A 12.3% Rise In MBA Apps At Yale SOM

Yale School of Management

Talk about playing a hot hand.

Yale University’s School of Management saw a 12.3% increase in applications to its MBA program this past year to a new record of slightly more than 4,100 seeking one of its 348 seats. At a time when applications to two-year MBA programs have declined at many schools, apps at Yale have shot up a whopping 60.5% in the past five years.

Those increases, more importantly, have allow the school to substantially increase its average GMAT and GRE scores, grade point averages, and the caliber of undergraduate institutions on the resumes of its incoming classes. This year’s incoming class, for example, boasts the highest average GMAT and GPA ever recorded at Yale, 727, up two points over last year, and 3.67, vs. 3.63, respectively.

Yale’s median GMAT score of 730 is now equal to Harvard Business School. The average grade point average for SOM’s Class of 2019 now slightly exceeds Harvard’s 3.67 and is second only to Stanford’s 3.73. And with this latest application jump, Yale has more candidates per available seat in the classroom than even Harvard Business School, 11.8 vs. HBS’ 11.0. The latest application surge, moreover, exceeds that of any other school that has released those numbers. At Wharton and Kellogg this year, applications were essentially flat. At Harvard, they were up by 6%.


Anjani Jain, acting dean of Yale SOM

“The increased volume has been accompanied by a commensurate increase in the quality and diversity of the applicant pool and therefore of matriculating students,” says Anjani Jain, acting dean of Yale SOM. “By our estimation, our MBA class now ranks among the top three globally on measures of academic quality.”

Jain, who was named acting dean when Edward Snyder took on a one-year sabbatical, told Poets&Quants that the school has made new gains in alumni fundraising and the recruitment of new faculty from such schools as Wharton and the University of Chicago. SOM’s annual fundraising campaign attracted an alumni participation rate of 53%, up again from 51.9% last year.  That is a rate of participation that is about twice the average of SOM’s peer schools and also almost twice the average of other graduate professional schools at Yale.  Only one other business school, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business, boasts a higher participation rate.

SOM says nine new professors, representing roughly 10% of the school’s entire tenure-track faculty, who are joining our faculty this year.  Their areas of scholarship include finance, organizational behavior, economics, and entrepreneurship.  Among them are senior faculty who have previously held appointments at the University of Chicago Booth School, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


The gains come at a school that had long been an also-ran among the top-tier players in business education. But ever since Snyder’s arrival in July of 2011, SOM has focused on a strategy of becoming the most global of all the U.S. schools, breaking down boundaries between the business school and the greater university, and paying greater attention to B-school basics from admissions quality to alumni relations. That strategy has led to considerable gains in the rankings and in application volume (see How Yale SOM Crashed The M7 Party).

The increase in applications allowed SOM to shave two percentage points off its acceptance rate which fell to 17% this year, down from 19% a year earlier. That’s better than Wharton’s 19.6%, Kellogg’s 20.1%, or Chicago Booth’s 23.6% (based on last year’s numbers). Yale SOM reported a yield rate of 49%, a point better than a year earlier. Yield reflects the percentage of admitted candidates who ultimately enroll at the school.

In releasing the new class profile for its latest crop of incoming students,  SOM also revealed median GRE scores. The median verbal score for the class is 166, with a middle 80% range of 157 to 170, while the median quant score is 164, with a mid-80% range of 160 to 169. Yale typically enrolled the highest percentage of MBA students with GRE scores than any of its peer schools.


By the numbers, 45% of the Class of 2019 holds passports from a country other than the United States, with 48 different countries represented overall. That percentage includes permanent residents of the U.S. and U.S. dual-citizens and is roughly the same as last year’s entering class with 46% from outside the U.S. Women make up 43% of the class, exactly the same as a year earlier, and U.S. students of color 27%; 12% are underrepresented U.S. students of color, a sliver down from 13% last year.

There were only slight changes in the undergraduate and work backgrounds of the new class. Some 20% worked in financial services, up a tick from 19% last year, 19% hail from non-profit jobs, up from 16%; 16% from consulting, the same as last year, 12% from the tech industry, and 7% from healthcare.

Like Wharton, which saw a significant increase in STEM undergrads this year, SOM also upped the ante on students with STEM backgrounds. The school said 21% of the new class has engineering, information technology or computer science degrees, up a full four percentage points from 17% last year, while math and physical science majors take up 11% of the seats, same as a year earlier. Business majors make up 23% of the Class of 2019, up from 22%, economics majors represent 15% of the incoming students, down from 17%. Students with undergrad degrees in the humanities and social science disciplines represent the largest single segment of the class, as usual, at 30% of the class, down three percentage points.


In its published class profile, Yale SOM also made available detail that is seldom revealed by business schools. The school identified the top five U.S. and international undergraduate feeders to its MBA program. Yale said the most U.S. students came from Harvard, Yale, the University of Southern California, Cornell University, and Princeton University. Outside the U.S., the top five feeder colleges were Thammasat University in Bangkok, the University of Delhi, the University of Toronto, FGV San Paulo in Brazil, and the University of Tokyo.

Yale also said that the class of 348 students includes 15 Silver Scholars and 12 former U.S. military members. Some 18% of the MBA students come to SOM already having a graduate degree on their resumes. Roughly 13% are pursuing joint degrees with their MBAs, including nine JDs and five MDs.

