When Wayne State University in Detroit announced recently that it had seen an 85% jump in enrollment at the Mike Illitch School of Business in just two years, lots of people took notice. When the cause of the dramatic increase was explained to be, in part, a waiver for qualified students of the Graduate Management Admission Test as a requirement for admission, eyebrows went up even further across the B-school landscape.
As of late last month, more than 1,100 students had enrolled in the Illitch School for 2016-2017; in 2014 the school had only about 600. Kiantee Rupert-Jones, the school’s director, attributes the rapid increase to a number of factors, including accelerated course completion options, scholarships with local companies, and targeted marketing campaigns. The school’s 2015 naming gift by the owner of the city’s hockey and baseball teams, she points out, as well as a prospective new building in District Detroit near a planned new stadium, certainly have raised the B-school’s profile as well, at least locally.
But as students pour in to the Illitch School in near-record numbers, the school’s no-GMAT avenue is being seen as the primary spark behind the turnaround. “We attribute the increase in enrollment to a few things and the GMAT waiver option is one,” Rupert-Jones tells Poets&Quants. “My staff and I can attest to the increase in enrollment as we have been swamped with admissions and advising since I became director in 2014.”
THOUSANDS OF SCHOOLS, THOUSANDS OF TEST TAKERS
The GMAT is big business. While the numbers of test takers has gone down in recent years, thousands take the test monthly (at $250 each time), with many opting to take it more than once as they seek the higher scores that are key to getting into more exclusive schools.
There is no comprehensive list of non-GMAT MBA programs. Neither the Graduate Management Admissions Council, which administers the GMAT, nor the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs track how many business schools forego the GMAT, whether for full-time, online, executive, or blended MBA programs. GMAC does, however, track schools and programs with active GMAT codes: In the Americas, 1,527 schools and 4,720 programs accept the GMAT; globally, 2,298 schools and 6,719 programs do.
Programs/Schools Accepting the GMAT
Clearly the GMAT is not on its last legs, by any means. But more and more schools that accept the test are allowing students — especially executive and online students — to find a way around having to take it. John Kraft, dean of the University of Florida Warrington College of Business, says the test makes sense for those applying to a traditional full-time MBA program, but “as more schools drop the full-time MBA and switch to weekend or part-time programs, this may change. Also many of the foreign MBA programs do not require the GMAT or any standardized test for applicants to their full-time programs,” Kraft points out.
Many undergraduates, meanwhile, take the Graduate Record Examination instead of the GMAT because the GRE provides them with more flexibility after graduation, Kraft says. “In general, the only permanent market for the GMAT is the full-time MBA, and that is a shrinking market. The specialized master’s and weekend programs are the growth areas and the GRE provides better flexibility,” he says. “Also many weekend and executive MBA, like many foreign programs, have dropped the requirement for standardized tests.”
At Florida, Kraft adds, “Our preference for special education master’s would be the GRE, and for weekend programs we would prefer no standardized test.”