Meet Columbia Business School’s MBA Class Of 2023

The final finishing touches are now being put in place at Columbia Business School’s new campus


It is a transition made easier, Brush adds, due to how engaged and “compassionate” his classmates are.

“That’s not an easy thing to achieve in a city stereotypically thought of as one of the busiest and toughest on Earth. Despite the constant buzz of opportunities, activities, and fast pace of the program and city, students and alumni went out of their way to set me up for success from initial informational chats, the application process, starting recruitment, and moving across the country to Manhattan.”

Career transitions are further aided by CBS’ location. New York City is home to over 50 Fortune 500 companies. Nearly all top companies maintain an office in the area, with the city acting as an epicenter for finance, media, fashion, and culture. Better still, it is easy to navigate, with most destinations being within a 30-45 minute subway or cab ride. Of course, the Big Apple ranks among the most diverse cities in the world. It is home to over 800 languages, meaning MBAs can find nearly every imaginable ethnic group, culture, or lifestyle. This mix of opportunity and community only amplifies CBS’ resources, which includes over 47,000 alumni, 100 clubs, and one of the largest catalogs of graduate business courses in the world.

“Access and accessibility matter,” emphasizes Edward Patterson. “This may seem like a no-brainer to those of us who chose CBS as our first choice, but it’s hard to underestimate just how important location is to your MBA experience. In NYC, I can meet with industry leaders in class or at a coffee shop instead of setting up a virtual call or travel. I’m able to take advantage of in-semester internships, giving me that on-the-job training that I probably wouldn’t normally get everywhere else. It’s also just an all-around great place to live.”

Columbia Business School students. Columbia Business School photo


Columbia Business School offers a unique admissions system with two intakes: January and August. The former (J) enables students to complete their degree in 16 months. This year’s J-Term netted 233 students, which were broken into three clusters. This fall, 614 students joined the Class of 2023, which was divided into eight clusters. Overall, CBS received 6,535 applications, ultimately accepting 18.6% of the students who applied. Among the 1,215 applicants who received an acceptance letter, 69.7% choose to enroll in the program.

This year, 48% of the class hails from overseas. Another 41% are women, with U.S. minorities holding a 40% share of the class. They range in age from 23 to 43, with most possessing 3-8 years of work experience. On average, the Class of 2023 arrive with a 729 GMAT, though scores ranged from 540-780 (with undergraduate GPAs coming in at 3.50).

Academically, the class profile is strangely…traditional. 37% of the class majored in Business as undergrads, followed by 18% in Economics. STEM majors account for 24% of the class between Engineering (15%), Sciences (7%), and Technology (2%). The remainder of the class includes students who studied the Social Sciences (13%) and the Humanities (6%).

In terms of professional experience, the largest segments are divided between Financial Services (31%) and Consulting (22%). Marketing and Media professionals make up 12% of the class, followed by Technology (9%), Real Estate (7%), Healthcare (5%), Military and Government (4%), Nonprofits (3%), Energy (1%), Manufacturing (1%).


No school has more momentum than CBS so far in 2022. Yes, the school set a record for starting median pay at $178,300 with the Class of 2021. However, the big news was the opening of the school’s new campus in Manhattanville, a 15-minute walk north of its current digs at Uris Hall. Call it a new beginning with a new identity. Spanning nearly 500,000 square feet, the campus cost nearly $600 million dollars to build. Featuring views of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge, it includes flexible classrooms, dining areas, and study rooms — not to mention two dozen interview rooms for recruiters. For CBS, the Manhattanville digs are a true game-changer that frees it up to build on its already formidable strengths.

“We have more space so we can bring more people back to the school,” Dean Costis Maglaras told P&Q in a December 2021 interview. “We will convene business leaders and alumni in a way that was not possible in our previous buildings. It expands the intellectual energy of the school, and we want it to be a nexus for the university to bring our engineering and medical school colleagues here. It creates a place to congregate intellectual energy throughout the university.”

The campus was also designed to bring faculty and students closer together by intermixing classrooms and offices. At the same time, it devotes extra space needed for students to mingle more easily. The by-product, of course, is a great sense of community — an underrated aspect of the CBS experience. That’s because of a common myth that urban schools that are filled with sharp-elbowed commuters who are just passing through on their way to a big job. The reality is quite different says Olivia Mell, a 2021 grad.

“We, as peers, are competitive, ambitious, and driven, absolutely. But CBS students are those things while genuinely wanting those around them to succeed as well,” she tells P&Q. “My classmates are incredibly supportive, push each other to bring our best selves to the experience, and will always do what they can to lift each other up and help each other out—whether it’s with an accounting problem set, interview prep, casing, or finding your voice.”

