McCombs School of Business | Mr. Marine Executive Officer
GRE 322, GPA 3.28
Tuck | Mr. Liberal Arts Military
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Harvard | Ms. Developing Markets
GMAT 780, GPA 3.63
Harvard | Mr. Policy Player
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Tough Guy
GMAT 680, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. CPPIB Strategy
GRE 329 (Q169 V160), GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
Kellogg | Mr. Double Whammy
GMAT 730, GPA 7.1/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Infantry Officer
GRE 320, GPA 3.7
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Ernst & Young
GMAT 600 (hopeful estimate), GPA 3.86
Kellogg | Mr. Engineer Volunteer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Kellogg | Mr. Operations Analyst
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.3
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indian Dreamer
GRE 331, GPA 8.5/10
Kellogg | Mr. Innovator
GRE 300, GPA 3.75
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Yale | Ms. Biotech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.29
Stanford GSB | Ms. Global Empowerment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.66
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Apparel Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Armenian Geneticist
GRE 331, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Ross | Mr. Travelpreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 2.68

Average GMAT Scores At The Leading MBA Programs

Average GMAT scores at top schools continue to climb

Just when you thought GMAT scores couldn’t possibly go any higher, guess what? At many of the the leading business schools, average scores for the latest incoming classes have set new records—yet again.

A Poets&Quants analysis of scores for the MBA cohorts that began their first year in the fall of last year shows that 16 of the Top 25 U.S. schools achieved year-over-year increases in their GMAT averages. Only five schools—NYU Stern, Duke Fuqua, UNC Keenan-Flagler, Carnegie Mellon Tepper and Wharton—registered declines, with three programs falling by two or fewer points.

Not only did the increases outpace the declines by more than a three-to-one margin, some of the rises were surprisingly high for a single year. Rice University’s Jones School of Business registered a 14-point increase in its average GMAT score to 690. MIT’s Sloan School of Management upped its average score by eight points to 724, and the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business gained a half dozen points to post an average GMAT score for its latest class of 712.


Even among schools whose full-time MBA programs are ranked between 26 and 50, 15 of the 25 programs reported increases in average GMATs. Only seven schools had declines. The biggest year-over-year gainers? Penn State University’s Smeal College of Business saw a whopping 23-point jump in its average to 659. The University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business reported a 13-point rise to 692. The business schools at the University of Illinois and Arizona State University both saw double-digit gains as well, rising 11 points to 665 and 10 points to 682, respectively.

Some 16 U.S. business schools and two European schools–INSEAD and London Business School–now boast average GMAT scores of 700 or up, one more than last year. Again, no school could beat the average at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business which set a new record of 737, up four points on its year-earlier 733. Stanford’s new record means that the school’s average is now in the 97th percentile of all GMAT test takers. In other words, only 3% of test takers are able to achieve a higher score on the GMAT.

“The continuing rise in average GMAT scores at top schools is not a surprise,” says Dan Bauer, founder and chairman of The MBA Exchange, a leading MBA admissions consulting firm. “Don’t be shocked to see Stanford’s average crack 740 within the next year or so.”

Every applicant, of course, need not score the average to gain an admit from Stanford. The school’s Class of 2018 had GMAT scores that ranged from a low of 590 to a high of 790. But admission consultants will often encourage candidates to an MBA program to attempt to hit the class average to have some confidence that an applicant has a good chance of getting into a school. If an applicant is an over-represented part of the applicant pool, such as IT engineers from India, consultants will urge them to score well above the average.


Rising GMATs often suggest that a school is improving the quality of its incoming students. More than any other admissions data point, the GMAT is often considered a barometer of student quality. Rising GMATs can also be an indication of a school’s aggressiveness in offering more scholarship money to compete with rivals and represent a sign that a school is eager to move up in rankings that weigh GMAT scores in the methodology used to compute those lists.

A 700 GMAT score puts a test taker in the 89th percentile of those who have taken the exam. That means only 11% of those who sit for the GMAT have a score of 700 or above. The average on the test—where the highest possible score is an 800—is about 547.

More telling than year-over-year increases, however, are the five-year trends on average GMAT scores. Among the top 25 U.S. MBA programs, the biggest gains have been racked up by the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Foster hiked its average by 21 points since 2012 to 688 last year. Kellogg raised its average GMAT by 20 points over the last five years to 728—two points higher than the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.


MIT Sloan, thanks to its significant eight-point rise last year, has boosted its average class GMAT by 14 points since 2012 to a record 724. Wharton, despite reporting a two-point slippage in the last year, has increased its average by a dozen points to 730 in the past five years. That jump allowed Wharton to post slightly higher average GMAT scores than Harvard Business School, which saw a four-point increase last year to 729.

Top 50 With Biggest Five-Year Increases In GMAT Scores


SchoolFive-Year ChangeAverage 2016 GMATAverage 2012 GMAT
Michigan State (Broad)+29670641
Southern Methodist (Cox)+23662639
Washington (Foster)+23691668
Northwestern (Kellogg)+20728708
Rice (Jones)+17690673
Penn State (Smeal)+16659643
MIT (Sloan)+14724710
Pennsylvania (Wharton)+12730718
Iowa (Tippie)+12677665
UCLA (Anderson)+11715704
Arizona State (Carey)+10682672
Georgia (Terry)+10647637

Source: Poets&Quants analysis from available GMAT data

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.