Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Professional Boy Scout
GMAT 660, GPA 3.83
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Health Care Executive
GMAT 690, GPA 3.3
MIT Sloan | Mr. Low GPA Over Achiever
GMAT 700, GPA 2.5
Chicago Booth | Ms. Start-Up Entrepreneur
GRE 318 current; 324 intended, GPA 3.4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Wake Up & Grind
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Nonprofit Social Entrepreneur
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Ms. East Africa Specialist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.34
Darden | Mr. Fintech Nerd
GMAT 740, GPA 7.7/10
Harvard | Mr. Improve Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. Minority Champ
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
NYU Stern | Mr. Low Gmat
GMAT 690, GPA 73.45 % (No GPA in undergrad)
N U Singapore | Ms. Biomanager
GMAT 520, GPA 2.8
Stanford GSB | Mr. Indian Telecom ENG
GRE 340, GPA 3.56
Harvard | Mr. 1st Gen Brazilian LGBT
GMAT 720, GPA 3.2
USC Marshall | Mr. Ambitious
GRE 323, GPA 3.01
Harvard | Mr. Merchant Of Debt
GMAT 760, GPA 3.5 / 4.0 in Master 1 / 4.0 in Master 2
Tuck | Ms. Nigerian Footwear
GRE None, GPA 4.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Low GPA To Stanford
GMAT 770, GPA 2.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 360 Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Low GPA High GRE
GRE 325, GPA 3.2
Darden | Mr. Senior Energy Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 2.5
Chicago Booth | Mr. Finance Musician
GRE 330, GPA 3.6
NYU Stern | Mr. Hail Mary 740
GMAT 740, GPA 2.94
Harvard | Mr. London Artist
GMAT 730, GPA First Class Honours (4.0 equivalent)
SDA Bocconi | Mr. Pharma Manager
GMAT 650, GPA 3,2
Kellogg | Mr. Young PM
GMAT 710, GPA 9.64/10

Acceptance Rates At Top 50 MBA Programs

getting in

Getting into a Top Ten MBA program in the U.S. last year was slightly harder than it was only a year earlier. An analysis of acceptance rates at leading business schools showed that Top Ten schools admitted just 15.6% of their applicants last year, the lowest level in at least four years. A year earlier, Top Ten schools accepted 16.4% of their applicant pools, while in 2012, they admitted 17.0% (see table below).

So while many business school deans view the two-year, full-time MBA market as mature and applications to those programs have fallen in recent years, the top-tier of the market remains as competitive as ever. In fact, applications to the Top 25 schools also were up by 2.5% to 84,879, at least the third consecutive year of increases. A year earlier, applications to the Top 25 MBA programs in the U.S. totaled 82,794, while they were 81,153 in 2013. Those increases drove the overall acceptance rate of the schools in the Top 25 down to 20.3% last year, from 20.7% a year earlier.

While numbers of the just-completed year are not yet in, some schools have reported healthy increases in the 2015-2016 academic, making another improved year likely. MIT’s Sloan School of Management leads the pack with a 35% jump in applications, followed by a 12% rise at UC-Berkeley’s Haas School, a 6% increase at Yale’s School of Management, and a 5% rise at Michigan’s Ross School of Business.


The bottom line: The most highly selective MBA programs remain extremely difficult to get into. That’s especially frustrating news for self-selecting applicants because admission officials concede that as much as 80% of their applicants are fully qualified to attend and successfully complete an MBA program. At the top of the most selective list remains Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, which turned down a remarkable 93.9% of the candidates who applied for admission. Stanford was able to lower its acceptance rate a full percentage point to just 6.1%. Harvard Business School was next, rejecting 89.3%, while UC-Berkeley’s Haas School turned away 87.0% of those who applied.

There’s another way to look at selectivity, of course, tracking the numbers of people who received “deny” letters from schools. Call it the “frown index.” Harvard leads all schools in dishing out the most disappointment due to the size of its applicant pool which was 9,686-strong last year. HBS put frowns on the faces of 8,653 applicants, followed by Stanford (7,414), Wharton (5,288), Columbia (4,781), MIT Sloan (3,631, and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management (3,413).

Hefty increases in applications at a number of schools helped to make them far a bit more selective in the past year. Among the Top 25 U.S. programs, Michigan’s Ross School reduced its acceptance rate the most, shaving off 7.6 percentage points to get to 28.3%. The Kenan-Flagler Business School brought its acceptance levels down five full percentage points to 33.8%, while Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business knocked 4.1 percentage points off its acceptance rate which fell to 43.4%, still the highest for any Top 25 business school. Indiana’s Kelly School (down 3.9 points), Yale (3.0 points), Kellogg (2.6 points), and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business ( 2.o points) all became slightly more difficult to get an “admit” from.


The biggest improvements in acceptance rates, however, came in the second half of the Top 50 U.S. MBA programs.  SMU’s Cox School dropped its acceptance rate by a whopping 12.9 percentage points to 35.9% from 49.0% a year earlier thanks to an increase in applications and better yield on its admits. Wisconsin Business School brought its acceptances down by 9.3 percentage points to just 20% from 29.3% as a result of a 69% jump in applications.

Dan Bauer, founder and CEO of The MBA Exchange, a leading MBa admissions consulting firm, sees five key factors to explain why it’s still so challenging to gain admission to a top program. For one thing, he notes, the supply of classroom seats is not expanding. “The number of top B-schools and the number of available seats at those schools remain relatively flat,” says Bauer. “If anything, we see the interest in second- and third-tier schools declining, which makes the top-tier programs even more compelling.”

Despite ever-escalating tuition bills, the return on investment for an MBA degree remains excellent. “Post-MBA hiring and compensation continue to grow, which encourages more applicants who want to capitalize on this opportunity as their golden ticket.


The Top Ten Business Schools

Acceptance Rate15.6%16.4%16.2%17.0%

Source: P&Q analysis of publicly available data provided by schools to U.S. News

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.