Stanford GSB Edges Closer To Gender Parity

Stanford Graduate School of Business at dusk

Stanford Graduate School of Business at dusk

Stanford’s Graduate School of Business today (Sept. 16) announced that it has enrolled a record number of women in its latest class of MBA students, edging ever closer to gender parity. According to the profile of the just-entered Class of 2021, 47% of the incoming class is female, up six full percentage points from 41% only a year earlier.

The increase in women matches Wharton’s incoming class of MBAs this year but is above every other prominent MBA program in the U.S., including Michigan’s Ross School of Business (45%), Harvard Business School and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business (both at 43%), Yale School of Management (42%), the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business (40%), Columbia Business School (38%), UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business (38%), and NYU Stern (36%).

Stanford was able to achieve its new record as applications to its MBA program declined for the second year in a row. The school said applications in the 2018-2019 admissions season fell 5.8% to 7,342 from 7,797 a year earlier. Over the past two years, Stanford experienced a 10.2% drop in applications from the record peak of 8,173 in the 2016-2017 admissions cycle.


Kirsten Moss, assistant dean of admissions & financial aid at Stanford GSB

The application fall is on the low side of many top schools this year. Yale SOM reported a decline of 15.6%, while Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business saw a 14.6% drop. The 5.8% shortfall at Stanford compares to a 6.7% drop at Harvard and a 5.4% decline at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Stanford did not yet reveal whether its acceptance rate of 6% ticked up or whether yield–the percentage of admitted students who enroll–changed as a result of the drop in apps.

But the bigger news was the school’s successful effort in drawing more women into its MBA program. “This year the percentage of women in Stanford GSB’s MBA class reached a historic high, almost achieving gender parity at 47%,” said Kirsten Moss, assistant dean of MBA admissions and financial aid at Stanford GSB. “We are excited to see a 6 percent increase from last year, perhaps reflecting our expanded efforts to encourage female applicants to pursue an MBA degree.”

Moss attributed the jump to an increasing number of events for women applicants over the last few years. “This summer, for example, GSB students shared their MBA experience in small-group chats with hundreds of women around the globe from Auburn, Alabama to Windhoek, Namibia,” she added. “As diversity, equity and inclusion is a key priority for the GSB, we will continue our charge to attract a uniquely diverse student body.”


After a five-point decline in the school’s average GMAT score last year, GMATs ticked up again by a couple of points to 734, allowing Stanford to reclaim its status as having the highest reported average GMAT score for any prestige MBA program in the world. Wharton is right behind it with a 732, while Harvard’s median score this year remained 732.

In releasing its class profile for the Class of 2021, Stanford also reported that GMATs for the 417 incoming students range from a low of 600 to 790, exactly the same range as its year-earlier class. The average undergraduate grade point average also fell slightly to 3.70 from 3.72. For the third straight year, Stanford also disclosed GRE scores for its entering class. The average verbal GRE score this year is again 165, with a range of 149 to 170 (compared to 156 to 170 last year). The average quant score on the GRE is also 165 again, with a range of 157-170 (versus 152 to 170 last year). Some 19% of this year’s incoming class gained admission with a GRE, up from 18% the previous year.

The school noted that its new MBA students come from very diverse backgrounds, including 66 countries, 160 undergraduate institutions, and 297 organizations. Internationals comprise 43% of the students, a metric that includes permanent U.S. residents and dual citizens, compared to 42% last year and 41% two years ago. U.S. minorities total 27% of the class, same as last year. The entering students averaged 4.6 years of work experience, with a range of zero to 14 years.

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