Top Business Schools Have Grown More Selective Than Ever In Past Decade

Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business

Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business

IT’S HARDER TO GET ACCEPTED AT NEARLY ALL MAJOR PROGRAMS 

However, elite schools aren’t the only ones that are becoming more selective. Among the 48 high-ranking programs where Poets&Quants was able to dredge up acceptance rates for the past 10 years, 44 schools had lower acceptance rates in 2014 than 2005.

And the biggest mover here was Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business. In 2005, the program accepted nearly two-thirds of applicants who applied (62.6%). Today, it rejects roughly three-fourths, with its acceptance rate coming in at 26.2% in 2014. Along with being more selective, Jones is also beefing up its academic profile, with average GMAT scores rising from 602 to 676 over the past ten years (and average GPAs jumping from 3.24 to 3.40). What’s behind this academic renaissance? Scholarships, baby! 94% of Rice students receive aid from the school, with the average grant being $33,320. In fact, the $6.7 million dollars in total scholarships offered by the school covers roughly 59.0% of student tuition.

The Olin Business School at Washington University, one of the smallest top-tier programs with an incoming class of 139 students, reflects a similar trend. It reported a 55.7% acceptance rate in 2005, which has since plummeted to 26.7% in 2014. With this decline, the school has attracted a stronger student body in recent years, at least academically. Average GMAT scores have skyrocketed from 636 to 699 over the past decade, while its three-month placement rate has increased by six percent (90.7% to 96.9%).

However, as noted earlier, most MBA programs are recruiting better students than they did a decade ago. As a result, Washington University is struggling to stand out, as evidenced by a nearly identical U.S. News peer assessment score (3.7 vs. 3.6) and a lower recruiter score (3.3 vs. 3.8) from 2005. Similar to Rice, 64% of Olin full-time MBA students receive grants, with the average being $30,990. In other words, Olin can be more picky with applicants because it can afford to be. By coupling a sterling academic reputation with generous financial incentives, Olin is now able to net students that would normally matriculated upstream.

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