Yale SOM To Change Out Essays

Yale University's School of Management

Yale University’s School of Management

Not long after “Ted” Snyder arrived as the new dean of Yale University’s School of Management in 2011, then university President Rick Levin made clear the university’s goal is to be among the top five business schools in the world.

“Our aspiration is to rank among the top five, where all of our other professional schools are,” claimed Levin in an interview conducted a year after Snyder’s arrival. “We want employers in all sectors — including Fortune 10 companies, McKinsey and the big banks — to say that they like to get their recruits from Harvard, Stanford, Wharton — and Yale. That’s the league SOM should be in.”

Levin, who left Yale three years ago to lead online education provider Coursera as CEO, would be pleased with the progress Snyder has made. This year Yale jumped five places to rank eighth in U.S. News & World Report’s annual MBA ranking, catapulting over six of the world’s most prominent business schools to gain its highest ranking ever. For the first time, the school also cracked the Top Ten in Poets&Quants’ latest composite rankings.


Yale School of Management admissions chief Bruce DelMonico

Yale School of Management admissions chief Bruce DelMonico

Rankings aside, Yale SOM already is in the top three of the most elite business schools when it comes to applicants per seat and in the top six schools for average GMAT scores for incoming classes. After a whopping 25% increase in MBA applications last year, the school is now reporting an additional 6% rise to 3,652 applications for the 325 seats in this fall’s new class. That will boost its applicant-per-seat ratio to 11.2, behind only Stanford and UC-Berkeley (see The Ultimate B-School Test: How Many Applicants Want That Class Seat). Though stats for the cohort that will enter this fall are not yet final, it’s possible that Yale will slightly improve on last year’s average GMAT score of 721.

“We’ve just started to pick our heads up but we’ve had another good year,” says Bruce DelMonico, assistant dean and director of SOM admissions. “We had a big increase last year and we are up another 6% this year. Building off that large jump, we felt good about it.

“The average GMAT of the pool inched up a little bit from last year and that is a good indicator. We also are seeing well distributed growth in the pool from both U.S. and international applicants. It’s grown pretty well across geographic regions. The top three industries continue to be consulting, finance and the social sector, but applicants with technology backgrounds have grown.”

SOM, which released its final-round decisions May 20, will hear from admits Tuesday (May 31) on whether they intend to enroll. “Right now, we are over our class size and will probably carry the waitlist into the summer as people drop off in the summer melt,” says DelMonico in an interview with Poets&Quants. Though summer melt — the applicants who decide not to come to a school after putting down a deposit because they ultimately choose another school or stay at work due to a professional opportunity or family issue — varies from year to year, Yale SOM typically loses about 10% of the admitted class.


DelMonico says that roughly half of the melt has already played out, leaving roughly 5% more likely dropouts over the summer on a class that is already oversubscribed. “Our class size is 325 this fall,” he adds. “We are at a standstill and will stay at 325 for this year and possibly might grow next year a little bit to 340, which would be the top end. But there is no mandate that that will happen at all.”

Though Yale SOM just set its application deadlines for the 2016-2017 admissions cycle, DelMonico has yet to release the school’s new essay questions.  “We are looking to freshen up the application,” he relates. “We have used the current essay questions — that explore the impact a candidate has had at work — for the last two years. We felt we were getting good responses, so we kept it this past year. But it is almost certain we will change it. We are looking at a question focused on commitment. We met with our OB faculty to talk about elements like the essay questions and how everything is going to hang together. We hope to update the questions in the next couple weeks and put the new application online in early July.”

DelMonico also expects to update the video questions required of SOM applications. “We have a better sense of how we can and can’t use the videos,” he says. “We are trying to build out more competency-based evaluations as opposed to just a general undifferentiated analysis of whether a person did a nice job or not. We hope to do a much more structured approach this year. If nothing else, the videos have been very valuable to evaluate English language ability.”