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

  • avivalasvegas

    While I take your point on the need to differentiate itself from HBS and GSB, I don’t view catering to the management consulting industry as the right path to achieve this. Indeed, if anything, it would appear that Kellogg’s Adcom has also learned of the perils of too much PowerPoint in the classroom, if the decline in admission of consultants is anything to go by.

    I believe Kellogg’s USP has always its collaborative approach, very applicable to Strategy, Tech, General Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Yes, you will have a much stronger network at HBS and much better access to the Bay Area at GSB. But you won’t be the alum who wins over the recruiter by demonstrating a relative lack of ego, a genuinely interesting and diverse background and an enjoyable personality.

    These are traits I look for when hiring for my teams as I have seen them enable the candidate to outperform the “lone wolves” other programs generate.

  • M7hopeful

    Completely agree with most of this. Having just graduated from Kellogg myself, I can speak to the huge push toward tech, analytics, and entrepreneurship. Clubs have become much more dedicated on all three fronts over the past two years, and job offers from major tech employers show a great progression. Google has nearly doubled MBA hires from Kellogg YOY for the past four years straight, Amazon has increased 25-50% YOY during the same time frame, and Apple has been a consistent major employer. Combine that with steadily increasing average GMAT and a new building and I think the school will be able to make a solid push for top three over the next few years.

    Regardless of similar moves from other top schools, I don’t think Kellogg’s position in the top five is in any jeopardy at this point.

  • WuGeMu

    As a perrenial top5 school but still yet less potent from a student talent and corporate recruiting perspective compared to H/S (albeit only slightly, esp on the talent front) it would seem to be more strategic that Kellogg differentiate itself and not try to copy H/S in every way or go straight head to head in certain arenas. And Kellogg has done exactly that historically, pioneering the teamwork model decades ago that’s actually pretty pervasive at this point and leading the way more recently on gender diversity. They are pretty much going to always trail those two schools on the high dollar PE/VC front, and super finance focused kids will always be more attracted to Wharton and Booth due to the recruiting advantage outside of banking (namely asset management). So being reasonably dominant (as is possible) in consulting can make sense. And it’s congruent with other aspects of Kellogg’s ‘secret sauce’ that they push to employers: high-EQ, fun kids + teamwork + strategy/marketing/general mgmt. At this point I think the bigger question is how much does Kellogg pivot to tech and entrepreneurship – where all the schools seem to want to assert themselves. Lastly, the lavish new building and K’s continued, demonstrated willingness to compete on the talent front (of which GMAT is indeed only a singular but still yet telling proxy) shows that they are intent on competing for that #3 spot.

  • avivalasvegas

    I’ve been very critical of Kellogg in the past, as I grew increasingly disgusted with the school’s mutation into a consultant factory, led by ex- consultants Blount and Ziegler, which had tangible negative impacts to the student experience for the remaining 65% of the student population.

    While I admire that Smith is trying to reduce those numbers, a 27% incoming consultant rate it still too high for a top tier program and needs to drop a few percent lower to HBS and GSB levels. Still, kudos to the school for diversifying the student body and increasing GMAT scores, neither of which are easy.

  • MBA alum

    While the GMAT is becoming more important, securing a MBA remains invaluable, especially if from one of the more prestigious programs. Clearly, you do not need to get a MBA to land a job at MBB and banks, since they are major recruiters for talented undergraduate students. The MBA’s greatest value are associated with learning new technical subjects like accounting and data analytics, how it can help accelerate one’s job promotions over the long-term, providing invaluable network of connections and providing greater flexibility related to job changes during one’s career. For both undergraduates and MBAs, MBB typically is a stepping stone to working in a field outside of consulting. That said, as a stepping stone, MBB is a fantastic learning environment with great connections.

  • MckinseyHR

    GMAT now is more important for MBB and Banks jobs than the MBA. You can apply for associate job at Mckinsey without degree but have 750 score. You will get in.

  • notjustgmat

    And I have seen absolute champs get rejected without interview at 760.
    Point is – of COURSE the GMAT is important, but simply having a great GMAT won’t get you in. That’s the harsh reality.

  • Tech

    Nailed it Bro!! I have seen studs rejected at 730.. Its turning out to be GMAT race..

  • textrata

    So, now, the competition is merely based on the GMAT! Why the hell do the MBA and spend that loads of money, just test, test, test, and then, test and test till score 750 and apply to target job!