The Top Business Schools: Who’s Hot? & Who’s Not!

Soojin Kwon, director of admissions at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business

Soojin Kwon, director of admissions at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business


Sometimes, big jumps are flukes and followed by dips the very next year. Michigan’s sizable increase, after all, came after a 7.7% drop in applications the previous year. But that’s not the case this time. “Given last year’s big increase in apps, we were happily surprised to see another increase this year,” says Soojin Kwon, director of admissions at the Ross School. “Through Round 2, we’re at our highest app volume since 2003, and we have Round 3 apps yet to come in.”

Kwon attributes the 31.3% jump to a “more systematic engagement of our alumni and current students in our recruiting efforts” as well as “a fully staffed admissions recruiting team, which enabled us to have more personalized touch points with candidates.” She also believes that “more engaging and targeted marketing content that addresses issues that are top of mind for prospective MBAs” made a difference as well. Two examples were her videos assessing candidates’ chances of getting into Ross as well as how to compare business schools.

And at a time when business schools have made it easier to apply by dropping essays and word limits on existing essay questions, Kwon says that “many applicants mentioned that having a team exercise made Ross appealing to them as it demonstrated our interest in getting to know them more fully, beyond their stats and essays and one-on-one interviews.”

At Yale SOM, W. Bruce DelMonico, assistant dean of admissions, gives credit to the school’s overall momentum under Dean Edward ‘Ted’ Snyder and his leadership team. They have put a focus on global business and a tighter integration with the university. They’ve also moved the school out of a series of old mansions and into a new, modern and state-of-the-art facility. “I don’t attribute the increase in applications to any one thing, but rather to the school’s strength and growth along many dimensions,” says DelMonico. “I also think our efforts to extend our global reach and deepen our connections with our home university are resonating with potential applicants.”

As at Ross, the jump in applications doesn’t appear to be a one-time event. Demonic says that applications are up again through the round two application deadline.


UCLA’s big drop occurred after a year in which applications to its MBA program soared 32.2%, proving that what goes up must eventually go down. In the 2013-2014 admissions cycle, Anderson saw apps jump to 4,129, from 3,124 a year earlier, pushing the acceptance rate to 17.8%. This past year’s decline pushed the acceptance rate for the Class of 2017 to 19.8%.

MIT Sloan followed a similar pattern, though it hadn’t experienced as big a rise as Anderson. Sloan had a 4.5% increase in applications in the year before the double-digit fall in 2014-2015. Still, the school’s acceptance rate at 14.6%–down from 13.1% in 2013–makes Sloan the fourth most selective MBA program in the U.S. after only Stanford, Harvard, and UC-Berkeley’s Haas School (see table on following page).

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.