Columbia | Mr. Old Indian Engineer
GRE 333, GPA 67%
Harvard | Mr. Athlete Turned MBB Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Ross | Mr. Civil Rights Lawyer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.62
Stanford GSB | Mr. Co-Founder & Analytics Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 7.4 out of 10.0 - 4th in Class
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Environmental Sustainability
GMAT N/A, GPA 7.08
Chicago Booth | Ms. CS Engineer To Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.31
Chicago Booth | Mr. Private Equity To Ed-Tech
GRE 326, GPA 3.4
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Trucking
GMAT 640, GPA 3.82
Ross | Mr. Low GRE Not-For-Profit
GRE 316, GPA 74.04% First Division (No GPA)
Harvard | Mr. Marine Pilot
GMAT 750, GPA 3.98
Harvard | Mr. Climate
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. Seeking Fellow Program
GMAT 760, GPA 3
Harvard | Mr. Army Intelligence Officer
GRE 334, GPA 3.97
Harvard | Ms. Data Analyst In Logistics
GRE 325, GPA 4
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Comeback Story
GRE 313, GPA 2.9
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Green Financing
GRE 325, GPA 3.82
Harvard | Mr. Gay Singaporean Strategy Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.3
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Bangladeshi Data Scientist
GMAT 760, GPA 3.33
Ross | Ms. Packaging Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.47
Columbia | Mr. MD/MBA
GMAT 670, GPA 3.77
MIT Sloan | Mr. Marine Combat Arms Officer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.3
Ross | Mr. Automotive Compliance Professional
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Darden | Mr. MBB Aspirant/Tech
GMAT 700, GPA 3.16
Kellogg | Mr. PM To Tech Co.
GMAT 720, GPA 3.2
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Chess Professional
GRE 317, GPA 8.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Deferred Asian Entrepreneur
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
Yale | Mr. IB To Strategy
GRE 321, GPA 3.6

Meet Vanderbilt Owen’s MBA Class Of 2021

Dean of Owen School of Business Eric Johnson.(John Russell/Vanderbilt University)


Overall, the Class of 2021 boasts full-time MBA students from 129 companies, including Morgan Stanley, Oracle, and Procter & Gamble. Academically, students hail from 99 undergraduate programs – not to mention 24 countries (including Brazil, Germany, Japan, Singapore, Ghana, and Morocco). Overall, international students account for 14% of the class, down from 16.5% of the previous year. Among American students, 43% come from the South, followed by the Northeast (16%), Southwest (13%), Mid-Atlantic (10%), and the Midwest and West (9% each).

Women take up 30% of the seats, the same percentage as the previous year. However, the percentage of minority students rose from 15% to 17%. Over a quarter of the class is married, with 12% possessing military service. On average, they are 28 years old, ranging in age from 21-36.

One defining feature of the Class of 2021 is size. There are 35 fewer students here than the previous year – a strange number considering the school received just 31 fewer applications from the year before (with the acceptance rate slipping from 61% to 58.7% to boot). Still, Owen managed to hold to its standards, with average GMAT rising from 678 to 680 and average undergraduate GPA climbing from 3.3 to 3.36.

2021 MBAs arriving in July


Those weren’t the only numbers where Owen enjoyed an uptick in 2019. The Class of 2019 experienced record base pay, which rose 7% to $118,888 over the previous year. That doesn’t count the record $25,642 average signing bonuses they received. Within three months of graduation, 97% of the class had received a job offer – ones so good that 95% had already accepted them during that time. Overall, Deloitte remained the top consumer of Owen talent, followed by Amazon, PwC, and Ernst & Young. Although the Nashville metro hired the largest number of 2019 grads, Owen remains a national proposition. Just 41% of the class remained in the south, with Dallas, New York City, and Chicago ranking among the biggest destinations for Owen grads last year.

Chances are, the Class of 2020 will enjoy similar results. Among first-years seeking internship, 100% landed an offer – a streak that stretches back eight years. One reason? Owen includes a career services center that ranks among the world’s ten-best according to the 2019 Financial Times’ student and alumni survey. In fact, three-quarters of Owen students credit the center with helping them land positions through postings, alumni referrals, and campus events. Despite Owen’s small size, it is unquestionably on the radar of recruiters. Over the past two years, 165 companies have hired Owen graduates.

Once hired, Owen MBAs tend to climb the ranks. W. Douglas Parker, for one, is currently the CEO of American Airlines. Nashville’s mayor, John Cooper is an ’85 MBA alum. The CEOs of Emerson Electric and NASDAQ, David Farr and Adena Friedman, also count themselves among Owen MBA alumni.

Owen students taking notes in a marketing class


What can future Owen CEOs expect from their school in coming years? This fall, P&Q reached out to Owen to learn about new developments coming to the program, along with exploring their rapidly-growing entrepreneurial resources and their Nashville locale. Here are the responses from Susan Oldham, the associate dean of MBA operations, Emily Anderson, the director of the career management center, and Michael Bryant, the director of the Owen Center for Entrepreneurship.

Poets&Quants: What are the most exciting new developments at your program?

Sue Oldham: “Our STEM designation in the finance concentration of our MBA program is a major game-changer for us. It’s not just about attracting the top international talent; it’s more about being responsive and sensitive to the difficulties our international students face. We wanted to have an immediate impact and send a clear message that we hear you and want to do what we can to support you. With this STEM designation, our international students on F-1 visas are eligible to remain in the US for an additional 24 months using this STEM OPT extension. For the student, the three years (total) of OPT offers a level of security and peace of mind. For the hiring companies, attracting and retaining better quality international students is always top of mind from a recruiting standpoint.”

Poets&Quants: What is the most underrated part of your program that you wish prospective students knew more about?

Sue Oldham: “The most underrated part of our program is an honor we are most proud of receiving: The 2019 MBA Applicant Survey, released June 2019 by the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC), confirms that human interaction is a competitive advantage in today’s digital world. Vanderbilt Business was rated #1 School That Got To Know Me The Best (AIGAC). This means so much to us because it focuses on the PEOPLE involved and PEOPLE are at the core of our “personal scale.”

Students gathered after class

We hold this designation in high regard because the prospective students, our customers, have spoken, and the human element is not to be forgotten throughout the recruiting and admissions process. In the end, we are not a GPA number or a GMAT or GRE score; we are each unique individuals, and Vanderbilt Business is recognized as the top school that works to get to know each person.”

Poets&Quants: Historically, Owen ranks among the leaders in internships and graduate placement. Some of that success can be traced back to your career services center. What are some strategies they use to help students and graduates land opportunities and jobs?

Emily Anderson: “Our goal is to provide services utilizing the “personal scale” that Owen is known for, which translates into several strategies. We have an emphasis on accessibility to coaching and career resources. Our small class size allows us to listen and attempt to adapt and customize based on student need, as they change with every class. We try to foster lifelong alumni engagement and hope alumni will continue to be helpful to current students with information, advice and career opportunities. We have a responsive and professional employer development staff that works with our employer partners to develop customized engagements with students and alumni.”

Sue Oldham: “Our Career Management Center’s overall strategy is simple: Engage Early. We recognize that recruiting is starting earlier each year as companies are searching for top talent and trying to get a jumpstart on the process. Our Career Management Center is very engaged throughout the entire recruiting and admissions process as we strive to deliver the Owen “personal scale” by walking alongside our students from the very beginning. Providing programming and preparation early in the process allows our students to be thoroughly prepared for recruiting opportunities, which can start as early as the summer before they even set foot on this campus to start their Vanderbilt MBA.”

Go to Page 3 for a dozen student profiles from the Class of 2021.

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