Highest To Lowest Average GMAT Scores At Top Business Schools

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Year in and year out, the business school in the U.S. with the highest reported average GMAT score for its incoming class is Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. The class that entered in the fall of 2014 had GMATs of 732 which put Stanford’s MBA students in the 96th percentile of all GMAT test takers–on average! That’s nearly 190 points above the 547 average that all of GMAT’s test takers score.

More than any other number or fact in an MBA application, GMAT scores tend to matter the most. Surveys of admission officials have repeatedly shown that the number one killer for an MBA applicant is a low or unbalanced GMAT report. And when it comes to having the highest GMATs, the top five schools after Stanford are Wharton, Harvard, Chicago Booth, and New York University’s Stern School of Business.

There are only a dozen MBA programs in the U.S. that sport average GMAT scores of 700 or more. And that select group of schools has remained at the top of the MBA rankings over many years.


Average GMAT scores are among the most closely watched metrics on the quality of an incoming MBA class. They are consciously managed by many admission officials, largely because the numbers are a reflection on the performance of the admissions office and play a significant role in key rankings, particularly U.S. News & World Report where latest average GMAT scores account for slightly more than 16% of ranking results. Not surprisingly, surveys of admission officers continually show that the single biggest killer of an MBA application is a low or unbalanced GMAT score.

Who made the best year-over-year gains in average GMAT scores for their incoming classes? Generally, business schools that had significant increases in their applicant pools, allowing admission officials to be far more selective in who they admitted. Among the highly ranked schools, the GMAT climbing standouts include the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina, where the average score jumped 14 points to 697 last year. Applications to Kenan-Flagler’s full-time MBA program, not surprisingly, were up 28%.

The University of Washington’s Foster School was next with a 12-point increase to an average GMAT of 682, followed by Michigan State with an 11-point rise to 655. Both UCLA’s Anderson School and Yale’s School of Management also posted impressive increases, with Anderson up nine points last year to 715 and Yale up five points to 719. All of these schools also reported often significant increases in application volume last year.


There were larger increases at several second-tier business schools as well. Most notably, Texas Tech Rawls College of Business which reported a 36-point jump to an average score of 559 for its latest incoming class of MBAs. That kind of increase in a single year is highly unusual. For Rawls, the average GMAT score went from just above the 36th percentile to the 48th percentile. The University of Alabama’s Manderson Graduate School of Business posted a 27-point rise to average GMATs of 659 (see below table).

Schools Reporting Largest YOY Increases In Average GMAT Score


School Increase 2014 2013
Texas Tech (Rawls) +36 559 523
Alabama (Manderson) +27 659 632
Oklahoma (Price) +22 628 606
Cincinnati (Lindner) +21 622 601
Babson (Olin) +20 630 610
Wake Forest +20 652 632
Kansas +17 594 577
North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler) +14 697 683
Iowa State +14 636 622
Washington (Foster) +12 682 670
North Carolina State (Jenkins) +12 639 627
Michigan State (Broad) +11 655 644
San Diego State +11 607 596
Buffalo-SUNY +10 614 604
UCLA (Anderson) +9 715 706

Source: P&Q analysis of publicly available data from business schools

And what goes up must sometimes go down. The biggest year-over-year declines in GMAT scores for incoming classes were at Claremont’s Drucker School where scores plummeted 32 points to 577 from 609 a year earlier. The decline meant that average GMATs went from the 64th percentile of all test takers to below the 54th percentile in a single year. Tulane University’s Freeman School, still attempting to put behind a rankings scandal, saw average GMATs fall 27 points to 649. Louisiana State’s business school had a 22-point drop to 620 from 642 in 2013 (see table below).

Schools Reporting Largest YOY Declines In Average GMAT Score


School Increase 2014 2013
Claremont (Drucker) -32 577 609
Tulane (Freeman) -27 649 676
Louisiana State -22 620 642
Binghamton -20 606 626
UC-San Diego -18 660 678
Illinois (Liautaud) -15 591 606
Texas Christian (Neeley) -14 638 652
Boston University -12 670 682
CUNY (Zicklin) -11 630 641
Connecticut-Storrs -11 630 641
St. Thomas -11 557 568

Source: P&Q analysis of publicly available data from business schools

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