Stanford GSB | Mr. Hopeful B School Investment Analyst
GRE 334, GPA 4.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Stuck Consultant
GMAT 760, GPA 3.6
MIT Sloan | Mr. Mechanical Engineer W/ CFA Level 2
GMAT 760, GPA 3.83/4.0 WES Conversion
Harvard | Mr. Certain Government Guy
GMAT 720, GPA 3.3
Wharton | Mr. Asset Manager – Research Associate
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Mr. Community Involvement
GMAT 600, GPA 3.2
Stanford GSB | Ms. Eyebrows Say It All
GRE 299, GPA 8.2/10
Chicago Booth | Mr. International Banker
GMAT 700, GPA 3.4
MIT Sloan | Mr. South East Asian Product Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.6
Harvard | Ms. Hollywood To Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.5
Stanford GSB | Ms. Investor To Fintech
GMAT 750, GPA 3.8
Kellogg | Mr. Structural Engineer
GMAT 680, GPA 3.2
Darden | Mr. Anxious One
GRE 323, GPA 3.85
Ross | Mr. Saudi Engineer
GRE 312, GPA 3.48
Harvard | Ms. Consumer Sustainability
GMAT 740, GPA 3.95
Columbia | Ms. Retail Queen
GRE 322, GPA 3.6
Tuck | Ms. Confused One
GMAT 740, GPA 7.3/10
NYU Stern | Mr. Health Tech
GMAT 730, GPA 3.0
Stanford GSB | Mr. Low GPA To Stanford
GMAT 770, GPA 2.7
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Regulator To Private
GMAT 700, GPA 2.0
Harvard | Mr. Air Force Seeking Feedback
GRE 329, GPA 3.2
MIT Sloan | Mr. Spaniard
GMAT 710, GPA 7 out of 10 (top 15%)
Harvard | Ms. Marketing Family Business
GMAT 750- first try so might retake for a higher score (aiming for 780), GPA Lower Second Class Honors (around 3.0)
Stanford GSB | Mr. Deferred MBA Candidate
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Colombian Sales Leader
GMAT 610, GPA 2.78
Emory Goizueta | Mr. Family Business Turned Consultant
GMAT 640, GPA 3.0
Tuck | Ms. BFA To MBA
GMAT 700, GPA 3.96

Poets&Quants’ Top Business School Trends Of The Decade

3. The Rise of Entrepreneurship Programs

All changes in graduate business education are, to some degree, sparked by students. What students want will always be a crucial consideration for curriculum shapers — second only to what industry wants, though of course the two are deeply intertwined. But what students increasingly want these days is to be their own bosses — not to go to work for a lifetime of making money for someone else. And that has schools not only fashioning more entrepreneurship programs and concentrations but incorporating entrepreneurial thinking into more coursework throughout their MBAs.

While they once acted as incubation labs, and still do, B-schools in recent years have morphed into teaching the mindset of entrepreneurship, and that has infiltrated entire programs.

Stanford Graduate School of Business gets credit for producing the most entrepreneurs each year, with Stanford serving as the epicenter of the fertile startup soil of Silicon Valley; some 16% of the GSB Class of 2019, the most recent we have employment data for, became their own bosses. But Harvard is not far behind: Few are aware that HBS’s entrepreneurship teaching group is second-largest at the school. For the third straight year in 2020, Stanford had more startups in the Top 100 than any other school according to P&Q‘s annual analysis, with 34; Harvard followed with 23. While the gap between Stanford and Harvard was large, it was smaller than 2019, when Stanford had 38 of the Top 100 and Harvard had 21. In the seven years P&Q has been tracking startups based on funding, both Stanford and Harvard have now had the exact same number of startups on the list — 210.

What are the biggest startups to come out of MBA programs in the last 10 years? We just happen to have written about that this month!

