Meet The Chicago Booth MBA Class of 2017

Members of the Class of 2017 at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business

Members of the Class of 2017 at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business

Many consider the Booth School of Business to be the prototype of a “quant school.” You can almost picture a pack of spreadsheet jockeys, who live like monks as they master hedging and tax strategy. But you won’t find many stiffs at Booth – the kind whose calculations are as icy as a January gust from Lake Michigan. Instead, you’ll run across genuine and ambitious professionals, whose sanguine energy mirrors the pioneer stock who built the Midwest.

And you’ll find this Booth spirit in boardrooms across the globe. Best known as the alma mater of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Booth’s alumni include the CEOs of Credit Suisse, Chevron, Hyatt Hotels and Cargill (and CFOs for IBM and Disney). And its graduates helped found leading firms like The Blackstone Group, Evercore Partners, Bain Capital, GrubHub, and The Carlyle Group. Oh, and a Booth alum even manages Bill Gates’ money too.

That’s a wide-ranging portfolio of industries. And the backgrounds of the Class of 2017 reflect similar diversity. They include Jonathan Coffey, who helped shaped NASDAQ’s corporate strategy. Ameerah Phillips, who is also pursuing a Master of Public Policy at the University of Chicago, previously worked for Organizing For Action, a non-profit community organizing project that was the outgrowth of President Obama’s 2012 Presidential election campaign. Eliza Matache interned with the European Parliament, while Mary Mei has worked for both Lehman Brothers and the United Nations. And Katharine Wurzbach, a West Point-trained engineer, served five years in Afghanistan, earned a Bronze Star, and has managed teams as large as 80 people.

Kurt Ahlm, associate dean of student recruitment and admissions, announced the changes

Kurt Ahlm, associate dean of student recruitment and admissions, announced the changes

Doesn’t exactly fit the quant stereotype, does it? However, the incoming class fits quite well with Booth’s philosophy, which prizes curiosity, rigorous data analysis, and debate. “This group represents the collaborative, inquisitive culture of the Booth community,” writes Kurt Ahlm, associate dean of Booth’s full-time MBA admissions, in a statement to Poets&Quants. “They are a clear reflection of the bright minds and diverse perspectives that make up the Booth community. True to the entrepreneurial spirit that defines the Booth culture, students already are talking about business ideas and the enterprising opportunities that await them.”

To foster such discussions, Booth casts a wide net, hoping to bring as many voices to the table. “One of the distinctions of a Booth education is the chance to learn from the experiences and viewpoints of others,” Ahlm adds, “thus enabling students to come up with new ideas and realize breakthrough moments every day. While industries such as consulting and finance continue to be staples of the Booth brand, the interest of our students in areas like healthcare, marketing, energy, tech, and non-profit is at an all-time high.”

This interest isn’t the only marker at its high point. For the 13th consecutive year, average GMAT scores rose at Booth, reaching a 726 peak for the 585 member Class of 2017. To put that in perspective, the GMAT score was 687 for the incoming Class of 2004 (and 713 for the incoming Class of 2010). Even more, this class’ GMAT average is a point higher than Harvard’s incoming class (and two points above Kellogg). The class’ GPA average also held steady at 3.59.

Booth also recruited its highest percentage of women ever. At 42%, the percentage of women is up six percentage points over the Class of 2016 – a number higher than the Haas School of Business (considered the standard bearer for inclusiveness among full-time MBA programs). At the same time, the percentage of U.S. minority students in the incoming class climbed to 23% (up 1%), while the percentage of international students fell to 34% (down 2%). Overall, 55 countries are represented in Booth’s 2017 Class.

The class also arrives with five years of work experience on average. Academically, 32% earned undergraduate business degrees, followed by economics (23%), engineering (17%), and liberal arts (13%). Professionally, the highest percentage of incoming class (20%) came from a consulting background. Overall, Booth received 4,286 applications during the 2014-2015 application period.

Go to next page to access student profiles of this year’s incoming class.

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