Hult: A Powerhouse Or A Pariah?

Hult President Stephen Hodges

Hult President Stephen Hodges

More telling, perhaps, the school is not ranked at all by three of the most influential business school rankings published by U.S. News & World Report, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and Forbes. Hult’s vice-president of global marketing, Michael Lu, says the school is not included in U.S. News’ rankings because that publication only considers two-year MBA programs with accreditation by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, which Hult does not possess, although it’s hoping to gain that, along with accreditation from the European Foundation for Management Development (EQUIS), through a planned merger with Ashridge Business School in the U.K., which is accredited by both bodies.

BusinessWeek had told Hult in previous years it did not meet its criteria for consideration, but has invited Hult to apply this year, Lu says.

Hult’s ranking in The Economist preceded the Hult family’s purchase of the school, Philip Hult says. “From the outside, it seemed like we did something, but we didn’t. The ranking was already there.” The school’s initial small size and student demographics helped in that ranking, as students were a bit older than those at many other schools and therefore often went on to receive higher-than-typical salaries, beneficial in the ratings, Hult says.

CLAIMS ONE CRITIC: THE ‘QUALITY OF TEACHING IS VARIABLE AND INCONSISTENT, USUALLY POOR’

Those rankings—which help to attract applicants to Hult—also set expectations that have done little to help the school. Hult, perhaps more than any other business school, provokes blog chatter of profound virulence. “Hult is the laughing stock of the MBA marketplace, there are others sure, but those are a lot cheaper. Quality of teaching is variable and inconsistent, usually poor. Students are treated as customers. A trained monkey could get into Hult, but after graduation, who wants to hire a trained monkey?” says one post, purportedly from a “Hult Boston alumni” on beatthegmat.com.

Hult President Stephen Hodges reels off numbers that contrast with the “trained monkey” contention. The acceptance rate for the MBA program, says Hodges, is 32%—roughly equal to the acceptance rate at INSEAD which bills itself as “the business school for the world.” For Hult’s business master’s programs, the acceptance rate is 40%, and for the Bachelor of Business Administration program, it’s a highly respectable 21%.

Hodges says the average GMAT score of Hult MBA students is around 610, which would be in the 64th percentile and about 63 points higher than the mean score on the test. In comparison, the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, widely recognized for its global MBA curriculum, has an average GMAT of 664. Like many other business schools, Hult is trying to boost its GMAT average. The school says that students scoring 650 to 699 are eligible to receive 15% off their fees. Those scoring 700 or higher may receive 25% off. At top institutions such as Harvard Business School and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, acceptance rates run below 15%, with average GMAT scores around 725.

HULT SAYS THERE IS ZERO CORRELATION BETWEEN GMATS AND STARTING SALARIES

Los Angeles-based admissions consultant Alex Leventhal of Prep MBA says the one inquiry about Hult he’s received from a prospective student prompted him to research the school online, and he recently revisited the school’s website.

“They’re not as forthcoming as other schools in terms of their stats on their website,” Leventhal says. He could not find average GMAT scores on the site, and noticed the school appeared to be downplaying the importance of those scores, saying there was not a strong correlation between the GMAT results and grades or future salaries, he says.

Indeed, the Hult website makes it clear that its admissions policy does not put much weight on entry exam results the way other schools do. “We have found a weak correlation between GMAT scores and Grade Point Averages, with zero correlation between GMAT scores and starting salaries,” according to Hult’s website. “Like many other top-ranked business schools . . . we do not have a minimum GMAT score. The Board of Admissions will not rule out great candidates based on their GMAT score alone.”