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.”