Meet Vanderbilt’s Owen MBA Class of 2017

Members of the Class of 2017 at Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate School of Management

Members of the Class of 2017 at Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management

Nashville is nicknamed “Music City” for a reason. Known for everything from the Grand Ole Opry to Gibson Guitars, Nashville has attracted the top recording artists, studio musicians, and songwriters for generations. Music Row studios have nurtured acts from Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash to Garth Brooks and Taylor Swift. Back in the day, United Record Pressing even produced the vinyl discs that gave voice to Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Whether you prefer country, rock, gospel, or jazz, Nashville has left an indelible mark on music – if not Americana itself.


Increasingly, music is just one slice of Nashville’s economy (and identity). Think of Nashville today as the Atlanta of yesteryear – a magnet for ambitious young professionals and corporate dollars. Within the Nashville metro area, you’ll find the headquarters for Fortune 500 headliners, such as Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), Dollar General, Vanguard Health Systems, and Community Health Systems (CHS). And that doesn’t include the large presence of well-heeled firms like Dell, UBS, and Bridgestone.

Such opportunities may explain why Nashville is among the fast-growing large metros, with 82 people moving to the area every day according to a 2014 CNN study. Not to mention, this Sunbelt Sensation ranked 4th – behind just Silicon Valley, San Francisco, and Raleigh – in Forbes’ 2015 ranking of the best cities for creating the most white collar jobs.

Before Nashville was a music and economic powerhouse, it was known as the “Athens of the South” for its myriad educational institutions. Atop this list today is Vanderbilt University, just two miles from the Nashville’s sprawling downtown. Ranked among the top 20 research and academic universities in the United States, Vanderbilt has emerged as an epicenter in the fields of education and medicine. Not to mention, the school boasts a premier full-time MBA program in the Owen Graduate School of Management.


Christie St-John

Christie St-John

And this year’s class may be one for the history books, exclaims Christie St-John, the school’s director of MBA admissions. “The MBA Class of 2017 is the personification of Vanderbilt’s vision of what a world-class business program should be,” she tells Poets&Quants. “The class is diverse in its global reach, professional experience, education and ethnicity. Each of the 175 students in the class of 2017 has a fascinating personal story to tell. The profiles…are just a preview of the wide range of personalities and interests that you’ll find in this class. From a former Ivy League quarterback to a former NFL linebacker, from an MD/MBA (we have six in this class!) to an infectious disease specialist, and from a professional poker player to a former Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, this class is one of the most interesting to ever fill the halls at Owen.”

However, St-John adds, the spirit of this class is what really sets it apart. “The best part about our amazing students is their competitive – but not cutthroat – nature, which elevates the entire class. They lead by example, not by ego. They are curious and open-minded. They are ready to explore and step outside of their comfort zone. We are so proud to welcome this class into the Owen family. I can’t wait to see how these students will succeed in the business world, and how they will shape it.”

Statistically, Owen drew 879 applications for the Class of 2017, admitting 362 students for a 41.1% acceptance rate — nearly identical to the numbers posted by the 2016 Class. The class brings a mean GMAT of 690 to the table, with scores stretching from 650 to 720 in the middle 80% range. As undergraduates, the class averaged a 3.4 GPA collectively (with GPAs ranging from 3.1 to 3.7 at the mid-80% threshold). More impressively, the class has studied at over 200 different undergraduate institutions, with the top feeder schools to the class including Princeton, Emory, and the United States Military Academy. In addition, 10% of the class already holds an advanced degree (or is working towards one).

Demographically, 26% of the class is comprised of women. The class hails from 27 countries, including Bahrain, Ghana, Jamaica, Peru, South Korea, Spain, and the United Kingdom. International students and American minorities account for 20% and 16.4% of the class respectively. Par for the course, the class’ average work experience is 5.3 years, with students’ average age being 28 (though ages range from 23-39). The school also recruits strongly among the military, with veterans making up 11% of the class.

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.