Columbia University campus from the air


Now that the Henry R. Kravis Hall and the David Geffen Hall are open for business, what can you expect from Columbia Business School? For one, CBS intends to become the top MBA program for climate change. That’s one topic that P&Q recently discussed with Amanda Carlson, the school’s assistant dean of admissions. From CBS’s increasing investment to life-long learning to the most popular courses and clubs at the school, here is what applicants and MBAs alike can expect.

P&Q:  What are the two most exciting developments at your program and how will they enrich the MBA experience for current and future MBAs?

AC: “Continuing the legacy of the late Professor Katherine Phillips, The Phillips Pathway to Leadership Program (PPIL) was created to ensure that our students are trained to be advocates for an inclusive workplace. As seen in Professor Phillips’ research, more diverse teams, when they are able to communicate and work collaboratively, produce better results for shareholders and stakeholders alike. Managing diversity is one of the most important leadership skills in today’s workplace. The PPIL was created by Camira Livers-Powell ’20 and Mariah Celestine ’20 as part of their Summer Fellowship work, working with our then-Vice Dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Gita Johar. There are four impact goals for the PPIL:

  1. Academics: Increase student awareness of the business case for diversity and the development of their own inclusive leadership toolkit.
  2. Careers: Encourage students to practice managing difference during their time at CBS to better prepare them for the workplace and leadership roles.
  3. Community: Create an inclusive environment for all students across programs, embracing diversity in all its forms.
  4. CBS Reputation: Emphasize CBS’s commitment to DEI and empower CBS to become a DEI pioneer among leading business schools.

We are very pleased to see a successful rollout of the PPIL and to see Camira’s and Mariah’s vision come to fruition.

There is also a new emphasis on climate change which will include an increased number of cases embedded in the core courses as well as more elective offerings. The school is investing resources and time to enhance research activities about how businesses, consumer psychology and finance can and will factor in. We are deepening our ties with other parts of the university, including the new Columbia Climate School, which will lead to invaluable collaborations augmenting our MBA student population to best explore both the challenge and also be part of the solution.”

Columbia’s Assistant Dean for MBA Admissions Amanda Carlson

P&Q: What are two biggest differentiating features of your MBA program? How do each of these enrich the learning of your MBA students?


A. Experiential Learning: At CBS, we pride ourselves on the richness of the experiential learning that is facilitated by our home in New York City. The nature of business school is changing, the types of professional roles our students seek are evolving, and likewise, our students’ skills need to continue to grow and develop. The CBS experiential learning model truly benefits our students to help them grow and evolve, by learning from faculty and practitioners who share their experiences real-time. This last year alone, our students have heard from Henry Kravis ’69, co-founder of KKR & Co. Inc., James Gorman ’87, chairman and CEO of Morgan Stanley, Greg Maffei, president and CEO of Liberty Media, and Debra Perelman ’00, president and CEO of Revlon Inc. They covered topics ranging from thought leadership to social justice to innovation. The experiential learning opportunities, both inside and outside of the academic classroom, are unparalleled.  Renowned figures share cutting-edge ideas, leadership styles, and personal philosophies with our students and faculty members in small group settings. These thoughtful exchanges truly provide a distinct competitive advantage for CBS because of the extent to which we are able to tap the intellectual capital in NYC.

B. Lifelong Learning:  CBS has a strong commitment to the lifelong learning opportunities for members of our community. CBS Alumni Edge is a new platform that provides alumni a competitive advantage to achieve evolving career goals in a constantly changing business environment. This is especially important for alumni who graduated before some of these innovative classes were taught. Alumni can now benefit from the thought leadership of our faculty through the convenience of an online learning platform. A few of the offerings include: Python for Managers; Leadership: People, Teams, and OrganizationsValue Investing: Making Intelligent Investment Decisions; and, Business Analytics. Hundreds of alumni have taken CBS Alumni Edge classes since they launched last summer, in 2020.”

P&Q: In recent years, there have been several areas that have gained increased prominence in business school programming, including STEM, analytics, artificial intelligence and digital disruption. How does your full-time MBA program integrate these concepts across its curriculum?

AC: “For years, Columbia Business School has helped students navigate the rapidly-changing world of business. Recognizing the impact of digital transformation on both business and society, we began heavily expanding our course offerings in this area seven years ago. Since then, our digital electives have increased five times over the past seven years, with 90% of students taking at least one advanced analytic class. Today, we offer more than 55 elective courses in the curriculum that incorporate STEM fields, helping to achieve our MBA program’s STEM-designation in February 2020.

After every semester and during annual planning, elective courses are reviewed and analyzed across the School to ensure we are innovating and adding coursework on current topics and industries.  In addition to already popular classes, such as Business Analytics, Analytics in Action, Python for MBAs, we added Economics and Politics of Digital Disruption, Digital Disruption and Tech Transformation, Enterprise Artificial Intelligence Strategy, and Data Science for Marketing Managers, to name a few.”

Next Page: Profiles of 11 Members of The Class of 2023

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