Ross | Mr. Leading-Edge Family Business
GMAT 740, GPA 2.89
Kellogg | Mr. Hopeful Engineer
GMAT 720, GPA 7.95/10 (College follows relative grading; Avg. estimate around 7-7.3)
McCombs School of Business | Ms. Registered Nurse Entrepreneur
GMAT 630, GPA 3.59
Stanford GSB | Mr. Impactful Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Mr. Banker To CPG Leader
GMAT 760, GPA 7.36/10
Darden | Mr. Logistics Guy
GRE Not taken Yet, GPA 3.1
Chicago Booth | Mr. Desi Boy
GMAT 740, GPA 3.0
Kellogg | Mr. Stylist & Actor
GMAT 760 , GPA 9.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. MBB Advanced Analytics
GMAT 750, GPA 3.1
Columbia | Mr. Ambitious Chemical Salesman
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Tepper | Ms. Coding Tech Leader
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Wharton | Mr. Rates Trader
GMAT 750, GPA 7.6/10
Harvard | Mr. Irish Biotech Entrepreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Cricketer Turned Engineer
GMAT 770, GPA 7.15/10
Wharton | Mr. Planes And Laws
GRE 328, GPA 3.8
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Refrad
GMAT 700, GPA 3.94
Harvard | Mr. Supply Chain Photographer
GMAT 700, GPA 3.3
Chicago Booth | Mr. Space Launch
GMAT 710, GPA 3.0
Kellogg | Ms. Product Strategist
GMAT 700, GPA 7.3/10
Columbia | Mr. MBB Consultant
GRE 339, GPA 8.28
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Avocado Farmer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.08
Georgetown McDonough | Mr. International Development Consultant
Columbia | Mr. Wannabe Grad
GMAT 710, GPA 3.56
Kellogg | Ms. Indian Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.3
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
MIT Sloan | Mr. Captain Engineer
GMAT 700, GPA 2.96
Harvard | Ms. Big 4 M&A Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 2:1 (Upper second-class honours, UK)

Is The Full-Time MBA Dead?

Crisis illustration

Crisis illustration

With every bump in the economy there seems to be a segment of people who proclaim the demise of the MBA. When economic clouds gather, these prophets look skyward for any sign that the MBA is losing relevance in today’s fast-moving economy. Yet according to the 2015 Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Application Trends Survey Report, overall applications for full-time, two-year MBA programs are up compared to 10 years ago.

The picture isn’t consistently bright everywhere. GMAC’s findings reveal a more complex situation for specific regions in the U.S. compared with last year. The survey noted that full-time, two-year MBA applications have surged in the South, with 68% of schools citing an increase in applicant volume, and the West, 64% were up. The Northeast, however, reported a 52% of schools saw a decline, along with the Midwest, which had 47% citing a decline in applications.

But while the Northeast is currently experiencing a drop in applicants, the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester is experiencing the exact opposite.

Andrew Ainslie, Dean of the University of Rochester's Simon School

Andrew Ainslie, dean of the University of Rochester’s Simon School


At the Simon Business School, we have moved rapidly to institute some major changes in our approach to stay ahead of the game. We’re bucking the trend in the Northeast by growing our overall applications by double digits and increasing the number and quality of our student population.

We kicked off the 2015-2016 school year with new ideas designed to expand our full-time applicant pool and grow enrollment. After conducting some research on the relationship between the sticker price of the MBA program and business school rankings, we announced a price change for the full-time MBA program in August 2015. Pricing moved from a credit-hour basis of billing with an advertised sticker price of over $105,000 to a flat-rate price of $92,000 for the two-year program.

Our staff resources were deployed to fully focus our efforts on the fall 2016 MBA application pool, and we introduced changes in our sales outreach at key points in the recruiting cycle. The targets of our focus were full-time MBA candidates with more full-time work experience than past recruiting plans, with a professional and personal work profile that indicated we could maximize their future earning potential.

Our ground game complemented our strategy. Simon’s admissions team attended 72 events around the U.S. and the world to recruit top MBA and MS talent, and hosted 20 on-campus events for prospective and admitted MBA and MS students. Attendance at these events was up 52% compared with last year.


Additionally, we hosted a number of students for individual campus visits and experienced a 21% growth in visitors compared with last year at this time. Over the past year, we aggressively connected to candidates taking the GMAT or GRE who have a demographic and academic profile that our analysis indicated would be a fit for a Simon MBA or MS program. We were also aggressive with email outreach and mailings, something we believe helped us to attract more prospective students to Simon.

The strategy and tactics we employed have paid off. Despite declining domestic GMAT test-taking over a multi-year period, decreasing application volume, and flat domestic volume in the Northeast and Midwest, Simon has seen:

  • A 22% increase in total applications submitted for 2016;
  • A 39% increase in domestic applications;
  • An increase in the quality of applicants in GMAT, GPA, and average years of prior work experience;
  • A projected enrollment of 100 to 110 students for the class of 2018, with roughly 50% domestic students and an academic profile comparable to our class profile last year of 667 GMAT and 3.40 GPA.

In a time when fewer people are applying for other advanced degrees such as law, business schools seem to be an increasingly popular destination for career-minded professionals seeking a graduate education. As I have said before, the full-time MBA continues to be a sought-after credential because graduates continue to see a high return on investment. Not only do they see this in terms of their earning potential, they see it in their job satisfaction and personal fulfillment as well.

Andrew Ainslie is the dean of the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School.