While Stanford and Harvard duke it out, smaller programs are making entrepreneurial waves. For the 27th year in a row, Babson College was crowned the top entrepreneurship school in the country by U.S. News & World Report in 2020. In P&Q‘s inaugural entrepreneurship ranking last year, Babson placed third behind Stanford, while Washington University in St. Louis’ Olin Business School took the top spot, beating out 26 other schools. From 2016 to 2018, some 20.7% of Olin MBAs launched companies within three months of graduation — more than any other ranked school. Olin also has nearly $1 million in annual funding for student entrepreneurs, and about three of every four MBA students are involved in the entrepreneurship club at the school. P&Q will publish its 2020 entrepreneurship ranking October 27.

Poets&Quants’ Founder John A. Byrne

2. Graduate Business Education Inches Toward Gender Parity 

Medical schools and law schools achieved gender parity — and then some — in their student ranks long ago. In most graduate as well as undergraduate programs, women now outnumber men. Not so in business schools. Why have B-schools, and particularly MBA programs, always lagged? Many factors, cited repeatedly in surveys over the years — among them women’s greater concern than men over the financial burden of pursuing a graduate business degree, greater concern over a perceived lack of flexibility in MBA programs, and greater interest in work-life balance. Women have long seen the expectation of starting a family in the future as the biggest impediment to investing in a costly and time-consuming MBA program.

But things are beginning to change. Schools have put in the effort to make MBA programs more appealing and make women feel more welcome once they arrive, including offering more scholarship money and launching initiatives like UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business’s Center for Gender Equality. The result: In the last 10 years, the proportions of women have increased dramatically at many top B-schools, and incrementally but steadily at others. In 2018, USC became the first top-25 school to crack the glass ceiling, with 52% of women in its Marshall School of Business MBA. Meanwhile, elite schools like Wharton and Stanford have not only eclipsed the 40% threshold but stayed there; in 2019 both led all U.S. schools with 47% women in their MBA programs.

Even as apps have plunged worldwide (and particularly in the United States), the drive for gender equity in MBA programs continues to make progress. According to a Forté Foundation report last November, the percentage of women who have enrolled in full-time MBA programs in the U.S. continues to climb upward, to about 39% on average in the fall of 2019. U.S. schools continue to outpace non-U.S. schools, which average 36% women enrollment. Oxford University’s Saïd Business School led all European schools in 2019 with 44%.

Remarkably, the drive for gender equity in B-school faculties is further behind, according to a report released in early March of this year. 20-First, a UK-based management consultancy, reported that only one of the 20 B-schools it examined in the U.S., Europe, and Asia had reached the 30% mark in female faculty: Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School. The top U.S. schools were Harvard and Virginia’s Darden School of Business, with 29% each; the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, with just 18% women on its faculty, had the worst marks of any school.

1. The Rise of The Full-Service Online MBA

Across the United States, several full-time MBA programs have closed in recent years: at Wake Forest, at the University of Iowa, at Virginia Tech, and elsewhere. This year alone the MBAs at Missouri Trulaske and Purdue Krannert have shuttered — the latter a program that was ranked in the top 40 by Businessweek as recently as 2017. But these schools have not given up the MBA game entirely. Instead, many have put the resources that would have gone into their residential MBA into online MBA programs: see Iowa’s Tippie College of Business, Wake Forest, and the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign’s Gies College of Business for prime examples. In less than five years the $22,000 iMBA from Illinois Gies boosted enrollment to between 3,750 and 4,000 students this fall, hailing from 114 countries.

These schools — and others that have maintained their shrinking residential MBA programs while making big moves into the virtual space, like Boston University, which welcomed the first class to its $24K online MBA this month — are acknowledging the reality that today’s business student often doesn’t have the time or the finances to quit work for two years and study full-time, in many cases after relocating a long distance. Nor could schools physically accommodate the numbers that Gies and others are enrolling. But this is not a revelation, as the heavy investment in online business education at top-25 universities over the past decade shows.

