Meet Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA Class Of 2021

The Global Hub


Like its peer schools, Kellogg suffered a downturn in applications during the 2018-2019 cycle. The number of applications plummeted from 4,471 to 3,779, or a 15.5% decrease. On the plus side, this decrease made it easier for applicants to get into Kellogg…with the school’s acceptance rate climbing from 21.9% to 26%. That said, Kellogg didn’t dilute its standards to maintain its 474 member class.  Notably, the Class of 2021 posted a 730 average GMAT, equal to cross-town Chicago Booth and higher than MIT Sloan. In addition, the class’s undergraduate GPA remained lodged at 3.6.

In terms of demographics, the class is slightly less diverse than its predecessors. For one, it includes fewer women, with the percentage slipping from 46% to 43% (though still higher than the 42% and 41% rates reported for the classes of 2019 and 2018, respectively). Like most top-tier MBA programs, Kellogg also attracted fewer international students, a number that fell two points to 32%. The percentage of underrepresented American minorities also dipped a point to 26%.

Overall, the Class of 2021 looks eerily similar to its predecessor. Academically, business and economics majors account for 49% of the class, down just a point. The remainder of the class is split between STEM (29%) and humanities (24%). Again, consultants take up the largest percentage of seats at 24%, down three points. Financial services again composed 19% of the class, followed by technology and communications (14%), government, education, and nonprofits (8%), healthcare (5%), and consumer products (4%).


While applications are down, starting pay is up for new grads. In October, Kellogg reported that median starting pay and sign-on bonus for 2019 graduates came to $165,080, a 13.8% bump – or more than $20,000 in real dollars. Add to that, graduates padded another $89,600 to their pay within a five-year window according to Forbes. No wonder the Class of 2021 is all-in on the program’s team-driven philosophy! The Kellogg MBA has also proven year-after-year to be an appreciating asset, with students and alumni giving the program high marks in areas like prestige, diversity of recruiters, applicable skills, and academic quality in recent Bloomberg Businessweek surveys.

Teamwork is emphasized in the Kellogg MBA program

Among academics and students, Kellogg is best known for M&M: management and marketing. With the former, Kellogg alumni include the current CEOs of Allstate, Northwestern Mutual, Campbell Soup, DuPont, Target, Office Depot, ExxonMobil, SAP, and Loop Capital – along with past CEOs of Kraft Foods, Motorola, Mattel, Hershey, and Burger King. The alumni network even stretches to the public sector, with Kellogg MBAs including Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, U.S. Representative Brad Schneider (IL), and North Dakota Senator John Hoeven. However, Kellogg is best known for housing the world’s top marketing program – a notion repeatedly back up by academics in surveys (along with the program’s array of marketing electives and world-class faculty). Still, Kellogg has been tagged as a “marketing school” – a compliment on the surface that doesn’t account for the program’s wide-ranging offerings or its tendency to place more graduates in consulting, technology, and financial services.

“While Kellogg’s marketing department and group of professors are great, there are numerous other very high caliber departments such as the strategy, management, and organizations (“MORS”), finance, and operations,” writes Tristan Loiselle, a 2019 P&Q MBA To Watch. “With that being said, what makes Kellogg so great is that it has so much more to offer beyond simply the academics, including almost countless leadership, club, travel, and cultural immersion opportunities.”

The Kellogg program has always been newsmakers in recent years. In 2017, the school opened the doors to its $250 million dollar Global Hub along Lake Michigan. A 415,000 square foot, glass-encased architectural marvel, the Global Hub symbolizes the program’s community feel that funnels students and faculty together in wide spaces to comfortably communicate and collaborate. It is a space where you can see nearly everything and everyone, with bells-and-whistles ranging from a gym-quality exercise room to design and virtual reality studios. That doesn’t count study rooms with electric fireplaces and views of the Chicago skyline.


The Global Hub was the fulfillment of a vision laid out eight years ago by then-Dean Sally Blount, who stepped down this year and was replaced by Francesca Cornelli, a deputy dean at the London Business School. How will Cornelli’s appointment impact the MBA program? This fall, P&Q posed this question – and several others – to Kate Smith, the program’s assistant dean of admissions and financial aid. These are her responses about new developments at the Kellogg MBA, along with underexplored aspects of the program that students sometimes overlook.

This plaza-like space near the entrance serves as the center of action in the Global Hub

1) What are the most exciting new developments at your program?

New Dean

“We are so thrilled to welcome our new dean to Kellogg this fall. Francesca Cornelli is a widely-respected scholar and a leader in business education. She joins us from London Business School and brings an immense amount of global perspective. Her expertise includes private equity, innovation policy, and corporate governance. I’m also very proud that Francesca is our third subsequent female dean, succeeding Sally Blount and interim dean Kathleen Hagerty.

Francesca’s appointment is a reflection of how globally minded we are. She will join a culture where there is already a spirit of global collaboration – you walk the halls of this building every day and constantly hear multiple languages and diverse points of view. It creates a dynamic where you don’t even need to leave campus to have global exposure on an hourly basis.”

New Courses

“Curricular innovation continues to be a big focus for us. In the last five years, we’ve launched 64 new courses – including 12 new courses in the last year alone. Courses launched in the last year include negotiations in a virtual world, early-stage healthcare investing, and blockchain technology in the future of finance.”

New Academic Pathways

Kate Smith ©2018 C. Jason Brown / Insight Images

“We are also incredibly excited to announce three new pathways that debuted in 2019. A pathway is a cross-functional sequence of courses that addresses a particular skill set or industry. You have the flexibility to pursue any number of pathways, and go as deep as you’d like into each one. We typically launch our pathways in response to student and recruiter demand.

We created our Tech Management Pathway because 1 in 4 students in last year’s class was recruited into technology positions, such as product management and product marketing. The Energy and Sustainability pathway was created because our students are increasingly interested in the sustainability sector. We created our Asset Management Pathway because financial services is our third most popular industry choice for our graduating students. The pathway focuses on investing in publicly traded assets and developing a core set of valuation skills. A key part of the pathway is its experiential learning course offerings – including the Asset Management Practicum, where students manage long/short equity portfolios that have up to $10 million in assets.

Some of our other popular pathways are Data Analytics, PE/VC, and Entrepreneurship. We have 10 in total.”

2) What is a part of your program that you wish prospective students knew more about?  


“Nearly all students spend some time abroad as part of their Kellogg experience. In fact, 40 percent of students pursue at least two global experiences while at Kellogg.

Most full-time students participate in KWEST, which stands for Kellogg Worldwide Exploration Student Trips. Each trip is designed and led by five second-year students, and includes a small group of about 20 incoming students. They intentionally travel in small groups to form a core community before the term officially starts. Every KWEST trip goes to a unique location – as far away as New Zealand and as close as Western Canada – and every detail is planned exclusively by students for students.

Some students choose to do a formal international exchange program for 10 weeks. Students could be providing consulting services for a small, family-run business in South Africa, studying luxury retail marketing in Paris, or taking finance courses in London or Hong Kong.

We also offer several courses with a two-week immersion. Global Initiatives in Management, or GIM, allows students to take a 10-week course on campus to learn about the business climate in a certain country. In the end, they travel to that country or region of the world together for 10 days to work on an independent research project. Our GIM class, “Branding the Nation,” visited the capital of Brazil, where they had the opportunity to speak with Brazil’s Minister of Justice, Sergio Moro. He previously served as a federal judge where he became known as one of the main faces in the fight against corruption in the country.”

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