Columbia | Mr. Neptune
GMAT 750, GPA 3.65
Darden | Ms. Education Management
GRE 331, GPA 9.284/10
Columbia | Mr. Confused Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 3.2
Yale | Mr. Lawyer Turned Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Ms. 2+2 Trader
GMAT 770, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr Big 4 To IB
GRE 317, GPA 4.04/5.00
Stanford GSB | Ms. Engineer In Finance – Deferred MBA
GRE 332, GPA 3.94
Chicago Booth | Mr. Corporate Development
GMAT 740, GPA 3.2
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Second Chance In The US
GMAT 760, GPA 2.3
Harvard | Ms. Big 4 M&A Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 2:1 (Upper second-class honours, UK)
Harvard | Mr. Harvard 2+2, Chances?
GMAT 740, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Billion Dollar Startup
GRE 309, GPA 6.75/10
Harvard | Mr. Comeback Kid
GMAT 770, GPA 2.8
Wharton | Ms. Negotiator
GMAT 720, GPA 7.9/10
Duke Fuqua | Mr. IB Back Office To Front Office/Consulting
GMAT 640, GPA 2.8
Harvard | Mr. Marine Pilot
GMAT 750, GPA 3.98
MIT Sloan | Ms. Physician
GRE 307, GPA 3.3
Wharton | Ms. Globetrotting Trader
GMAT 720, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Ms. 2+2 ENG Entrepreneur
GRE 322, GPA 3.82
Harvard | Mr. 2+2 Filipino Social Entrepreneur
GMAT 700, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Mr. Deferred Admit Searcher
GMAT 740, GPA 3.9
Wharton | Ms. General Motors
GRE 330, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Sustainability Consulting
GMAT 710 (Q49/V39), GPA 3.39
Stanford GSB | Mr. Global Innovator
GMAT 720, GPA 3.99
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Real Estate IB
GMAT 710, GPA 3.68
Kellogg | Mr. Virtual Reality Entrepreneur
GRE 326, GPA 3.87
Chicago Booth | Mr. Mexican Central Banker
GMAT 730, GPA 95.8/100 (1st in class)

Yield Rates: Schools That Land The MBA Students They Really Want


Business school rankings largely measure prestige. GMATs and GPAs suggest the caliber of classmates. Employment rates and starting salaries reflect the market appeal of graduates. Student and alumni surveys suggest strength of network and degree of delivery. Taken together, they paint a portrait of where applicants may encounter the best minds, resources and opportunities.

As with any big decision, applicants are looking to mitigate their risks and maximize their returns. That’s one reason why the elite MBA programs net the most candidates. Take the “Big Three” – Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton. Combined they attracted 24,816 full-time applications for the Class of 2017. Compare that to Columbia, Northwestern (Kellogg), Chicago (Booth), MIT (Sloan), NYU (Stern), and Dartmouth (Tuck) which collectively accounted for 24,785 submissions. How big is the perception gap between some schools? Just look at Stanford and Michigan (Ross). Each enrolled 407 students, but Ross received 4,692 fewer applications.

And perception is paramount here. The top schools don’t draw the most applications just because they offer the largest class sizes. MBA programs are brands, often defined by intangibles. And students want to be associated with what they represent. The volume of applications may reveal brand appeal. And the percentage of rejected applications may signal brand stature. To understand which school brands are the strongest, you should think conversion rate: How many candidates actually accept school offers?


This is called yield. And it’s the market’s stamp of approval on schools. Here’s how this people’s choice rubric works. Say School A sends out 500 acceptance letters and enrolls 100 students. The school’s yield rate would be 20% — meaning 400 admits either chose another program or decided not to go to business school at all. If the numbers were reversed and 400 candidates accepted their offer, the yield would be 80%. In short, yield acts like a sales funnel, depicting each MBA program’s ability to capitalize on opportunities.

Even more, yield is a gauge of a school’s desirability – namely that it is a first choice and not a fallback. A higher yield suggests a stronger deeper commitment (i.e. “stickiness”) from applicants to a particular school. No doubt, adcoms assume a certain percentage of rejections when they make offers. In the end, yield can be a sign of a school’s ability to “walk the talk”– particularly after prospects visit campus and interact with school personnel and students. It can also reveal salesmanship – admissions teams who thrive at targeting the right prospects and sealing the deal with them.


Typically, highly-ranked schools excel in yield. For one, their brands, deeply rooted in tradition and lore, convey exclusivity and excellence. They possess a long track record of producing insiders, influencers, and innovators. Over the years, they’ve mastered the fundamentals and established a cultural identity. Such a foundation creates a virtuous cycle where talent replenishes itself year-after-year.

This cycle is reinforced by deep financial backing.  In terms of endowment, Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Kellogg, Sloan, Columbia, and Booth rank among the wealthiest business schools, with a collective $9 billion dollars between them. When it comes to scholarship funding, Harvard, Wharton, Booth, and Stanford top the list as well. Bottom line: This financing enables top schools to draw faculty, go after the highest ceiling candidates, and invest in the amenities and expertise needed to stay on par with competing programs.

And let’s not forget geography. East coast stalwarts, for example, can pull candidates from a 50-million person megalopolis stretching from Boston to Wilmington. And California and Great Lakes schools enjoy a similar population advantage. In other words, these schools can afford to be more choosey, since they have the talent pool to support them (with international outreach only deepening their advantage). More important, their locales place them in greater proximity to thought leaders, employers, and alumni to further fuel their momentum.