our holistic approach to evaluate candidates. We have always valued the comprehensive applicant over scores or stats. We would never compromise that.”

The middle 80% range of GMAT scores for the new class remained the same as last year, from 690 to 760, and the undergraduate grade-point average also was exactly as last year, at 3.6.

The percentage of incoming MBAs with tech backgrounds, meantime, rose 6 full percentage points to 14% of the class, up from only 8% a year earlier. “We see this as a reflection of the business cycle,” Smith says. “There is greater interest among students in tech careers and strong demand from the tech industry for our MBA graduates.”

The sharp increase in students with tech work experience in a single year came at the expense of consulting, which saw a 6-percentage-point decline to 19% of the incoming class, down from 25% last year. In fact, in a rare occurence for Kellogg, the percentage of students with financial services backgrounds exceeded those from consulting. Finance types will represent 22% of the class, up just a percentage point from 21% a year ago.


“We weren’t intentionally looking to raise or to lower any feeder industry,” says Smith, who adds that the change in the industry backgrounds of the class was the result of which applicants made the strongest candidates for admission.

Otherwise, there were only minor changes in the composition of the class by industry work experience. Students with consumer products experience remained steady at 7%. MBA students with energy work experience will total 3% of the class, exactly the same as last year. Those with government and nonprofit backgrounds also will account for 7% of the class, down 2 percentage points from 9% a year earlier. Healthcare backgrounds will represent 5% of the students, up from 4% last year. Students from the military fell by half to 2%, and manufacturing is at 4%, up slightly from 3% a year ago.

The tech surge also drove up the percentage of students with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) undergraduate degrees. STEM students will make up 29% of this year’s incoming students, a rise of 3 percentage points from 26% a year earlier. Those with undergraduate backgrounds in economics and business fell to 45% from 48%, while students with humanities undergraduate majors edged up a percent to 28% of the class.


Though the percentage of women in the new class fell to 41% from last year’s record 43% total, the overall number of women enrolled in the two-year MBA program has never been higher. Kellogg created, in partnership with the Women’s Business Association, a five-week-long leadership seminar of lectures and panels to provide greater support for female students. Some 120 women in this year’s graduating class participated in that seminar series.

International students also declined by 5 full percentage points, to 35% this year from 40% last. They hail from 53 countries, though the top four regions or countries of the world are India, Asia, Latin America, and Canada. The size of the class, at 474, also fell from 492 last year. “About 475 is a nice target for us,” Smith says. “We are never going to land on an exact number, but the 474 falls within our target range.”

U.S. minorities represent 26% of the class, up 3 percentage points from 23% a year earlier. “We are incredibly excited to welcome a diverse, high-quality group of students this fall. The quality of the applicant pool has continued to improve. It’s really about us having a deep commitment to diversity. We believe this class will continue to represent that ethos.”

Smith notes that a chief diversity officer reports directly to Dean Sally Blount, and this year the Kellogg Student Association created a new leadership position, a vice president of diversity and inclusion.

This year’s incoming one-year MBA class totals 131 students, up slightly from 128 last year.

(See following page for how this year’s entering class compares with previous classes)

  • MG


  • John

    Typical answer of someone who probably scores low on the GMAT

  • avivalasvegas

    Couldn’t agree with you more. See my post below.

  • avivalasvegas

    You’re not the only one who went through the career coaching process at Kellogg. Who did you work with? Emily? Megan Thomas? Mary? Liza?

    I’m sure they’re wonderful people but they’ve got goals to meet too. Which is why they do encourage students into professions the student’s don’t want – I know too many consultants who were herded and / or lured into the profession thanks to the Kellogg’s encouragement and the profession’s blatant on-campus propaganda.

    You’re obviously still in your Kellogg bubble happy place. Get past the atrium effect and open your eyes.

  • Kellogg MBA 2017

    This is a bold-faced lie. I went through the whole internship process at Kellogg six months ago, and my career coach helped me reach the conclusion that I should turn down an offer, even without another one in my back pocket, if the company wasn’t the right fit for me. I was lucky enough to be able to turn down a couple offers in search of the right one for me.

    The career coaches at Kellogg are some of the nicest people I’ve met. They want you to succeed for YOU, not for the school. To state that they’re pushing students into career paths they don’t want is simply incorrect.

  • Warren

    someone said it: race for the gmat explains the poor leadership quality of recent grads. Schools focusing on scores such GMAT, GRE, and GPA, will lead them to produce analysts and spreadsheet kids with little business and leadership skills.

  • avivalasvegas

    Quite serious. Consulting numbers went down this year but have been at historic highs for several.

    I don’t have a problem with the new building but I do have a problem with the people who fundraised for the new building. It’s not just the Ad-com either. Sally’s myopia has infected the career center as well. No one who attends the career advising will say that the place doesn’t herd students into considering jobs they don’t want (top of the list of industries – you guessed it – consulting).

  • 2nd year student

    Are you serious? Consulting background % went down significantly which is the exact opposite of what you just said, Kellogg is also placing into more diverse industries as well. Have to agree that they have put more emphasis on gmat though. Regarding the new building its just a matter of being on par with the Bschool trend to have shinny new buildings (I couldn’t care less but many prospects do).

  • avivalasvegas

    What a bunch of PR BS! The increase in GMAT is a direct result of pressure from Sally on Kate Smith to admit from the tech and consulting industries, given the better chances of subsequent placements. This article nails it when they say that “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 used to be an institution that welcomed the best from several industries and taught them to be good business leaders, regardless of rankings. Sally Blount and Dean Z have fundamentally changed the DNA of the school in their thirst for upwards rankings momentum. (Sally won’t hesitate to quote any upwards movement on rankings as she floats around “The Jake” flopping her hands about).

    Pains me to say this but Sally will get what she wants. A shiny new LEED silver rated glass building filled with risk averse, topically experienced management consultants and a higher ranking. And the real irony is that no one will realize that she mortgaged the schools reputation to pay for it all.

  • Kellogg alumni

    Kellogg will soon be number 1.