Put another one in the loss column.
UCLA’s Anderson School of Management lost 17.7% of its full-time MBA application volume this year, falling from a school-record 3,423 in 2017-2018 to 2,817 for this fall’s intake. As business schools in the United States reel from a protracted slump in applications to full-time programs, the Anderson School becomes the second-worst impacted in the top 15, after Dartmouth Tuck. Last year UCLA and Dartmouth were among the very few schools who had dodged the downturn.
Since the 2016-2017 cycle, when it reported 3,314 applications to its MBA program, UCLA Anderson has dropped 15% of its overall application volume. It’s unknown exactly how that has affected the school’s acceptance rate, which is not among the data provided in the release of the new Class of 2021 profile, but data from previous years as well as the experiences of peer schools allow us to estimate Anderson’s selectivity at 26%, up 5 percentage points since 2016.
BREAKING DOWN THE REST OF THE NUMBERS
The drop in MBA applications and a corresponding rise in the school’s acceptance rate is almost the only bad news for UCLA Anderson in its latest class profile. Anderson continues to be an elite school, of course, ranked No. 15 by Poets&Quants, No. 16 by U.S. News, No. 10 by The Financial Times, and, in its ranking released earlier this month, No. 16 among U.S. schools by Forbes. The numbers announced this month won’t change the school’s standing on most, if any, of these lists. Anderson matched its record-high average score on the Graduate Management Admission Test, 719, which was set last year, and it maintained its level of under-represented minorities at 29%, also matching a school record, also set last year. Looking at a four-year arc, Anderson is also up a couple of points in enrolled women, though at 34% it is still under the record of 38% set in 2017. The school hasn’t posted its average undergraduate grade-point average, preferring to report the middle 80%, which is 3.2-3.8 — but since its GPA has been 3.52 each of the last three years, it seems likely that will eventually be the official number.
UCLA’s MBA Class of 2021 comes from a wide sweep of backgrounds. Most (26%) majored in business as undergraduates, while 22% graduated with degrees in engineering, 17% in economics, 13% in humanities, 11% other, and 10% in math/science. In all, the 360 students enrolled in the Anderson MBA this fall hail from 157 undergrad institutions. Most (26%) worked in finance after graduating, though a similar proportion (25%) were employed in tech, and 20% worked in consulting. The rest of the class were employed in health care/biotech (10%), consumer goods (7%), public/nonprofit (5%), real estate (4%), or entertainment/media (3%). Average work experience is 5 years, with 12% of the class having worked for 0-3 years, 69% 3-6 years, and 19% more than 6 years.
But there were some soft spots in the new Anderson class profile — and they are related to the app slump. The new class is comprised of only 33% internationals, down from 38% four intakes ago, a 13.2% decline. Total number of countries represented in the new class is 37, down from 44 in 2016 and 2017, a nearly 16% drop.
TROUBLE IN THE MIDDLE AND LOWER TIERS
UCLA Anderson’s loss of 15% of application volume over the last two cycles puts it squarely in the middle of the pack. (See chart above.) A few higher-rankled schools — Yale SOM, Dartmouth Tuck, UC-Berkeley Haas, Northwestern Kellogg — have had steeper drop-offs, but most of the schools that have suffered the worst declines are lower in the rankings: Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, for example, which has lost more than 40% of applications since 2016; and the University of Texas-Austin McCombs School of Business, which has lost about 25%.
But several of UCLA’s peer schools are struggling to attract interest in their MBA programs, too: UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, ranked No. 19 by P&Q, has lost more than 38% of application volume in two cycles, while the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, ranked No. 12 and No, 14, respectively, have each lost one-fifth of total applications.
DON’T MISS APPS TO MAJOR U.S. PROGRAMS PLUNGE AGAIN
AS WELL AS OUR REPORTING ON THE APP DOWNTURN AT THE LEADING SCHOOLS: