The B-School Class of 2015: By The Numbers

Chicago's Booth School of Business

Chicago’s Booth School of Business


When it came to women and international students, the portrait of the Class of 2015 is mixed. Four schools reported increased percentages for women and non-U.S. students, while four reported decreases. Harvard, Stanford, Kellogg, and Tuck enrolled more women this year than last, with Wharton boasting the highest percentage at 42% and Haas with the lowest at just 29%. Duke, Berkeley, MIT Sloan, and Wharton had slightly lower enrollments of women this year over last.

The Top Ten schools with the highest percentage of international students are Stanford, MIT, and Duke–all at 41% of this year’s incoming group. The lowest percentage is at Tuck with 32%. The percentage of international students went up this year at Chicago (by four full percentage points to 36%), MIT, Columbia (also by four full percentage points to 36%), and Duke. Percentages fell slightly at Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, and Tuck.

The numbers also shed a bit more light on Wharton’s application decline. Wharton officials have suggested that the drop was largely due to a new discussion-based admissions test that scared off some applicants who speak English as a second language. Though some admission consultants have pooh-poohed that explanation, the Class of 2015 enrollment stats tend to verify the conclusion the new test put off applicants from outside the U.S. The percentage of international students in Wharton’s Class of 2015, for example, fell to 35% from 38%, but at schools strong in finance that are thought to be direct rivals to Wharton, such as Chicago and Columbia, the percentages of international students in the Class of 2015 rose significantly. At both Chicago and Columbia, international students now make up 36% of the newly entered class, up four percentage points from 32% just a year ago.


The numbers show that the most significant year-over-year progress is being reported by Chicago Booth. Not only was Booth’s application increase higher than any other top ten business school, this year’s record GMAT and GPA averages put the school just behind Harvard and Stanford. Booth’s 730 GMAT median, in fact, is equal to Harvard Business School’s median for the first time in the school’s history. If not for Wharton’s unusual seven-point jump in average GMAT, a jump that admission consultants claim was a more conscious decision by the school to detract attention from yet another decline in applications, Chicago Booth’s numbers would have exceeded Wharton’s average for the first time.

The uptick in applications at Booth, combined with Wharton’s drop, allowed Booth to trim its acceptance rate to 21%, just a tick better than Wharton’s 22% rate for the Class of 2015. The school’s yield–the percentage of admitted applicants who enroll in the MBA program–is now on par with Wharton as well: 62.5% at Chicago vs. an estimated 65% at Wharton. But the incoming stats for the Class of 2015 fail to capture equally compelling data on graduates.

“We are starting to see changes in the aspirations of our students on the way out,” says Kole. “They just don’t mirror MBA job trends, rather thay are reflecting that Chicago is making a more compelling case for entrepreneurship. It’s not just (Admissions Director) Kurt or me saying we’re good at something. There is something tangible that people can grab onto. We are seeing more people interested in energy and education. That didn’t exist ten years ago. Longer term, we are seeing a broadening of aspirations.”

When Forbes magazine surveyed the Class of 2008 to crank out its most recent return-on-investment ranking of MBA programs, Chicago Booth was second, behind only Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. It was a surprising showing, particularly given Booth’s long-time reputation in finance which was the most damaged sector in the Great Recession that generally punished Class of 2008 grads. Yet, Chicago Booth alumni reported five-year gains in average salary of $92,600, well above Harvard’s $79,600 or Wharton’s $74,400. “The fact that members of the Class of 2008 are sitting just behind Stanford in ROI tells me there is an enduring value to the Booth degree because so many went into finance,” says Kole. “That is very positive. And the thoughtful applicant is seeing that because 54% of that class went into finance roles in 2008.”

  • gaurav jain

    !hav to try hard!

  • JohnAByrne

    It’s hard to know if these numbers are directly comparable with each other because they sometimes don’t match exactly across all the schools. Each school breaks down its class the way it wants to rather than using a standard method so that the numbers would be easily comparable.

  • Grad

    I’m curious as to why HBS takes such few humanities majors (way less than the others). Is this a relapse from experimenting with more diversity?

  • jac2016mba

    The “Portrait of Class of 2015 – Undergraduate Backgrounds” looks weird for Harvard Stanford. The differences for the two schools for Econ/Biz and Humanities/Social Science are huge. I wonder if it’s a categorization thing and they are actually much closer? e.g. maybe the econ people for stanford are classified under humanities/social science.

  • MBASeeker

    Thank you for all of this useful info and all the work you do. Will this information also be provided for the schools in the 10 to 20 rank positions? Thx

  • john’s mother

    John goes deep into insanity

  • john’s mother

    John grinds camels

  • john’s mother

    John camels

  • john’s mother

    There is incorrect and inaccurate information due to a lack of proper care and lack of proof reading.

  • Guest

    John, thanks for great data analysis as usual. Isn’t absolute application volume more telling than the YoY growth? Booth shows a strong growth in apps, but in absolute terms the ranking is: H, S, W, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth. ROIs and GMATs aside, this shows where the people really try to get into.

  • FStratford

    The undergrad background speaks volumes: MIT is the STEM school, Harvard, Booth, Kelogg Tuck, Haas and Duke are Biz Schools, and Stanford, Wharton and Columbia are Humanities schools…

    Everyone else have STEM as a second’ish choice, but MIT likes them a lot.

  • ?

    Why are they combining programs for this statistic? It seems like you are comparing apples to oranges in this case. What is the YoY chg. for its two-year MBA program alone? Could that be the 1.1% increase? Maybe I’m missing something. Thanks.

  • JohnAByrne

    The latest update from Kellogg. The school is now reporting that applications to its two-year MBA and MMM programs were up 8.3% this past year to 4,964 from 4,583 a year earlier. This change is now reflected in the table above. We had earlier been told by Kellogg that the increase was only 1.1% but the communications person who relayed that information was wrong. So the 8.3% rise is more in line with the 9% the school reported in May before its round three deadline closed out.

  • JohnAByrne

    Thanks for noticing. We corrected the table. The problem is that many schools don’t make this all that easy to find and then some are more transparent than others. Columbia actually did a very good job of posting all the relevant info. I missed the data that would allow me to do the acceptance rate. It’s corrected now.

    As for the increase in apps and why we didn’t do a separate story, here’s what I think. A double-digit decrease or a double-digit increase at a top school seems to warrant a separate story. That’s why I wrote about the 19% plunge last year and am covering the 6.6% rise in a more comprehensive story about the top schools this year. But your question is a good one and I think it is worth a special mention in this story at the very least. So I did add a paragraph on it.

  • JohnAByrne

    Actually, we reported on Poets&Quants that applications to the full-time program at Kellogg were up about 9%. This is what we were told by the school back in May. But when we checked in again for the figures, the numbers in the table were confirmed by the school. We’ve been going back and forth with Kellogg for days now trying to get to the bottom of this.

  • LS

    John – didn’t Kellogg have a 12.9% increase in number of applications? This is not reflected in the table. The table says Kellogg merely had a 1.1% increase.

  • P&QJokes

    This top 10 list is weird…