Meet The Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2017

Members of the Class of 2017 at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business

Members of the Class of 2017 at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business

When applicants picture top business schools, they drifted toward hallowed name privates like Stanford, Harvard, Wharton, Kellogg, or Booth. Sure, their sports scenes may be tepid, but the endowments are always flush with cash. But the big public programs carry certain advantages. They attract billions in research dollars – and can pull resources from every corner of the school. And that’s one advantage enjoyed by the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business is the largest public business school.

Over 850 full-time MBA students strong, Big Blue ranks just a shade below Haas and Darden among the top public MBA programs according to U.S. News. That said, Ross may be the most well-rounded public program, ranking in U.S. News’ top ten in nine of ten business specialties – topping out as the third-best school for both management and operations and fourth-best in international business. And it doesn’t stop there. The school is highly thought of for its entrepreneurial chops and has emerged as a powerhouse in the social impact space as well. 


You could argue that Ross is the “MIT of the Midwest.” Both schools slant towards the interdisciplinary and collaborative, each possessing a strong STEM undercurrent. With their larger universities housing top engineering programs, it’s no surprise that their engineering and business schools have established several partnerships (such as a joint business incubator at Michigan).

However, their greatest similarity involves the learning-by-doing model that underpins each school’s curricula. At Sloan, students can enroll in electives called Action Learning Labs, where students team up with companies and entrepreneurs to develop solutions. Ross’ answer is the Multidisciplinary Action Project (MAP). Unlike MIT’s labs, Ross’ signature MAP course is required. And it is the only course that students take during the final quarter of their first year, Think of MAP as the all-encompassing dress rehearsal for the all-important summer internship. Here, students put together everything they learned from the first year core, working in four-to-six member teams to complete a seven-week consulting project. In the course, students work out of hundreds of locales that may include California, Thailand, Poland, or Panama, working on projects ranging from launching new product launches to reducing operational bottlenecks and costs.

For Ross’ Class of 2017, the MAP project embodied the experiential learning opportunities that maximize their strengths and enhance their value. “The chance to work on real-life projects with a team was exactly what I was looking for,” states Erin Yasukawa, who studied chemical engineering before joining Teach For America. “It was the full immersion experience that I wanted to dive into and learning through hands-on work is when I’m at my best.”

“I wanted hands-on learning and Ross’s action-based curriculum would ensure that I’m not just sitting in a class listening to lectures,” adds Courtney Black, who was most recently an account strategist at Google. “The Multidisciplinary Action Project that all students must do is a great example of this. The variety of locations, functions, and companies that Ross sends its students ensures that I’m not limited in my options of future employers.”

Soojin Kwon

Soojin Kwon


And employers have definitely noticed, with 2014 Ross graduates earning $140,497 in salary and bonus (higher starting earnings than Midwest staples like Kellogg and Booth). Based on the caliber of applicants, the Class of 2017 may just reap the same bounty. “The team and I are excited to welcome the 400+ students in the Ross Class of 2017,” writes Soojin Kwon, the school’s director of admissions, in a statement to Poets&Quants. “This was the most competitive applicant pool we’ve had in more than a decade – both in terms of volume and quality of applications. At 708, this class has the highest GMAT average for an incoming Ross class. About 35% come from outside the U.S.”

This was a banner recruiting year for Ross indeed, which netted 407 students for the Class of 2017. Applications spiked by 31% to 3,207 apps – reflecting Ross’ growing stature and appeal. Aside from the percentage of women remaining the same at 32%, most of the school’s markers pointed upward. The percentage of international students increased by 1% for the incoming class, as did the school’s American minority population (to 24%). Kwon also points out that the class includes students from 340 different organizations, with half coming from the consulting, finance and marketing industries.

Academically, the 2017 class is well-proportioned in both poets and quants. With a collective 3.4 undergraduate GPA, the top majors include engineering (25%), business (24%), and humanities and social sciences (22%) – roughly 70% of the class. Economics (15%), computer science (6%), and math and physical science (5%) majors are also well-represented. Overall, GMATs ranged from 660 to 760 in the mid-80%.

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

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.