As virtual learning has gained in acceptance — a process accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic — the myths about online MBAs have fallen away: that students should expect minimal support, second-string professors, unfriendly systems, and slipshod course design. That is surely true in places — but at the elite programs and an increasing number of others, students can expect an impressive portfolio of options. Programs like Carnegie Mellon Tepper’s online MBA (ranked No. 1 last year by P&Q), Indiana Kelley’s Direct Online MBA (ranked No. 1 by U.S. News), UNC Kenan-Flagler’s MBA@UNC, and Rice University Jones’s MBA@Rice are world-class, employing state-of-the-art design and cutting-edge innovations led by the same faculty who teach in their residential programs. The cost often reflects that: the price tag for CMU Tepper’s program is $137,200, for UNC’s $125,589, for the online MBA at USC Marshall School of Business $106,197. But most programs are considerably cheaper than their residential counterparts, in the $30K-$45K range. And they have lower thresholds for admission; some don’t even require you to take the GMAT at all.

More than 320 business schools in the U.S. alone now offer online MBA options; scarcely a month goes by without another program popping up. Even the big names in the graduate business education game: In the fall of 2019 alone, the University of Michigan and UC-Davis welcomed their first cohorts of online students. And this is to say nothing of the expansive suite of online offerings available through Harvard Online. Will McKinsey and Amazon and Bain and Google and other top hirers of MBAs start hiring online MBA degree holders in great numbers? Eventually, maybe. Regardless, employment outcomes are still solid: See our story last fall on job placement rates at the top online MBA programs.

The future of the online MBA is bright. We’ll be tracking it every step of the way. Keep abreast of all the latest developments at Poets&Quants’ Online MBA Hub.

Poets&Quants’ Top 10 Online MBA Programs Of 2020

RankSchool2019 Rank2018 RankFinal ScoreAdmissions FinalTotal Experience ScoreCareer TotalTotal Cost
1Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)4110010099.3597.88$137,200
2Indiana University (Kelley)3292.7286.2595.5195.36$74,520
3University of Southern California (Marshall)1NR89.8279.2489.88100$106,197
4Lehigh University5688.6382.3590.6392.83$39,600
5University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)62087.6571.1995.3296.59$125,589
6University of Massachusetts-Amherst (Isenberg)13887.0388.6783.289.52$35,983
7Worcester Polytechnic Institute (Foisie)NRNR86.3773.0190.6895.89$75,168
8Auburn University (Harbert)21086.1479.2485.7393.99$35,100
9University of Nebraska-Lincoln81783.6378.5284.0989.41$30,240
10Rochester Institute of Technology (Saunders)221380.1643.7910098.63$78,000

Honorable Mention: Students — And B-Schools — Embrace Social Impact

The ethos “Business as a force for good” has been gaining traction for years as B-schools respond to MBA applicants’ and candidates’ growing inclination to eschew the single-minded pursuit of money. The new generation of MBA students still want to get paid, of course, but many are willing to make less if it means helping the planet in a measurable, definable way. As the number of women has grown in graduate business education — both in front of the class and inside it — so too have programs designed to appeal to those who want to use their talents to make the world a better place. Sectors that have gained by the increased attention include nonprofits, government, and education — not in earth-shattering numbers, but enough to be noticed; hardly ever more than 1% or 2% of each graduating class, but always a persistent, measurable number. Wharton’s 2019 employment report shows 3.3% of MBAs went into social impact.

A course at Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business exemplifies the trend. For the past 12 years, Business on the Frontlines has sent Mendoza MBA students to under-developed, post-conflict countries around the world to examine the impact of business. When new Dean Martijn Cremers took over at Mendoza in 2019, he expanded the course from an elective to a core course, making it “an essential part of the Notre Dame MBA.” This move has been mirrored in countless social impact programs elsewhere. Stanford GSB deserves credit for being a leader in the sphere in the U.S., though all the elite U.S. schools now have similar offerings; in Europe, which in many ways is ahead of the curve in embracing social impact programming and the idea of “business as a force for good,” France’s INSEAD has been a long-time leader, as well.

The world is changing. Money isn’t everything. And MBAs aren’t just following the tide — they’re rowing the boat.


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