Tuck | Mr. Liberal Arts Military
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Stanford GSB | Mr. Social Entrepreneur
GRE 328, GPA 3.0
MIT Sloan | Mr. AI & Robotics
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Wharton | Mr. Industry Switch
GMAT 760, GPA 3.95
Stanford GSB | Mr. Irish Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Marine Executive Officer
GRE 322, GPA 3.28
Harvard | Ms. Developing Markets
GMAT 780, GPA 3.63
Harvard | Mr. Policy Player
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Tough Guy
GMAT 680, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. CPPIB Strategy
GRE 329 (Q169 V160), GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
Kellogg | Mr. Double Whammy
GMAT 730, GPA 7.1/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Infantry Officer
GRE 320, GPA 3.7
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Ernst & Young
GMAT 600 (hopeful estimate), GPA 3.86
Kellogg | Mr. Engineer Volunteer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Kellogg | Mr. Operations Analyst
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.3
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indian Dreamer
GRE 331, GPA 8.5/10
Kellogg | Mr. Innovator
GRE 300, GPA 3.75
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Yale | Ms. Biotech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.29
Stanford GSB | Ms. Global Empowerment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.66
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63

MIT Can’t Defy Widespread MBA App Decline

MIT Sloan enrolled 416 students this year, up from 409 last year. The school saw a modest decline in applications — 6.5%, and 10.3% in the last two cycles. File photo

The ominous drumbeat continues. Another top-10 school has provided Poets&Quants with its 2021 class profile numbers — and once again the data shows a leading school grappling with the reality that has hit all but one of the elite business schools in the United States: full-time MBA programs are experiencing their worst decline in years.

MIT’s Sloan School of Management is the latest school to report a drop in MBA application volume this cycle. The Sloan School received 5,200 apps in 2018-2019, down 6.5% from the previous year’s 5,560 and down 10.3% from 2016-2017, when the school received 5,798. MIT’s acceptance rate last fall was unchanged from the previous year, about 11.5%, but it most likely went up with the enrollment of a larger class out of a smaller pool of applicants.

Of all the top schools, Chicago Booth is the only one to evade the app slump the year. Though the Booth School has not yet officially released its class profile, data provided to P&Q shows that it increased its apps by 144 this fall, from 4,289 to 4,433, a 3.4% increase. Yet Chicago is still down 5.2% in the last three cycles. Among peer schools, Columbia Business School is the closest to unscathed after Chicago, having lost just 2.5% of app volume from last year — but CBS is actually in better shape than Chicago and all top-10 schools over the last two cycles, having lost only 2.2% in that span.

Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business also saw a reversal of fortune this year, and a positive application result, but is down more than 23% in the last three cycles.

SUBSTANTIAL DECLINES FURHTER DOWN THE RANKINGS

Things are much worse further down the ranking. Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business dropped 31.5% of its app volume in one year, a 341-application decline from 1,082 in 2017-2018 to just 741 this cycle. The Kelley School has lost 40.6% of app volume in two years. In that span, since the app slump began, UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School has lost 38.5% of its apps, and the University of Texas-Austin McCombs School of Business has lost 24.9%. Six more schools have lost more than 20% (see table below).

Why the slump? Lots of reasons. H1-B visa rules are viewed as onerous by many international students (a fact spurring the embrace and growth of STEM MBA programs). The current political atmosphere in the U.S. as it relates to immigration isn’t helping. And the economy is good, a fact that has traditionally depressed interest in returning to school to pursue a long-term degree like an MBA.

However, some B-school leaders say this isn’t a normal time, and the usual responses to crises won’t be as effective. “I believe the reasons for recent shifts in application volume go far beyond the natural rhythms of the economic cycles,” Luke Anthony Peña, executive director for admissions and financial aid at Dartmouth Tuck, told Poets&Quants in August. His school lost 22.5% of its apps in one year, worst of any top-10 school. “I think they have to do with how and when and where and why today’s graduate leaders are choosing to level up their skills and to build broader networks.”