New Record GMAT Average At Kellogg

A pair of sweeping 34-foot-wide stairways reminiscent of Rome’s renowned Spanish Steps anchor the Collaboration Plaza. The steps serve as a convening place for students and link the lower level, first and second floors of Kellogg’s new Global Hub.

The newest incoming MBA class at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management boasts the highest average GMAT score ever recorded at the school: 732, up four points over last year. The latest increase is after a 20-point rise in the average over the previous five years from 708 in 2012.

If peer schools merely maintain their average scores this year, that would put Kellogg behind only Stanford’s Graduate School of Business in having the highest average GMAT score for an entering MBA class. Only last month, Stanford said it expected its average to hit 740 this year, up from a year-earlier 737. Harvard Business School’s average last year was 729; Wharton was 730, and Chicago Booth was 726.

The school’s admissions chief says the increase is largely the result of rising scores in its applicant pool rather than an admissions objective. “It’s not something that we have been focused on,” says Kate Smith, assistant dean of admissions and financial aid. “We have seen the average GMAT of our applicant pool rise and our GMAT average has reflected very consistently the rise of the demand in the applicant pool.” As previously reported, applications for the two-year MBA program rose slightly by 1% to 4,595 from 4,553 a year earlier.


Kate Smith heads up MBA admissions at the Kellogg School of Management

In releasing the class profile for the Class of 2019 today (August 7), Kellogg said the range of GMAT scores for the 478 two-year MBA students who will come to campus later this month for orientation was 600 to 780. “I always want to emphasize that the GMAT is only one element of our application process,” Smith adds. “GMAT scores, undergraduate GPA and an applicant’s undergraduate coursework are all aspects that we evaluable in the process.” The average GPA for the class of 3.6 remained the same.

Kellogg does not release equivalent GRE scores in its class profile, but Smith told Poets&Quants there would have been no significant increase in those numbers. “I have not seen a material increase in applicants with GRE scores,” she says. “At Kellogg, we have no preference at all for one test over the other. We accept either for consideration.”

Kellogg also maintained its high percentage of women at 42%. That’s a single percentage point better than last year’s level and just a single percentage point lower from Kellogg’s record of 43% set two years ago. “We are admitting more women than ever in the last few years because the demand of really talented women applying to Kellogg has gone up,” Smith told Poets&Quants.  “The difference between our record year and this year is a rounding error, really. “We continue to see increased demand from women in our applicant pool.”


Kellogg, the highest ranked U.S. business school with a female dean, has been rolling out a number of initiatives to appeal to women. Only last September, the school hired Ellen Taaffe as director of women’s leadership programs. Taaffe brought more than 25 years of career experience in senior brand management and corporate strategy roles.  The school has also made room in student government for a new leadership position on diversity and inclusion. “In the past year,” adds Smith, “we have also launched a new women’s leadership seminar and more than 160 women from our MBA program particiapted in it. The demand has been growing year on year.”

The percentages of international and U.S. minority students also held steady in the new class. Some 35% of the incoming MBA candidates will be international, off from the record 40% in 2015, while one in four will be a U.S. minority. The average age in the class is 28, with an average 5.1 years of work experience, though the range of work experience varies from 3.5 years to seven years.

“It’s another great class,” says Smith. “We definitely agree that we are incredibly excited to welcome another diverse, high achieving group of students to Kellogg this fall. This is the first group in our new global hub for the full length of their academic journey. That is a fun milestone. As with every year,  we look for leaders who are focused on collaborating and seeking to create impact and lasting value wherever they go. Our goal is to create small communities of students from every background. The highlights for me continue to be in and around diversity and breadth of students.”

The Class of 2019 profile for the two-year MBA students at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management