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Apps Climb, GMAT Explodes At Another Major MBA Program

Georgetown McDonough saw a massive increase in GMAT average amid a 10% jump in applications this cycle. Georgetown  photo

Some observers believe that business schools’ focus on Graduate Management Admission Test scores — even amid the rise of alternatives — could be a contributing factor in suppressing applications to top programs.

But when your newest class of MBA students brings a 14-point jump over the previous class and sets a new school record, well, it makes sense to center that in your class profile.

That’s the case at Georgetown McDonough School of Business, which reports an astonishing 14-point jump in its GMAT average, from 691 to 705, by far a school record. The increase can partly be credited to the 10% growth in applications the school received in 2020-2021, bringing the school most, but not quite all of the way back from its record in 2016-2017.


Shelly Heinrich, associate dean for MBA admissions at Georgetown McDonough, says the GMAT jump was the result of a confluence of events.

“It was a combination of factors that led to the increase, similar to what the industry is seeing,” Heinrich tells Poets&Quants. “In addition to having an increase in applications this year by 10%, the standardized test scores were up dramatically. The average GMAT across the applicant pool was up 17 points, for women it was up 32 points, for under-represented minorities it was up 19 points, and for international students it was up 13 points. We admitted a GMAT average that was up 11 points from last year.”

Not only did the GMAT average increase from 691 to 705, the median increased from 700 to 710, Heinrich points out.

“We were simultaneously more selective, decreasing our admit rate by 9%, and were more attractive, increasing yield by 7%, which led to the significant increase in GMAT score.”


Shelly Heinrich. Georgetown photo

International and minority numbers rebounded as well, the former up 9 percentage points from last fall, to 37%, a result of improved travel and reduced deferrals caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The latter number was a slight uptick from 2020, as was an increase in U.S. diversity, from 38% to 40%.

Both minority increases were small, but both represent the highest ratios recorded for the program.

“As the global reputation of the Georgetown MBA continues to grow, we are pleased to enroll our most selective and diverse classes in the school’s history,” Heinrich says, noting that the class, like its immediate predecessor, represents 37 countries.

“Welcoming diverse cohorts of students has been important to the student experience of our MBA for the past four decades, allowing students to continue to learn from one another now and into the future.”


Georgetown continues to lag its peers in women enrollment, however, staying flat this year at 32%. Of the 14 top-25 B-schools that have so far published Class of 2023 profiles, that’s the lowest female enrollment by 5 percentage points.

The numbers don’t tell the whole story, Heinrich says.

“When you dig deeper, our marketing and recruitment efforts paid off in very positive ways this year and we will hopefully continue to see this trend for our next class,” she says. “While the total percentage of women was flat as a proportion of the class, there was an overall increase in the number of women year-over-year by 15%. We also aggressively increased the admit strategy with 41% of the students we admitted being women versus 35% last year.

“We worked extensively last year to build the pipeline of women and were able to increase the percentage of women applying from 34% to 35%. When you consider that applications were up 10%, the actual number of increased applications from women was significant.”

She adds that the school had strong support from the Georgetown Women in Business student organization “and have implemented many initiatives internally over the past few years aimed at increasing the percentage of women: John Dealy Gender Equity Scholarship, Women Interview Days where women interview other women, Women’s Prospective Student Days and Coffee Chats and, in general, many more opportunities for our current female students to connect with prospective students.”


McDonough’s Flex MBA, its program for working professionals, had no problem with enrolling women this fall. It reports a class that is 44% women, “further supporting the fact that for some women, more flexibility, and less financial risk of leaving their job is a strong factor in their decision to pursue an MBA,” Heinrich says.

The Flex MBA also reports that under-represented minority students increased from 12% to 19%, and U.S. diversity increased from 31% to 34%. The program also increased the number of countries represented from 16 to 18.