The ‘Most Popular’ U.S. Business Schools

Wisconsin School of Business is ranked 30th among the best U.S. B-schools by Poets&Quants.

Wisconsin School of Business is ranked among the best U.S. B-schools by Poets&Quants.

Which business school is the most likely to enroll applicants who have been accepted into the MBA program?

Clue: It’s not Harvard, Stanford or Wharton.

That alone, of course, is surprising, but not as big a surprise as the school that reported the best yield, a closely watched number by admissions officials that tracks the percentage of accepted students who enroll.

The business school at the University of Wisconsin at Madison trounced every U.S. school, including many of the Top Ten elite schools, last year with a record yield of 90.4%. Harvard did come in second at 89.3%, while Stanford came in third, with 84.0%.

The numbers, reported by the schools to U.S. News & World Report, were published yesterday (May 21) when the magazine compiled a list of what it called the ten “most popular B-schools.” Wisconsin’s stellar showing was attributed to “a larger surge among public business schools – which tend to be less expensive than their private counterparts,” according to U.S. News. But it’s also a reflection of the small size of Wisconsin’s full-time MBA program, which enrolled just 94 students in the fall, and an impressive showing in recent rankings. The school is ranked 26th best in the U.S. by Poets&Quants, delivering significant value for the cost of the program.

Harvard, which typically has the highest reported yield number, had no significant falloff. The percentage of accepted students who enroll at Harvard tends to hover near the 90% mark year after year. The only school that HBS tends to lose admits to is Stanford. Wisconsin, on the other hand, had a dramatic rise in yield. In 2011, the school’s yield was 72.1%, while in 2010 it was 75.6%.

There were other surprises as well. Many of the most selective schools in the world—including the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, the University of Chicago’s Booth School, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business and Columbia Business School—didn’t make the top ten.

In fact, the rest of U.S. News’ top ten list is largely filled out by schools which typically rank far lower than the top 20. The No. 4 school, which isn’t ranked at all, is Oregon State University, with a yield of 81.5%.  Rounding out the top five is Brigham Young University’s Marriott School, with 75.0%.

In contrast, the yield rates at Columbia Business School and Wharton last year were 65.8% and 65.2%, respectively.

Highest Admission Yield Numbers of 2012


School                                               Yield      Accepted    Enrolled
  1. Wisconsin Business School 90.4% 104 94
  2. Harvard Business School 89.3% 1,029 919
  3. Stanford GSB 84.0% 474 398
  4. Oregon State University 81.5% 119 97
  5. Brigham Young (Marriott) 75.0% 224 168
  6. University of Kentucky (Gatton) 74.1% 108 80
  7. University of Houston (Bauer) 72.8% 103 75
  8. University of Tennessee-Knoxville 71.7% 106 76
  9. Ohio State University (Fisher) 71.4% 161 115
10. Pepperdine University 70.8% 130 92

Source: Business schools reporting to U.S. News & World Report

(See following page for the yield numbers of the top 25 U.S. business schools)

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