How Yale SOM Crashed The M7 Party

Yale SOM’s relatively new ultra-modern home has played a role in the boom


The increasing stature of the school is reflected in what the win-loss rate against its peers, a relatively invisible measure that is closely tracked by the school. “Our win-to-lose ratios are virtually improving with every other peer institution,” says Anjani Jain, senior associate dean for MBA programs. “We are not there yet with Harvard and Stanford. It’s hard for a student to turn down those offers. But our win-to-lose rations are improving against Wharton, Booth, Kellogg, MIT, and Columbia. For those schools, the ratio is still slightly in their favor, although the trend is in our direction. And with respect to all other schools, the ratio is in our favor. We are now in the consideration set for the most competitive applicants.”

SOM administrators attribute the school’s momentum to a confluence of factors, from a more clearly defined mission to be the most global U.S. business school and increasing the business school’s outreach to the wider university. Much of the school’s increase in reputational captial can be traced to its innovative global initiatives, including the creation of a network of 29 farflung schools that bring together students and faculty in virtual courses, weeklong excursions and multi-school case studies. But Snyder’s attention to the basics have had as much an influence over the school’s significant improvement in rankings, assisted by a new world-class facility and the school’s adherence to training leaders for both the public and private sectors. That latter goal, established when the school accepted its first class of 46 students in 1976, to set it apart from rivals, seems to be more appealing now than ever with millennials eager to embrace a higher purpose for business.

Yale SOM Dean Edward Snyder

“Since Ted’s arrival, there has been a clear articulation of the school’s mission and strategy,” believes Jain, who with David Bach from IE Business School in Spain, has helped to lead the changes. “The world is also coming around to the mission more. Our aspiration to create leaders who have elevated lines of sight and have a sense of purpose tends to resonate more with aspiring MBA students and the generation now entering business schools. They identify with this larger purpose of business as being a good for society. It has helped the school become more prominent.”


But there are other, more subtle, distinctions that favor the school, from an exceptionally low student-to-faculty ratio to the unusually high level of university support for the average MBA student. At slightly less than eight students to every faculty member, SOM’s student-to-faculty ratio is among the lowest of any rival schools. In fact, it’s roughly half or even a third of what it is at peer institutions.

A rarely disclosed number but one that provides much insight into the investments being made in an MBA program is the percentage of a school’s operating budget covered by tuition and fees. At SOM, less than 35% of the school’s budget is accounted for by tuition, while at many peer schools it is often more than half. The remaining 65% of the school’s operating costs are shouldered by SOM’s endowment and annual gift giving. Translation: SOM students are getting more bang for their buck than MBA candidates at many other schools.

“The school has devoted its faculty resources to student education in a way that is truly remarkable,” believes Jain. “That makes the student experience unique.” It’s one reason why SOM’s redesigned core curriculum in 2008 led to integrated perspectives across the business disciplines. “An integrated core curriculum is hard to replicate in other business schools because it requires more faculty resources per student,” adds Jain.


This plays out in other ways throughout the two-year experience. One small example is that SOM picks up the tab–roughly $6,000 per student–to send MBA students on a required global immersion. At Wharton, the global immersion program is an additional undisclosed cost to students. The same is true at Stanford where the cost of a global study trip is estimated to cost up to an extra $4,000.

And here’s another crucial sign of momentum: alumni support. Though the school’s alumni network is much smaller than rivals, the loyalty of that network is noteworthy. In 2015-2016, for only the second time in the school’s 40-year history, the alumni giving rate topped 50%, with some 51.9% of SOM alumni giving back to the school through its Alumni Fund, up from 51.5% the previous year. That’s significantly better than any peer school with one exception: Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, with its 70% participation rate. SOM’s numbers are more than double the typical rates of peer schools. Alumni giving at Columbia, MIT Sloan and Chicago Booth, for example, are routinely below 20%. It helped that SOM smartly used students in a Mastering Influence and Persuasion course at the phonathon for the Yale SOM Alumni Fund.

SOM is also attracting superior faculty and providing open doors to them because of the school’s small size and location in New Haven, CT. “In all disciplines of management, our faculty has grown their impact on the world of practice,” believes Jain. “Their visibility on the world of practice has consistently become better.” One of most recent prized hires is Tobias J. Moskowitz, an acclaimed scholar previously at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, It also never hurts to have a Nobel Prize winner on the faculty. Robert Shiller, who has a joint appointment with SOM’s finance faculty and Yale’s economics department, won the Nobel in 2013.


Source: Yale School of Management