At Wharton, Apps Dip But GMATs Climb

The University of Pennsylvania Wharton School – Ethan Baron photo

Despite a 6.7% drop in applications to its MBA program, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School is reporting yet another increase in the average GMAT score for its incoming Class of 2020.

Wharton’s new class sports an average GMAT of 732, up two points from 730 a year earlier. The new GMAT average matches the school’s record set for the Class of 2017. Wharton’s average GMAT for the incoming students in the Class of 2014 was just 718, 14 points lower. The school received 6,245 applications, down 447 candidates, from last year’s 6,692 total.

Most of the highly ranked business schools, including Harvard Business School, are expected to report declines in application volume in the 5% to 6% range this year, largely due to a fall in international applicants and a strong economy that tends to keep prospective students in their jobs. Harvard, Stanford, Chicago Booth and many other elite schools have yet to report their class profiles.

The decline in applications at Wharton occurred in a year in which the school made major gains in several rankings, coming in first for the very first time in Poets&Quants‘ composite ranking (see Wharton Dislodges Harvard To Top 2017 P&Q Ranking).


Wharton’s slightly higher GMAT average equals the 732 already announced at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management which bested every major school last year with the exception of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business with its 737 average. Wharton said GMAT scores ranged from a low of 500—30 points lower than a year earlier—to a high of 790.

The average GPA remained the same at 3.6, with 45% of the MBAs having undergraduate degrees in the humanities, 29% in STEM backgrounds, and 26% in business. The undergraduate mix changed a bit, with more of the Class of 2020 having degrees in the humanities, up by four percentage points from 41% last year. Students with undergraduate degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fell by three percentage points from last year’s record of 32%.

The school also disclosed average GRE scores for the Class of 2020. The mean GRE verbal score was 163, while the mean quant score was 162. The average writing score on the GRE this year was 4.6. Those numbers match last year’s metrics with one exception: the average writing score slipped from 4.7.


Students in the Class of 2020 boast an average five years of work experience each, though the range of that experience is wide, from zero to 15 years.

Otherwise, there are few surprises in the composition of Wharton’s Class of 2020. In a year in which international applications have declined, Wharton actually increased the percentage of internationals in the class by a single percent to 33% from 32% last year. Those students hail from 80 different countries. The school was less successful on the female student front, with a tiny decine of a percent.

While USC Marshall reached gender parity and Kellogg enrolled a record 46% women in their incoming MBA classes this year, Wharton reported that 43% of the Class of 2020 will be women (see Kellogg Enrolls Record Number Of Women). Last year, Wharton and Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business had enrolled the largest classes of women among the highly ranked MBA programs, both at 44%.

Underrepresented minorities account for 33% of Wharton’s incoming students, exactly the same as last year.

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