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.

  • Eagan

    Thanks for your thoughts. I agree that Carlson offers a good alternative in the Midwest region. It looks that Carlson’s peers (B-Schools at public unis) implement growth strategy successfully and attract more out of state & international applicants. Carlson is still a regional MBA program, the best B-School in MN. But the best talent will apply for other B-Schools with more opportunities. Carlson’s yield rate is very low as applicants with multiple admits choose to enrol at other schools. It looks that some other peers (UT Austin, A & M, UNC, GA Tech) have benefited from BW’s new methodology and rose in the new ranking. It is almost unfair to keep Carlson’s faculty for this small MBA class.

  • JohnAByrne

    I attribute the decline to the changes in methodology. Carlson wants to grow its MBA program and will likely do do over the next few years. This is an under appreciated gem in the business school world for sure.

  • Eagan

    Thanks for covering Carlson’s class- good job. Though it is a smaller regional program, Carlson has its market niche. Unfortunately, one doesn’t read much about Carlson in B-School articles. do you have an explanation for Carlson’s slump in the recent BusinessWeek ranking? A few years ago, Carlson was ranked in the top30, recently it is only ranked 44th. Is it Carlson related or a result of revamped ranking metrics? The class size is shrinking from previously 95 to 86. The international intake is only from India & China. Can Carlson still maintain a critical mass at this small size and attract national recruiters? It looks that Carlson undergraduate degrees is more high profile whereas its MBA is losing traction.

  • UrMoron

    I don’t know.

  • Top 300 MBA or Bust

    How soon are the Capella and Southern New Hampshire MBA class of 2017 articles coming out?

    I hear the largest feeder companies this year were dollar general and applebees.

  • JohnAByrne

    We’re expecting the HBS report next week. I would suspect that Wharton and Stanford would soon follow that one. You’ll start to see these reports come out this month and next.


    hello John, any news on the emploment reports this year? what is the reason for the delay?

  • JohnAByrne

    Both schools are featured on the homepage, one in the rotating features box and one in our must read section. The reason is simple: The Meet The Class of 2017 is a very large series and we need to publish them in different places so that the series does not dominate one place. Our Must Read section actually has a big advantage over the features well. The stories don’t disappear because they are not rotating. As a result, more readers will notice those stories because they aren’t one of five rotating in and out. It’s as simple as that. There is no bias or preference here at all.

  • HBS

    In all seriousness, why is Minnesota featured on the main page while Notre Dame is not? I am starting to get annoyed by seeing Carlson school of business everywhere at P&Q. Apparently they have a smart administration that knows how to pay off the unbiased pq staff.