U. S. Schools Favor Middle East Applicants

Inside Wharton School operations and innovation management professor Christian Terwiesch' class - Ethan Baron photo

Inside Wharton School operations and innovation management professor Christian Terwiesch’ class – Ethan Baron photo

Most elite American business schools brag about how internationally diverse they are. Although American business schools try to make sure they have students from all over the world, the reality is that there are winners and losers. Applicants from some countries have an easier time than others. In this analysis, I calculated the MBA acceptance rate by country and region for American MBA programs, using publicly available data at the GMAT Club.

MBA Acceptance Rate by Region


MBA Acceptance Rate by Region International Business School

Since there is limited data for many of the countries, first I grouped the countries to look at MBA acceptance rates at a high level. Not all regions apply to the schools in the same proportion. In fact, European applicants tend to apply to the higher-ranked schools with lower acceptance rates. On the other hand, applicants from India are more likely to apply to lower- ranked schools with higher acceptance rates. I calculated the expected acceptance rate for each region based on the school application distribution.

The regions that have the highest acceptance rates are the Middle East, Europe and Latin America. If you limit Europe to the large western countries such as England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, then the acceptance rate for Europe jumps to 31%. The USA has a slightly higher acceptance rate than average. On the other hand, Asia, Australia and India are all at a significant disadvantage when applying to business school in the United States.

GMAT and GPA by Region MBANext I looked to see if the difference in acceptance rates could be explained by a GMAT score. Grade point average isn’t a good indicator because different regions have different average GPAs based on how much grade inflation there is in the area. Most regions are clustered around the average GMAT of 722 with two exceptions. Latin America has an average GMAT 16 points lower than average and still has an acceptance rate 6% higher than expected. Africa has an average GMAT that is 34 points lower than average but it only hurts them a small amount. Asian applicants have the highest average GMAT, however Asian MBA acceptance rate is 6% lower than average.