While it’s too early to tell for sure, it looks like applications to the best full-time MBA programs will be up again this year.
Yale School of Management says its unofficial numbers show a 36% increase in Round 2 applications this year, after an increase of about 10% in Round 1. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan saw record-breaking increases of more than 30% in applications in both rounds 1 and 2 – and its admissions director is spilling the beans about the ratcheted-up marketing campaign she believes made it happen.
Because few top business schools make public their application numbers in the midst of the annual application cycle, it’s impossible to say whether the figures from Yale and Ross signify an upswing in demand for the MBA degree.
FUTURE STILL UNCERTAIN
“Who knows what our app volume will look like next year,” says Ross admissions director Soojin Kwon. “We could do all the same things and possibly see apps level off or even decline.”
Yale admissions director Bruce DelMonico says a number of actions by the school have contributed to the jump in application numbers. “I’ve worked hard this year to really tighten up our communications to prospective applicants, which I think has yielded some benefits,” DelMonico says. Also, the formerly understaffed admissions office now has a full staff, and has been “more intentional about some of the outreach.” And certainly, Yale’s rise in rankings – significant gains last year in rankings by Poets&Quants, BusinessWeek, and the Financial Times – didn’t hurt.
“I don’t like to talk about rankings, but we’ve done well lately, and I imagine . . . that could contribute some as well,” DelMonico says.
DelMonico describes the Yale Round 2 applicant pool’s quality as “at least as strong as we’ve had in the past.”
Typically, Yale’s Round 2 generates the most applications, with Round 1 bringing in about half as many, and Round 3 netting half the number of Round 1, DelMonico says.
Duke University Fuqua School of Business reports full-time MBA application numbers for Round 2 are on par with last year’s Round 2 when its total applications for the year rose 9.6%.
Columbia Business School uses a rolling application process for it’s second round, which isn’t finished yet, but reports that so far the numbers are similar to last year’s. Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business says its Round 2 shows “a strong year for the quality, diversity, and volume of our applicant pool so far,” but doesn’t provide numbers.
RECORD ROSS NUMBERS EVEN BEFORE ROUND 3
At Ross, combined application numbers from rounds 1 and 2 already surpass the full-cycle count from any year of the past 10, and, says admissions director Kwon, “we still have one round left to go!”
Applications by women to Ross hit an all-time high, up 40% over last year, Kwon says. International applications also increased, which Kwon attributes to a new no-cosigner loan program, while U.S. applications jumped 25%, she says.
About 60% of Ross’s applications come in in Round 2, with 30% in Round 1, and 10% in Round 3, Kwon says.