Another M7 school has published its MBA class profile — and with it more evidence that the last application cycle was a solid success for the great majority of top business schools.
MIT Sloan School of Management released its profile Wednesday (September 22) showing improvement in nearly every soft spot from last year’s MBA class. Women? There are many more this year. Internationals? Same. Meanwhile the school’s median Graduate Management Admission Test score rebounded to its pre-pandemic level, and undergraduate GPA regained the ground it had lost, too.
How did MIT do it? By keeping in place its test-optional approach for 2020-2021, the school joined most of its peers — in fact, most of the top-25 schools that have reported the relevant data — in enjoying a continued upward trajectory in applications. Like M7 peers Harvard and Wharton, both of which saw increases, but unlike Kellogg and Columbia, which saw drops, MIT’s apps climbed again in the sequel to the boom cycle of the coronavirus pandemic.
MOST WOMEN IN SCHOOL HISTORY: 44%
But Sloan's growth is the highest of the bunch. It reports receiving 7,112 applications in 2020-2021, a total that includes Leaders for Global Operations students who earn both an MBA and an engineering degree. That’s a new school record, up 12% from last year’s 6,350, which came about as a result of an extended app season amid the onset of the pandemic in March 2020, reversing a two-year decline with a jaw-dropping 22% increase. The Sloan School had received only 5,200 apps in 2018-2019, down 6.5% from the previous year’s 5,560 and down 10.3% from 2016-2017, when the school received 5,798 applications.
MIT, like many other schools, enrolled a larger-than-usual class in fall 2020, 484 students (up from 416, a 16% jump), because many classes were held virtually. This year the class shrank back to a more manageable size for planned in-person classes, 450 students. With more candidates and fewer seats to fill, Sloan’s admissions put together a class that has the most women in school history (44%) and the most international students in at least five years (43%) and by far the most countries represented: 64, while simultaneously enjoying a rebound in its median GMAT to 730 after slipping to 725 last year.
Sloan’s latest class also achieved the highest median GPA in school history (3.59), surpassing the previous mark set in 2019.
DIVERSITY: ‘CRITICAL TO THE MBA EXPERIENCE’
But surely even more gratifying for Sloan’s admissions and leadership was seeing gains in another area where the B-school has traditionally not been among annual leaders: under-represented minorities. MIT’s Class of 2023 saw its URMs — students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents who self-identify as Black/African-American, Hispanic/Latinx, Native American or Alaska Native, or Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander — grow to 23% this year, up from 20% last year. That puts MIT in the same neighborhood as to other M7 schools, cross-town cousin Harvard (26%) and Kellogg (23%), and outpaces Columbia (20%) and Wharton (17%).
“We intentionally assemble teams of students who have a variety of skills and experience," the school states in its class profile. "This diversity is critical to the MBA experience. Together, we benefit from the many perspectives our students from all over the world bring to the community.”
It all comes back to applications — the bigger the pool of talent to choose from, the stronger the final enrolled class. With its 12% increase in applications — one year after seeing a 22% increase, burying all but memories of the prolonged slump that furrowed the brows of MBA program directors everywhere — MIT leads all top-10 schools that have reported except Yale (12.3% app growth) and joins a group of six other schools whose 2023 builds on the gains of the the previous cycle with double-digit app growth in 2020-2021.
NO MAJOR SHIFTS IN STUDENT BACKGROUND
Right or wrong (or simply outdated), GMAT continues to be the most looked-to measure of a class’s academic prowess, even as GRE has grown dramatically in importance in recent years, boosted by its smoother transition online last year. At MIT Sloan, more apps translated to a better set of GRE stats, too: The mid-80% quant range for enrolled students who submitted a GRE score was 158 to 169, up from 156 to 168, while the verbal range was 157 to 168, from 154 to 169.
Sloan MBA students continue to largely come from a consulting background (22%, same as last year), though finance grew as a source of student, to 21% from 17%. Most ‚— fully a third for the third years straight — also carry engineering degrees; for the second year in a row, 19% carry economics degrees, while those with business degrees grew to 18% from 16%. See table below for details.