Feeder Colleges & Companies To Stanford’s MBA Program

stanford gsb commencement 2017

Students ready to receive their diplomas at the Stanford Graduate School of Business Commencement. Photo by Nathan Allen

Seven years ago, Poets&Quants tracked down both the feeder colleges and employers to the elite MBA programs in the U.S. The resulting series, culled from Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, was an immediate hit. Most schools closely guard this information because they want MBA admissions not to appear so elitist.

Now, a new analysis of the feeder companies to Stanford’s Graduate School of Business has popped up based on data from LinkedIn profiles. Just as our series tore the veil off of MBA admissions at elite business schools, this new study reveals some fascinating trends on who gets accepted into the most selective prestige MBA program in the world.

Matt Symonds, a co-founder of Fortuna Admissions, led a team that dug through the educational and professional backgrounds of 353 of the 419 admits who started their GSB MBAs last year. It’s a sample size of more than 84% of the entire class so you can rest assured that it represents the most accurate assessment of who Stanford admits into its MBA program.

Here’s what he discovered:

The Ivy League matters.

Close to 14% of last year’s incoming students did their undergrad at Harvard or Stanford (closely split with Harvard at 25 and Stanford at 23), along with 19 from Yale, 15 from UPenn and 13 from Columbia. Factor in Brown, Dartmouth, Princeton, and Cornell and a hefty 130 of the 353 candidates we identified hailed from the Ivy League or Stanford. For a school that receives over 18 applications for every classroom seat, these nine schools account for more than 1 in 3 (36.8%) admits.

Yet surprises exist. 

MIT, Symonds discovered, barely made the top 25 feeder schools. There was just a trio of students (the same number as Georgia Tech), well behind Duke (seven), UNC (six), NYU (six) and Amherst (five). “Brown’s 11 undergrads among the GSB class of 2020 beats Princeton’s contribution at just nine,” wrote Symonds in a post on Forbes. “It also intrigued us to see such notable representation from Notre Dame, which supplied half a dozen grads to outnumber Cornell’s five. On the west coast, UC Berkeley grads counted for six places, while USC outshines rival UCLA (five to four).”

A rarity but it’s something: More than a dozen state schools made the GSB’s cut.

“Not everyone attended an elite private college, but the numbers remain modest,” found Symonds. “Once we had accounted for UC Berkeley, UNC, UCLA, UT Austin, Georgia Tech, University of Virginia and U Michigan we could find only a dozen students who attended state schools, from Colorado and Cleveland State to several other UC schools (Davis, Irvine, and San Diego), as well as big public research institutions like the University of Washington and University of Minnesota. You can even graduate from the respectively obscure Belmont University in Tennessee (its US News rank is 166) if you go on to become a serial entrepreneur pioneering new territory in data science.” But good luck with that strategy.

What you studied seems to matter.

Stanford’s  MBA Class of 2020 has an average undergraduate GPA of 3.72, the highest among the M7 business schools. But Stanford clearly seems interested in what you studied and how that demonstrates your ability to develop new perspectives. Exhibit A: The six admits in the Class of 2020 from Georgetown University. From International Public Health and Government to International Affairs and Africa Regional Studies at the school’s prestigious Walsh School of Foreign Service, these Georgetown grads were able to demonstrate their willingness to learn new things and share what they learned. “Whether you have an informed perspective on a U.S.-China trade war or the impact of technology on global health issues,” writes Symonds, “any successful Stanford MBA applicant has thoughtfully shown why such awareness matter to them in the school’s What Matters Most To You & Why essay.

McKinsey is golden, whether you like it or not.

Applicants who have McKinsey & Co. on their resumes (29) outrank their peers at BCG (23) and Bain (22). In fact, no less than 8% of the school’s Class of 2020 had been employed by McKinsey, while BCG is on the resumes of 6.5% of the class, and Bain at 6%. There are also 13 candidates from Goldman Sachs and 10 who list Morgan Stanley. The big surprise in this employer mix was Deloitte, one of the ‘Big Four’ which sent a dozen students to last year’s class, not including two more from Monitor Deloitte. Symonds discovered that Goldman dominates the financial feeder companies with 13 former full-time employees in the GSB’s 2020 class, followed by Morgan Stanley (10), PwC (seven) and JP Morgan (five). Ernest & Young and KPMG each supplied one candidate.

What about tech? After all, Stanford is in the epicenter of Silicon Valley.

Google is ahead in tech with five students in the class, while Facebook and Amazon each have four. Three students had worked for YouTube, while only one came from Apple. One big surprise: Microsoft sent the same number of students – two – as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In fact, seven enrolled candidates worked in philanthropy.

The full GSB Class of 2020 report is available on the Fortuna Admissions website where you can review all 142 undergraduate institutions, an array of degrees and majors, graduate school programs, and the details of hundreds of employers, job titles, and combinations of pre-MBA professional experience.