MBA Programs That Enroll Students They Really Want

mba yield rates

Grant McQueen, BYU Marriott MBA Director

Traditionally, Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management ranks among the top five for yield. The 2015-2016 cycle was no different, with the program converting 79.1% of students who were tendered an acceptance. Unlike a Harvard or even a Davis, Marriott can’t draw from a large population for candidates in its Utah locale. However, Marriott brings an advantage that few schools can hope to touch. On average, LDS members pay just $12,310 per year. At $24,620, the price tag is almost a steal for non-LDS members as well. As a result, Marriott MBAs graduate with low debt. The Class of 2016, for example, averaged just $38,355 in debt, with just 53% of the student body even carrying debt.

These aren’t the reasons why Marriott is able to come away with the best picks in recruiting says Grant McQueen, MBA Director for the Marriott School. Instead, Marriott’s success centers around the school’s mission and its partnership with its students. “There are two reasons we have such a high conversion rate,” he writes in a statement to Poets&Quants. “First and foremost, our applicants have a strong affinity for the values and ethics of our program and for the sponsoring institution. They want to be part of a student body and organization that shares their values, educates the whole person, and believes that ethics can have a place in the business world.  Second, we involve our current students very early on in the new-student recruiting process.  Our current MBA students participate heavily at info sessions, met with applicants when they come for admission interviews, and call every applicant admitted into the program to answer questions.  Their firsthand experience gives them credibility.  Our current students are our best ambassadors.”


In the coming years, Arizona State’s W. P. Carey School of Business could emerge as a rival to Harvard and Stanford. This is thanks to offering free MBA tuition. In 2015, the program produced an enviable 61.9% yield. Last year, that percentage jumped to 71.7% — a number sure to climb as word gets out. Already, the school’s acceptance rate has plunged to 14.3%, making it just as selective as Columbia Business School. Not surprisingly, Columbia’s yield is nearly identical to Arizona State at 71.3%. That said, Columbia’s number is buttressed by its early decision round, which requires students who accept a spot to pay a non-refundable deposit to hold It.

As a rule, the top programs generally turn out the highest yield rates. Aside from Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia, yield is also high at Wharton (65.2%), MIT Sloan (61.1%), and Chicago Booth (60.2%). Overall, most MBA programs fall near a 50% conversion rate. In fact, just one Top 10 program — Dartmouth Tuck — finished below this threshold in 2015-2016.

A word of caution: Equal conversion rates don’t necessarily translate with equally competitive applicants between schools. Such measures are tied more to inputs like average GMATs and GPAs, not to mention more intangible points like undergraduate schools, employers, and career performance and growth. However, yields can, to an extent, reflect which programs are treated more as safety schools, as rejected applicants adjust their sights.

Even more, yield rates can tip applicants off to which programs’ stock are up or down among their peers. The University of Wisconsin is a case in point. For years, Wisconsin has ranked among the Top five programs for yield. That changed with the 2015-2016 cycle, with Wisconsin’s conversion plunging from 61.9% to 51.6%. Penn State Smeal endured a similar fall, going from 61.5% to 51.4% over the same period. In contrast, aside from Davis, the University of Florida’s Hough Graduate School of Business enjoyed the biggest rise, with yield vaulting from 60.8% to 73.5%. Among top programs, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business made the biggest strides, adding five points to 51.6%. However, Duke University’s Fuqua School suffered the biggest downturn. The school’s yield slipped to 53.9%…despite maintaining an early decision round similar to Columbia.

To see application and yield numbers for your favorite schools, go to the next pages.


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