Tuck Bucks Down Trend – Apps Up 7.5%

With applications to MBA programs down globally, Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business saw applications for a seat in its newly entered class rise 7.5% to 2,744 this past year. The increase allowed Tuck to bring its acceptance rate to 18%, down from 20% a year earlier. The average GMAT for enrolled MBA students, moreover, edged up another two points to a record 718, from 716 last year.

So far, Tuck is the only top school to buck a trend of lower application volume to MBA programs around the world. Applications at Stanford dropped 8.9%, for example, while the Johnson School at Cornell saw an 8.0% fall. Harvard Business School was down 4%, while Wharton was down 5.7%.

Dawna Clarke, Tuck’s director of admissions, attributed the rise to, among other things, how well the school has performed in placing its students in jobs through the uncertain economy of the past few years. “I think it’s a reflection of how the school is doing,” said Clarke in an interview with Poets&Quants. “The job stats have been really good for a couple of years through the recession.”

In 2010, for example, Tuck had the best stats of any of the top schools in having the highest percentage of grads employed at graduation (80%) and three months later (93.3%). (See story “Best B-Schools for Getting a Job.”)

The latest stats for Tuck’s Class of 2011 reaffirm the school’s success in placing its MBAs. In a “state of the school” address this morning to faculty and staff, Dean Paul Danos said that starting pay for the class was up by 7% this year and 97% of Tuck graduates had job offers within three months of commencement. Some 34% of the students went into consulting, 28% to finance, and 38% took jobs in general management and other positions. The biggest hirers: McKinsey, Bain, Boston Consulting Group, Amazon, J.P. Morgan, and Samsung.

Danos also said that Tuck set a new record for participation by alumni in the school’s annual giving campaign, breaking over the 70% level for the first time–70.5%.

Clarke said the application increase, moreover, was felt for both domestic and international applications. Generally, schools that have reported declines say that most of the downturn is due to far fewer U.S. applicants.

She also attributed the increase to sending more personalized email to potential applicants, a new Tuck website, and more aggressive use of technology to better leverage Tuck’s alumni network.

The 270 enrolled students in the Class of 2013 had an average grade point average of 3.5 and an average age of 28, with a range of ages from 24 to 36. Some 32.5% of the entering class is female, while 34% are international. Clarke said a new record number of the admits are from Europe this year.

Twice as many people have already started their online applications at this point than did last year, added Clarke, though registration and attendance at admission events have been down. “So we’re bracing for a bit of a lag,” she said.