Bruce DelMonico, assistant dean for admissions, is playing up the diversity of the new class which showed up on campus on Aug. 14th for orientation. “They speak roughly 50 different languages, including Yoruba, Polish, Arabic, Russian, Mandarin, Hindi, Portuguese, and Swedish (not to mention classical and medieval Latin, Homeric and Attic Greek, old Norse, and American Sign Language),” wrote DelMonico in a blog post. “Seventy percent of the class speaks at least two languages; 27% speaks at least three.”

  • avivalasvegas

    Except perhaps in most B school ratings, I’m afraid. It would appear that Blue has indeed Gone!

  • iFeng
  • Aussie1

    I don’t think this is necessarily true since, as mentioned, SOM has the highest applicant to seat ratio. Supposedly, that would allow them to take rounded candidates.

  • avivalasvegas

    I’m VERY excited to see that Yale SOM is doing so well. While I have never had any affiliation with the school and have already received my MBA from an M7 MBA program, I predicted nearly 7 years ago that Yale SOM was the only real sure shot addition to the Top 10 business schools, by replacing Ross and by offering a lot more than the Fuqua and Darden schools ever could.

    While I doubt it will replace Columbia to round out the bottom of the M7, I do believe it is a worthy alternative to Tuck. To get here so quickly deserve massive praise!

  • Fajor

    This focus on hard stats is probably a medium-term tactic to widen their applicant pool, and it that seems their numbers have been jumping every year. People see the high GMAT & GPA and assume Yale is in the same league as Harvard and Stanford.

  • Split

    I agree, the GMAT/GPA arms race has got to stop (no sour grapes here, I’m long past those years). The top b-schools are really losing out on talent by chasing that fleece. I understand the need to show a strong level of academic performance, but that can be done at levels well below this nonsense.
    It’s bad enough that college kids who want to aspire to be lawyers ruin their undergraduate education by taking gut courses or avoiding challenging their weaknesses, all in order to keep their GPA’s near 4.0 for the elite schools.
    I always thought the b-schools had a more mature attitude about things like that. I guess I was wrong.
    Maybe the answer is for the top 15 b-schools (and yes, USNWR and media sources like Poets and Quants) to stop reporting specific GPA and GMAT scores, and live with some directional ranges. That would eliminate the silly granularity and invidiousness that goes into the rankings and admission considerations.

  • iFeng

    Makes sense. Thank you for the comments!

  • Ze

    Wow, i never thought I’d see the day when Yale has a better GMAT and GPA than Harvard. HBS is HUUUUGELY Overrated.

  • elite

    i recruit at all the top school.s SOM is playing a stupid game… just boosting rankings with high gmat and gpa and ZERO focus on leadership. which explains why in the startup funding ranking yale is 15 or 16
    I will stick with the M7.. we need creative and entrepreneurial leaders.. not GMAT robots

  • BSG

    All top business schools are guilty of this. Even schools who traditionally don’t care about stats, such as Haas and Sloan, are upping their game in this arms race.

    I also counter your friend’s anecdote with one from a friend who is a class of ’18 from Yale SOM. He’s enjoying every minute of his time there and loves his classmates. Does that mean Yale has the best community? Nope. It’s dangerous to paint schools in the same brush. CBS and Wharton are both known for their cut throat culture, yet some of the nicest people I know are from these schools.

    I can see that some people are frustrated to see Yale climb so quickly in rankings – but it’s all part of the game. Since Yale SOM is a relatively nascent business school, their goal is to quickly improve the quality and quantity in applicants to supercharge their growth. Moreover, they’re poaching high quality faculties from other schools. Their tactics are working and I see nothing wrong with that.

  • iFeng

    You are right that the whole package of resume, essay, and reference letter cannot necessarily reflect the true personality. What I wanted to say is that Yale seems to focus much much more on these factors including GMAT and GPA to raise its rankings. I think that there is no perfect candidate. If Yale sets the bar that high and would prefer candidates proofing more convincing academic records, the class would be fixed with students lack of other strengths, e.g. strong personalties. One of my friends went to Yale’s admission event for class 2019. He finally decided not to go to Yale, because he felt that the most participants including the class 2018 are more academic driven but less fun.

    If you pay attention to all the press report about Yale SOM, they are all talking about how high the GMAT and GPA score is. I can understand that Yale wants to catch up M7 with its ambitious. But personally, I think that Yale SOM will neglect the true asset of an MBA classroom: the people. People should be the key to leading a unique MBA experience, rather the pure numbers.

  • gaofeng.arthur@gmail.com

    I agree with you.

  • Yale_App

    Yale is only looking to up its rank. Period. They have rejected some really talented folks for GMAT and diversity..

  • BSG

    How do you gauge people’s personality based on their resume, a ~500 word application, and some reference letters from their obvious champions?

    Yeah, Yale’s definitely looking to boost their stats, but I’m not sure if GMAT/GPA inversely correlates with personality and capability.

  • gaofeng.arthur@gmail.com

    Personally, I think Yale focuses too much on academic background, e.g. GMAT and GPA, which relates directly to rankings, which means that personality might be neglected. I am not sure if that is the ultimate goal of an MBA education.