Meet Rice’s MBA Class of 2017

Members of the Class of 2017 at Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business

Members of the Class of 2017 at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business

Think of Texas and prairie skies, blooming sages, and wailing coyotes may come to mind. But forget the 10-gallon hats and cowboy boots, rattlesnakes and tumbleweed, Friday football and rodeos. Instead, think energy, high finance, biomedicine, aeronautics, and international trade. And you’ll find these activities centered in Houston, the home of Rice University’s Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business.

In fact, 26 Fortune 500 firms are headquartered in the Houston metro according to the Greater Houston Partnership, the third-highest concentration in the United States. Such firms include juggernauts like Phillips, Sysco, Haliburton, and Waste Management. The city also boasts the world’s largest medical center (Texas Medical Center) and the second largest American port (Port of Houston). Not surprisingly, with such a wealth of resources, the city sports a bubbling entrepreneurial scene.


Look no further than the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship, ranked by UBI Index in 2014 as the top university-managed incubator. Founded in 2000, the Rice Alliance, according to the school, has supported over 1,500 startups that have raised over $2.9 billion dollars in funding. Boasting a network of over 400 partners and 300 investors, the Alliance’s biggest success to date has been Audiotube, which was purchased for $120 million dollars by Adobe in 2011. What’s more, the Rice Alliance sponsors the annual Rice Business Plan Competition, the largest event of its kind, awarding over $3 million dollars to seed student startups. Most recently, the school launched OwlSpark, designed specifically to help Rice students and alumni get their business ideas off the ground.

Indeed, the Rice Alliance is big and bold, an extension of Texas’ frontier spirit. However, Jones’ full-time MBA program is distinguished by something quite different: An intimate and tight-knit culture. One of the smallest programs with roughly 225 students, it also ranks among the happiest. “I have never been around a group that had so many glowing remarks about their school and experiences,” says J.R. Gibbens, a former U.S. Air Force pilot who is among the 116 member Class of 2017. “While I was at Rice, it truly felt like a family and a place where I could perform at my best.”

One reason for the exuberant student body: Low debt. Among the 2014 Class, just 48% graduated with any debt. And part of that stems from the school’s generosity. According to the school’s 2014 annual report, 94% of full-time MBA students received grants, with the average being $33,320 (or roughly 59% of tuition). And Rice MBAs are capitalizing, with the 2014 Class garnering $117,074 in starting pay after graduation, higher than small private programs like Washington University, Notre Dame, Georgetown, USC, and Vanderbilt (not to mention Texas A&M). And a Jones education pays off in other ways too, with Rice MBAs ranking third in career satisfaction in a 2014 Forbes survey.


Jeremy Grace

Jeremy Grace

That’s a great setup for the Class of 2017, a unique bunch that includes a Special Forces Commander, a dancer who trained with the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago, an Exxon Mobil corporate attorney, and a psychologist transitioning to management consulting. And such a mix of personalities and backgrounds excites Jeremy Grace, who heads the school’s full-time MBA program. “The Jones Graduate School of Business Class of 2017 Full-Time MBA candidates embody the meaning of the phrase esprit de corps,” he tells Poets&Quants. “This diverse and committed group of individuals is already dedicated to leaving their mark on our program as reflected in their full engagement with both the curricular and co-curricular enterprise of the business school. We have noted a truly dedicated and supportive class that understands the rareness of being presented with so many opportunities at the Jones School…or as I like to call it, The Opportunity Factory.”

This year, 775 prospective students applied for such opportunities at Jones, up from 763 applicants in 2013-2014. Eventually, Jones made offers to 210 applicants (up from the 200 last year) for a 27% acceptance rate. To put that number in perspective, programs like Darden and Fuqua maintain similarly exclusive  acceptance rates.

Academically, the 2017 Class collectively averaged a 676 GMAT, the same as the previous class. The class’ median GMAT came in at 680, ranging from 640-710 in the 50% percentile. Nonetheless, the class’ average GPA slipped from 3.4 to 3.3 (though the median GPA remained 3.4 with averages spread out from 3.11 to 3.62 in the 50% range). The incoming class also hails from 76 different undergraduate programs, with the highest percentage (41%) holding degrees in business and economics. STEM (36%) and liberal arts (23%) majors filled out the remainder of the class.

Like many programs, Jones increased its percentage of women, which climbed from 32% to 35% with the incoming class. However, its international student population tumbled from 34% to 23%, with the school drawing students from 16 different countries. Military veterans and minority students comprised 13% and 9% of the class respectively. Professionally, students arrived at Jones with 5.2 years of work experience on average, with nearly a quarter (22%) coming from the energy and petroleum sector. Another 13% worked in finance and accounting, followed by government (9%), consulting (7%), education (5%), health care (5%), construction (4%), and real estate (3%).

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

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