Introducing The MBA Class Of 2017

Class of 2017

Traditionally, we associate spring with fresh starts. As temperatures climb and the landscape turns green, we behold a world renewed with possibilities. For MBAs, this transformation truly begins in the fall. Bursting with ideas and thirsting to be more, a new class of young professionals stream onto campus as students again, embarking on life-defining journeys. In the coming months, they will step outside their comfort zones. At first, they will feel overwhelmed, stumble, and wonder if they belong. Like MBAs before them, they will persevere and inevitably shine.

And the Class of 2017 will be no different. This month, first-years begin their orientations. A year ago, most were consumed with GMAT prep, self-reflection, interviews, and tying up loose ends. Now, they are looking to seize the moment and make their mark.

Jay Obaze

Jay Obaze

“I want to leave [the Berkeley-Haas community] in a better position than when I arrived,” writes Jay Obaze, a transplanted New Yorker who left a secure gig at American Express to immerse himself in Silicon Valley’s startup culture. And Georgetown’s Tahira Taylor, who volunteered with the Peace Corps before moving into the sharp-elbowed world of advertising, was more blunt about her aspirations. “I want all of my classmates to know who I am.”


Business schools pride themselves on assembling classes with a wide array of backgrounds, and this year’s group of MBA students is among the diverse ever. A review of preliminary class profiles for 12 Top 20 American business schools, including Harvard, Wharton, Booth, Kellogg, and Columbia, shows one thing for certain: Business students are increasingly female and international.

Roughly 39.1% of the incoming students at these top dozen schools are now women, with several schools reporting record levels of female enrollment. For example, Haas’ female population has risen from 29% to 41% in the last two years alone (and five full percentage points at both Booth and Kellogg in the last year). In fact, five Top 10 MBA programs – Harvard, Wharton, Booth, Haas, and Kellogg – all report that 40% or more of their 2017 class is female (with figures from Stanford, MIT, Dartmouth, and Duke not yet released).

Business schools also are drawing different populations. Among schools reporting early data, 36.1% of their 2017 class hail from overseas. American minority populations are also growing, accounting for 27.3% of students in the schools’ sample, with Harvard and Kellogg showing a increase of three percentage points over the Class of 2016.

The top MBA programs also  are enrolling a higher caliber student. In 2002, entrants from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business averaged a 687 GMAT. Today, that number has skyrocketed to 726. Ten years ago, incoming Kellogg MBAs averaged 700 GMATs. Today, that number has risen to 724 (and schools such as New York University and the University of Texas have experienced similar growth).



  • omarelmessawy

    There is any scholarship option for the international student.

  • bwanamia

    Actually, there’s HYPSM and all the rest. Period. All the rest includes the remaining Ivy+ schools; Williams, Swarthmore and Amherst; and Pomona and Middlebury. However, it would be hyperbole to say that the average student at one of these other schools is “nowhere near as desirable” as an HYPSM student. See:


    Middlebury had 5 students in the Class of 2016 at HBS and has another 4 coming in this year. That’s just one school.

    A little research wouldn’t kill ya next time.

  • EV

    3 questions worth asking:1) If, say, Mark Zuckerberg/Elizabeth Holmes/Drew Houston or another accomplished person applied to an MBA program, where would they go?
    2) Would this person give sh*t about her GMAT?
    3) Would the school give a sh*t about her GMAT?

  • dr

    I hear ya, but I stand behind it – the gist of my argument – essentially supply and demand – is fleshed out a little more in a comment above.

  • DR

    US News doesn’t rank LAC and Universities side by side, which is why I mentioned Forbes. Of course, LAC and Universities are different animals. I did not mean to suggest that the LAC students are more impressive, though I think the low student body counts and zero emphasis on athletics probably means there is lower absolute numbers of deadwood students. My point was that the LAC students are a scarcer resource and so their degrees represent a point of distinction. HBS probably gets hundreds of Harvard graduates a year, but only one or two from each elite LAC. Your pool of competition as an LAC applicant is smaller, making you more desirable as an individual.

  • not really

    when it comes to LACs, the only ones that really compete with the ivies are Williams, Swarthmore and Amherst. and even when it come to these three, most the time students are transferring from one of these three to the ivies not the other way around

  • not really

    you are pushing it too far. they are both amazing schools but the average Pomona or Middlebury student is nowhere near as desirable as the average student at ivies + Stanford, mit, Chicago, duke. Now are there students in the two aforementioned schools that are more impressive than ivy+ students, definitely yes, but as a whole the ivy+ student body is def more impressive…..also no one really takes seriously the forbes rankings. the only rankings that matter are us news and also the parchment rankings which show relative desirability of the schools, since us news decided to exclude yield from their formula a few years ago….these schools are great but to say they are at the same level or even above the ivies is kind of far fetched..

  • fidel305

    Both are excellent schools, but don’t get carried away.

  • Jeff Schmitt

    Hi, Jim. I was actually thinking of the size of these schools (1500-2000 students) compared to much larger public programs, but I did my story no favors by pairing them up with Western Washington, a mid-size public. Probably should’ve re-phrased. Thanks!

  • DeeFan

    What percentage of the international students and of the minority students are female? What percentage of the student body is non-minority non-international male? How do the GMATs across these various demographics differ?

  • dr

    It’s amusing that a site that covers education is unaware of what the top-tier colleges are. I mean, look at the Forbes college rankings. Given the small class sizes and consequent scarcity of applicants, the average Pomona or Middlebury student is probably more desirable than students from most of the Ivies.

  • Jim

    The author seems to be unaware that Pomona and Middlebury are among the top colleges in the United States.

  • Jim


  • James Lee

    Take in people with 4-500+ GMAT => more people with 4-500+ GMATs think they have a shot => more applications get sent in => acceptance rate decreases => school ranking and perception of reputation improve

  • Why

    why does HBS and Booth take in people who have 500+ GMATs? How does that square with the fact that their averages are going higher every year? If they wanted higher averages should they not just simply take in people with at least 650 just like Wharton, Columbia and Kellogg? Its not like they would have a hard time doing that if they wanted to since W/col/K seem to easily do it.