Two top-20 business schools released their full-time MBA class profiles recently: Cornell University Johnson Graduate School of Management, based in upstate New York, and the University of California-Los Angeles Anderson School of Management, based in Southern California. In few places outside the rankings are these programs comparable; one is an Ivy League school with a storied history of graduating future financial barons; the other is a higher-ed jewel based the epicenter of high-tech royalty and the media/entertainment universe.
However, both the No. 12-ranked Cornell and the No. 16-ranked UCLA have experienced reverberations in the last few years as the tail end of an MBA applications slump gave way to the disruptions — and silver linings — of coronavirus. The effect on both: increased applications and greater diversity.
At UCLA, apps increased just 1.7% between 2019 and 2020, one of the smallest rebounds from three years of steady declines across the top 25. But for the current intake that begins classes this fall, apps are up big — a 7.6% jump. Given that the school’s class size remains identical at 360 students, it’s clear why the class Graduate Management Admission Test average jumped so high, from 706 to 714: Anderson’s admissions team had the luxury of choosing from among the highest score submitters.
UCLA: GREATER DIVERSITY IN SUN-KISSED L.A.
UCLA also increased its female representation, up from 40% to 42%, keeping Anderson in the company of the growing number of B-schools with 40% or more women in their full-time MBA. It also saw an uptick in minorities, which were reported at 30% last year; this year's class is fully 32% minorities. Meanwhile, the school maintained its 36% international composition.
In other ways, however, its composition is changing. Students with a tech work background declined to 22% from 26%, while those with experience in consulting made up the difference, growing to 21% from 15%.
"UCLA Anderson attracts an astounding range of people, perspectives and opportunities," states the school's MBA class profile page. "From underrepresented to military to LGBTQ students, not to mention the international students who make up more than one-third of our class, you’ll find an open-minded and diverse community."
AT CORNELL, WITH MORE APPS COMES IMPROVEMENTS IN DIVERSITY
Though it proclaims its diversity in these areas, Anderson's profile does not include data on URM (last year’s class was 12%), military or LGBTQ members of its new class. In one of those areas — military — Cornell Johnson is more transparent, reporting that 9% of its new Class of 2023 has a military background — which is more than those with manufacturing (6%) or healthcare (5%) backgrounds.
The largest group at Cornell, however, continues to be business — only more so. The share of Cornell MBA students with business work experience exploded this fall, from 33% to 54%. Engineering grew, too, to 18% from 15%, while most other categories declined. In terms of undergrad majors, finance continues to be the king — no surprise for a school that places such a premium, historically, on getting its grads good jobs on Wall Street. MBAs with finance degrees actually ticked upward this fall, to 31% from 30%.
In other key ways, Cornell has seen a significant and welcome turnaround, with applications jumping by 233, or 12.4%, this cycle. This after the school enjoyed a 22% increase between the previous two cycles. That in turn has resulted in a big increase in median GMAT (to 710 from 700), women (to 39% from 31%), and minorities (to 25% from 18%) without the school losing international student share.