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Indian & Chinese MBA Applicants Face Much Higher Rejection Rates

MBA applicants from India and China face significantly higher rates of rejection by many top U.S. business schools than either domestic candidates or those from Europe or Latin America, according to a new study by Poets&Quants. In some cases, the acceptance rate for U.S. citizens is four to five times higher than the rate of acceptance for Indian and Chinese applicants.

At some prominent business schools, international applicants now outnumber those from the U.S. That’s the case at MIT Sloan, Duke University’s Fuqua School, and Michigan’s Ross School of Business. At Purdue University’s Krannert School nearly eight out of ten in its latest MBA applicant pool were international. At Washington University’s Olin School of Business, 70% of last year’s 1,490 applicants to its full-time MBA program were non-U.S.

Yet, at all of these prestige B-schools the percentage of international students who are admitted and enrolled fall far behind the percentage who apply. At Washington’s Olin School, for example, only 35% of the latest entering class is international–even though international candidates made up 70% of the school’s applicant pool. Although 53% of the 3,452 applicants to Fuqua’s full-time MBA program were international, only 30% of the students in this fall’s entering class are not from the U.S.

A RARE AND UNUSUAL GLIMPSE AT THE APPLICANT POOLS OF TOP B-SCHOOLS

The rarely seen data on the makeup of the MBA applicant pool–as opposed to the actual students enrolled–comes from B-schools which have supplied this information for the first time to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Not all schools agreed to hand over this data. Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and Columbia were among the top institutions that declined to provide this information. Yet, most business schools, including some of the most prominent, complied with the request to shed light on their applicant pools.

APPLICANTS FROM INDIA & CHINA FACE DRAMATICALLY HIGHER RATES OF REJECTION

Though schools disclosed information for all their international applicants, admission officials say the major problem is with Indian and Chinese MBA candidates largely because there are so many of them. An internal admissions report obtained by Poets&Quants from a top ten business school certainly supports that conclusion. The report reveals that applicants from China and India are more than four to five times likely to be turned down for admission than either domestic applicants or those from Europe, Latin America, Africa or the Middle East.

Last year, for example, 20% of the applications received by the school were from China and other Asian countries while 22% were from India. The school’s acceptance rate for the Chinese and Indian applicants was 10% and 8%, respectively. The acceptance rate for U.S. citizens was 39%–four to five times higher.

International applicants from other regions of the world fared much better than the Asians. The school accepted 39% of its European applicants, and 26% of its applicants from Latin America and the Middle East. The overall acceptance rate was just a tad above 25%.

Admission officials say there are many reasons for the discrepancy between the size of the international applicant pool and the students ultimately enrolled at their schools, from a need to craft more balanced and diverse classes to language difficulties that make some international students less attractive to the job market. No less important, they say, is their own inability to meet the expectations of students from China and India to stay in the U.S. and gain visas to work here after graduation.

INTERNATIONAL APPLICANTS VIEWED FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A RECRUITER

“We’re looking at it from the perspective of a corporate recruiter hiring our class two years later,” explains John Roeder, admissions director for Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Business. At Owen, international applicants made up 45% of the 1,013 applicants who applied for admission to this fall’s entering class. But only 25% of the class is composed of international students.

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