Stanford Graduate School of Business, which has been in a nip-and-tuck comparison with Wharton for the highest class GMAT scores, has reported the highest GMATs in its history for the school’s newest class of MBA students. GMAT scores for Stanford’s Class of 2023 rose five points to an unprecedented 738, up from 733 a year earlier. The new score puts the class in the 97th percentile, or the top 3%, of all GMAT test takers in the world.
While only a point higher than Stanford’s average of 737 for the entering MBA classes in 2017 and 2016, the record occurs after what many admission consultants believe was an intentional effort to bring standardized test scores down after concerns that they would discourage some candidates from applying to the school’s MBA program. The GMAT scores for Stanford’s Class of 2023 ranged from a low of 610 to a high of 790, ten points shy of a perfect 800 score.
The five-point gain occurred in a year when applications rose modestly by less than a percent to 7,367, up from 7,324 a year earlier. That amounted to only a 0.6% increase, less than the 5% rise reported by Harvard Business School and the 2.5% increase at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School (see table below). Even so, Stanford’s numbers put it in the enviable position of having more than 17 applicants for each seat in its entering classroom.
The school enrolled a cohort of 426 students, ten fewer than last year. This year’s crop of MBAs includes an undisclosed number of deferrals from the previous year. While Stanford did not disclose its admit rate, the school most likely fell back to a more normal acceptance rate of slightly above 6% to maintain its lead as the most selective prestige MBA program in the world. Last year, the GSB posted an abnormally high admit rate of 8.9% to make up for most international students who deferred their admissions due to travel and visa challenges caused by the pandemic. The school then admitted 651 of its 7,324 applicants to enroll a class of 436.
STANFORD KEEPS ITS LEAD OVER ALL OTHER SCHOOLS WITH HIGHEST GMATs, GREs & GPAs
Stanford held on to its GMAT lead despite an even larger increase in both average and median GMAT scores at Wharton which has only matched the GSB for the highest standardized test scores of any U.S. business school three years ago in 2018 (see below chart). This year’s incoming Wharton MBA students posted a 11-point jump in a record average GMAT score for Wharton of 733, matching Stanford’s number last year, as well as a 10-point increase in the median score to 740, ten points above Harvard (see Average GMAT Scores Jump 11 Points At Wharton). Stanford’s increase will almost certainly allow the school’s MBA program to remain number one in U.S. News’ next ranking which weights GMAT and GRE scores in its annual list of the top programs.
GRE scores averaged 330, with scores of 165 across both the verbal and quant sections of the test. That's one point higher on the Quant than last year when the overall score was 329. The GRE Verbal range this year was 149 to 170, while the Quant range was 154 to 170. Stanford said that 76% of the Class of 2023 submitted GMAT scores and 25% of the Class of 2023 submitted GRE scores, the same exact percentage as last year, with some students submitting scores for both tests.
In a class profile published today (Sept. 29), the school also reported that it maintained its edge in undergraduate GPA, another weighted factor by U.S. News. The average GPA for Stanford's Class of 2023 is 3.78, compared to Harvard's 3.69 and Wharton's 3.60.
INCREASES IN RACIAL AND ETHNIC DIVERSITY
Like Harvard Business School this year, Stanford significantly increased the racial and ethnic diversity of its entering class. In percentage terms, the school increased Black American students by 43% to 10%, up from 7% a year earlier, while Asian American students increased by 30% to 30% of the class, and Hispanic/Latinx students rose 9% to compose 12% of the incoming students.
First-generation college students rose by a third to represent 12% of the class, up from the 9% a year earlier who were the first in their family to graduate from a four-year college or university. That number, rarely reported by most schools, is as important a metric as the more widely accessible racial and gender data because it would include whites who lack the socio-economic advantages of many other white students.
Another key metric disclosed by Stanford this year is the number of institutions from which students earned their undergraduate degrees as well as their former employers. More recently disclosed data shows that a high percentage of MBA students at the top business schools come from elite universities and organizations, largely Ivy or near-Ivy colleges and the big global consulting firms, McKinsey, Bain and the Boston Consulting Group. Stanford reported that its entering students were enrolled previously at 164 different academic institutions, up from 144 in the Class of 2022. Students with previous work experience hail from 315 different organizations which Stanford called “a new record” for an incoming MBA class.
WOMEN FELL IN A YEAR WHEN WHARTON AND HARVARD ACHIEVED RECORDS
The increased diversity of the class came as the admissions team at Stanford expanded its outreach efforts in 2020 to include a full week of online programming for prospective and admitted students on diversity and leadership, with more than 1,500 attendees and 23 sessions on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) topics. Among the Class of 2023 are recipients of the newly launched BOLD (Building Opportunities for Leadership Diversity) Fellowship, which provides assistance to students who face significant financial hardship and are committed to the advancement of DEI.
On the other hand, increasing the percentage of women in this cohort proved more of a challenge. Some 44% of the incoming students are female, down from 47% a year earlier, in a year when Wharton exceeded gender parity with a record 52% women and Harvard achieved a new record of 46%.
Stanford saw its international contingent in the class increase by some 34% to 47% of the incoming students. The rise of internationals, which includes foreign nationals, dual citizens, and U.S. permanent residents, came after many international admits were unable to join last year’s class due to the pandemic. Members of the Class of 2023 come from 63 countries, down from 66 a year earlier. Harvard, Wharton and many other top business schools have all reported increased representation of internationals in this year’s entering classes.