McCombs School of Business | Mr. Ernst & Young
GMAT 600 (hopeful estimate), GPA 3.86
Kellogg | Mr. Innovator
GRE 300, GPA 3.75
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Harvard | Ms. Developing Markets
GMAT 780, GPA 3.63
Yale | Ms. Biotech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.29
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Marine Executive Officer
GRE 322, GPA 3.28
Kellogg | Mr. Engineer Volunteer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Ms. Global Empowerment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.66
Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
Stanford GSB | Mr. Infantry Officer
GRE 320, GPA 3.7
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Apparel Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Armenian Geneticist
GRE 331, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Ross | Mr. Travelpreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 2.68
London Business School | Ms. Numbers
GMAT 730, GPA 3.5
IU Kelley | Mr. Fortune 500
N U Singapore | Mr. Naval Officer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
NYU Stern | Ms. Entertainment Strategist
GMAT Have not taken, GPA 2.92
INSEAD | Ms. Spaniard Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 8.5/10.00
NYU Stern | Mr. Army Prop Trader
GRE 313, GPA 2.31
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Stanford GSB | Ms. Healthtech Venture
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
Columbia | Mr. Senior Research Analyst
GMAT 720, GPA 3.58

Indian & Chinese MBA Applicants Face Much Higher Rejection Rates

“The language difficulties come into play, too,” adds Roeder. “It’s a hurdle that has to be overcome. Any international student coming into a U.S. school has more hurdles to overcome than a domestic student in terms of the job search. It’s a highly competitive process. The bottom line is we want our students to come into our program and be highly successful landing a good job. If they can’t do that, we haven’t done our job. We don’t want unhappy students or unhappy alumni.”

At the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business, 44% of the 1,826 applicants to its full-time MBA program last year were international—but only 21% of the school’s enrolled students this year are from outside the U.S. The upshot: 17.2% of the U.S. applicants are now students at Marshall, while only 5.6% of the international applicants are students. It’s not possible to tell how many domestic versus international applicants were accepted and declined an invitation to attend Marshall. But U.S. citizens are more than three times as likely to be enrolled at the school than international applicants.


“In general, what you’re seeing across all universities, whether it is business school or college, is that the largest applicant pools by far are from China and India,” explains Shantanu Dutta, vice dean for graduate programs at Marshall. “They are very good applicants. It’s possible for us to fill the whole international pool by just one of these countries. But it’s very important to get diversity in the class. We have students from 18 countries, and candidates from China and India already make up the largest number of international students.”

Another key issue, adds Dutta, is the difficulty international students have getting work visas to stay in the U.S. “The hurdle rate for them in terms of getting visas is challenging,” says Dutta. “Most international students still believe in the American dream. We tell them the market is tough in the information sessions and try to manage expectations, but when they come everyone thinks they can beat the odds.

So we’re more selective on the international front. We don’t want to create expectations that we can’t meet.”

Or consider Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Last year, about 1,830 applicants from abroad applied for admission to the full-time MBA program. All told, international applicants accounted for 53% of Fuqua’s entire applicant pool. Yet only some 133, or 7.3%, are enrolled in the entering class. In the same year, some 1,622 U.S. citizens applied, representing the remaining 47% of the pool, and roughly 309 of them, or 19.1%, are enrolled. It’s clear that international applicants have a much harder time of getting into the school.

MBA admissions consultants say that most schools are trying to balance the diversity of an entering class with the merit of the applicants who apply. “In creating an MBA class, top business schools face the challenge of establishing ‘a meritocracy with diversity,’” says Dan Bauer, founder and managing director of The MBA Exchange, an admissions consulting firm. “Balancing meritocracy and diversity means that neither aspect can be disregarded. When these two variables are not considered in tandem, the admission process ceases to be objective and fair.”

(See next page for a table comparing applicant pools with enrolled MBA students)

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.