New Stanford Class Sets Several Records

Graduate School of Business Knight Management Center

Graduate School of Business Knight Management Center

Four months after Harvard Business School released its preliminary Class of 2016 profile, Stanford’s Graduate School of Business finally got around to dishing out its stats on the latest incoming class of MBA students. Published today (Oct. 7), Stanford’s Class of 2016 sets all-time records on several scores.

The latest incoming crop of MBAs is the largest class in the school’s history with record percentages of both female and international students. Out of a class of 410 newbies (vs. 406 last year), 42% are women, up six full percentage points from last year’s 36%, while 44% are from outside the U.S., up three percentage points from 41% last year. The international contingent at Stanford hails from 62 different countries, an all-time high.

Those numbers put Stanford on the high end among the elite U.S. MBA programs. In the latest enrolled classes at Harvard Business School and Wharton, for example, women represent 41% and 40% of the Class of 2016, respectively. At the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, which also released Class of 2016 data today, 36% of the latest entering class is female. MIT Sloan also managed a fairly significant increase in women, who now make up 40% of its newest class, up from 34% a year ago.

International students in this year’s incoming class at HBS are 35%, while at Wharton it’s slightly smaller at 31%. At Chicago, it’s 36%. Only UC-Berkeley’s Haas School and Emory University’s Goizueta School are close at 43% each, just a sliver off Stanford’s new 44% record.


Stanford revealed that applications to its MBA program increased by 3.5% to 7,355, up from 7,108 a year earlier. It was Stanford’s largest applicant pool in at least five years and substantially above the low point of 6,618 candidates who applied in the 2011-2012 academic year. Stanford’s application increase was larger than either Harvard or Wharton. Harvard reported a 2.4% rise to 9,543 applications, while Wharton’s volume was essentially flat this past year with 6,111, just 73 applications more than a year earlier.

Stanford did not disclose its acceptance rate for the Class of 2016. However, the slight increase in the applicant pool would not have caused a substantial change in its 6.8% acceptance rate for the previous year, making Stanford GSB the most selective business school in the U.S.  The average GMAT score for the class remained exactly the same as last year: 732, with a low of 550 and a high of 790 on the exam in which the highest possible score is 800. As usual, Harvard dipped lower into its GMAT pool, enrolling a student with a 510 this year.

Despite the significant increase in international students, there also were no substantial changes in the TOEFL scores for Stanford’s incoming MBAs. The school said the average score was 112, just a slight drop from 113 a year earlier. The range was 100 to 120 vs. 102 to 119 the previous year.


The school said that the number of incoming students who already have advanced degrees hit 19%, up four full percentage points from 15% last year. The number of STEM majors also grew to 38% of the incoming class, compared with  35% last year. That increase came at the expense of students who majored in the humanities and social sciences which slipped to 48% from 51% a year earlier.

The most significant change in work experience in the new class was a drop in students from consumer products and services. Last year, 11% of the incoming students had racked up work experience in the consumer products and services industry. This year there was a drop of four full percentage points in the number of students with that industry background to just 7% of the class.

Students from private equity and venture capital also were down, by two percentage points to 15% from 17% last year. Stanford enrolled slightly higher percentages of students with backgrounds in the government, military and non-profit sectors (15% vs. 13%) as well as biotech and healthcare (6% vs. 5%), technology (13% vs. 12%), and entertainment and media (5% vs. 4%). The largest single chunk of students continue to arrive at Stanford from finance (25%) and consulting (20%), followed by government, military and non-profits (15%), and technology (13%).


“Looking at the Stanford MBA class profiles over the years, you may notice that the percentages always shift a bit here or there,” according to the admissions office of the school in a post on the Stanford GSB website.  “With our class size, even two students can, and do, create such variations. Since our candidate pool is ever-changing, the numbers in the entering class change, too.

“These fluctuations also speak to our admission process. We don’t admit categories; we admit individuals. There are no quotas or targets in the Stanford admission process, and we assess each applicant based on her or his own merit. This is why we consider a class profile illustrative, rather than informative. In truth, there is no metric that can capture an individual’s potential.”

(See following page for a full comparison between Stanford’s MBA Class of 2016 & the Class of 2015)

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