Harvard | Mr. Tech Start-Up
GMAT 720, GPA 3.52
Harvard | Mr. CPG Product Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
NYU Stern | Mr. Brolic Bro
GRE 305, GPA 3.63
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Social To Tech
GMAT 700, GPA 2.7
Tuck | Mr. Running To The Future
GMAT 720, GPA 3.5
London Business School | Ms. Audit Meme
GMAT 710, GPA 3.5
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Wharton | Mr. Mobility Entrepreneur
GMAT 760, GPA 1st Division
Harvard | Mr. Cricket From Kashmir
GMAT 730, GPA 8.5/10
Georgetown McDonough | Mr. Aspiring Consultant
GMAT 690, GPA 3.68
HEC Paris | Mr. Analytics Consultant
GRE 326, GPA 9.05/10
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare Manager
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Microsoft Consultant
GMAT N/A, GPA 2.31
Tuck | Mr. Land Management
GMAT 760, GPA 3.85
Stanford GSB | Mr. Seller
GMAT 740, GPA 3.3
Wharton | Mr. Researcher
GMAT 700, GPA 3.2
NYU Stern | Mr. Beer Guy
GRE 306, GPA 4.0
Columbia | Mr. MD/MBA
GMAT 670, GPA 3.77
Harvard | The Insurer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. Data Dude
GMAT 750, GPA 4.0
Tepper | Mr. Automotive Strategy
GMAT 670 - 700 on practice tests, GPA 3.3
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Backyard Homesteader
GRE 327, GPA 3.90
Wharton | Mr. Finance to MBB
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
London Business School | Ms. Social Impact Consulting
GRE 330, GPA 3.28
Tepper | Mr. Insurance Dude
GMAT 660, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Ms. Indian Marketer
GMAT 680, GPA 8.9/10
NYU Stern | Mr. Middle Eastern Warrior
GMAT 720 (Estimated), GPA 3.0

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.