Meet The Minnesota Carlson MBA Class of 2017

Members of the Class of 2017 at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management

Members of the Class of 2017 at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management

How do I get my foot in the door?”

That question dogs job hunters everywhere.  Behind the curtain, gatekeepers sift through resumes, giving each the requisite six seconds. And most are quickly dismissed with three words: “Needs more experience.” You see, hires are equated with investments for a reason. A good hire can open new worlds. And a bad hire? At best, their holes are quickly exposed. At worst, their hidden flaws can bring out the worst in a culture.

“How can I get experience when no one will take a risk on me?”


For some, the answer has been to enroll in business school. Here, you can practice without distraction, experiment without committing, and fail without consequence. Whether you are seeking an audition or a laboratory, few schools do experiential learning better than the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. Here, students complete a 15-month Enterprise Experience, where they partner with area companies to complete projects in their chosen field. On top of that, first-years head overseas for a two-week, interactive Global Discovery program as well. For Elizabeth Clifton, who grew up in California and studied at Notre Dame, these in-depth, hands-on opportunities were the crowning touch on a well-rounded and truly underrated MBA program.

“Carlson had the academic rigor, global focus, small class size, and personalization that I was looking for in an MBA program,” she explains. “As part of the University of Minnesota, Carlson offers the resources of a large school with the personalization of a small community. What really differentiated the program for me, however, was the unique enterprise experience that allows you to go beyond case studies and gain actual work experience consulting for Fortune 500 companies in the Twin Cities.”

Clifton is just one of the 86 students who comprise Carlson’s 2017 full-time MBA class. Boasting 4.5 years of work experience, the class includes an army intelligence analyst, a pharmaceutical lab manager, a senior consultant, a fund-raiser, and an engineer. They have already started companies or climbed the ladder at recognizable names like General Mills and Deloitte. Two months into the program, the class has impressed the Carlson community as a whole.


Philip Miller

Philip Miller

“Our incoming class has already impressed the staff, faculty, and second years with their interest in community and the prominent roles they are playing in Carlson School and University-wide leadership positions, says Phil Miller, assistant dean of MBA programs. “There has been an immediate impact from having this bright and engaged group with us. We’re all excited to see their energy and abilities grow over the coming years.”

By the numbers, Carlson received 594 applications for its 2017 Class, admitting 232 for an acceptance rate of 39%. The class brings an average GMAT of 680 (median 695) to the table, with scores falling between 530-760 in total and 620-730 in the mid-80% range. Grade-wise, the class’ collective undergraduate GPA averaged 3.41, with the median being 3.44. Overall, GPAs ranged from 2.41-4.0, with averages clustered from 3.01-3.81 in the mid-80% range. At 22% of the class, students holding engineering degrees make up the largest portion of the class. They are closely followed by business administration (21%), and science and mathematics (17.5%), with social sciences (14%), economics (14%), and humanities (8%) rounding out the rest of the class.

Demographically, 29% of the 2017 Class is comprised of women. International students account for 15% of the class, with American minorities representing another 19%.  The class, which is 29 years old on average and possesses 0-16 years of work experience, comes from a wide range of industries. The largest bloc, at 15%, includes students who worked in health care and social assistance. In addition, the class includes a healthy dose of students with experience in public administration, government and the military (10.5%), manufacturing (9.5%), finance and insurance (9.5%), retail trade (9.5%), and the wholesale trade (5%).

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