Wharton Enrolls A 570 GMAT This Year

The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School

Would you ever apply to the Wharton School with a 560 GMAT score and hope to get into an MBA program where the average score is more than 170 points higher?

Maybe not. But for the first time in four years, Wharton accepted and enrolled a candidate with a GMAT score under 600. The 560—a score that is at the 46th percentile of test takers—is surely an anomaly but a notable one for a school widely perceived to be obsessed with ever higher standardized test scores.

Wharton’s average class GMAT score has risen 14 points from 718 in 2012 to 732 last year, the highest average GMAT for a business school with the exception of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. But this year, for the first time in at least five, the Wharton average skid slightly backwards, losing one point to 731, a score that represents the 96th percentile of all test takers (See below table).

Wharton’s average GMAT score–an important metric in U.S. News & World Report‘s annual MBA rankings–fell in a year in which Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management reported a record 728 GMAT, up four points from last year. Most schools have yet to make public their class profiles for the latest incoming MBA students.


For the Class of 2018, the overall GMAT range went from 570 to 780, a much wider range than the 620 to 790 last year. Indeed, the last time Wharton enrolled a student with a sub-600 GMAT score was the incoming class in 2012 when an MBA candidate sported a 560. The median GMAT score at Wharton was again 730, equal to the median recently reported by Harvard Business School. The 80% range of GMATs was 700 to 790, same as last year.

The numbers were disclosed today (Aug. 17) with the publication of Wharton’s Class of 2018 profile. Wharton said applications to its full-time MBA program were up slightly by just 89 applicants, or 1.4%, to 6,679 from 6,590 a year earlier. The school is enrolling a somewhat smaller class this year—by 10 seats—of 851 students, down from 861 last year.

Most of the year-over-year changes are small and subtle. The percentage of women in the new class rose a percentage point to 44% from 43% last year. The record for entering MBA women at Wharton was reached in 2011 when the school enrolled a class composed of 45% women. The size of the international cohort at Wharton remained the same—32%—from 71 different countries, down from 73 a year earlier. Students of color rose two percentage points to 32% this year, up from 30% last year.


The average amount of work experience each student will bring to the class is exactly the same as last year: Five years, though the range got a bit tighter from zero to 13 years vs. last year’s zero to 16. Some 36% of the new class has a background in finance, the most popular work background of the class and two points higher than last year at 34%. That is substantially more than the number of students with financial backgrounds in this year’s Harvard Business School class where it is 26%. Some 13% of the new Wharton students worked for private equity or venture capital firms, up three points from 10% last year. Another 11% racked up experience in investment banking—same as last year—with 5% in investment management and 7% coming from other financial fields.

About 23% of the new class brings a consulting background to Wharton, higher than HBS’ 15% or the 19% at Northwestern’s Kellogg School. Wharton said 9% of its new class worked for a technology or e-commerce firm, lower than the 14% at Kellogg or the 15% at Harvard. The consulting percentage remained static, but tech students were up three points from only 6% last year. Wharton also enrolled 12% of the class, up one percentage point from large year, from the non-profit sector, government and education. Students with experience in healthcare total 4% of the class, and media and entertainment is at 3%, a tick below last year’s 4% total. Real estate, energy, retail, and consumer products goods each claimed 2% of this year’s class.

When it came to undergraduate backgrounds, the humanities gained ground. Some 46% of the class has an undergraduate degree in the humanities, up a solid four percentage points from 42% a year earlier. That gain came at the expense of business undergraduates who fell to 26% from 29%. Those with STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) backgrounds also rose three points to 28% from 25%.

(See following page for how this new Wharton class compares on other metrics)

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