Technically, the University of Michigan Ross School of Business lost MBA application volume in the 2021-2022 cycle. But really, given the anomalous nature of the previous two cycles, it wasn’t a loss at all — more like a return to normalcy.
The Ross School saw a 9.3% decline in apps in the most recent cycle that resulted in the newly announced MBA Class of 2024, to 3,632 from 4,003, as well as a corresponding jump in acceptance rate, to more than 28% from just over 20% — but those figures were still improvements from the pandemic intake of 2020 (Class of 2022), when Ross reported just 2,567 apps and its admit rate ballooned to 37%, or even the year before when the numbers were 2,990 and 31%, respectively.
Snapping back into place is the theme this year for the Ross School, one of the premier public-school MBA programs in the U.S., which reports a lower-but-still-impressive Graduate Management Admission Test average, a lower-but-still-impressive grade point average, and a lower-but-still-impressive women’s enrollment — while enrolling a record-breaking cohort of international students, U.S. minority students, and first-generation college students. See the table below for details.
'A STRONG CULTURE OF ALLYSHIP'
"We are thrilled to welcome such a strong and diverse class this year, including breaking records for our percentage of U.S. students of color and number of first-generation students," says Taya Sapp, senior associate director of admissions at Michigan Ross. "We are excited to welcome them to Michigan Ross, and we are confident that they will make a great positive impact in our community and beyond."
Michigan is not the first business school to report declining applications in the last cycle — nor is it the first to report strong metrics that can be seen to offset the negative news. Its international population jumped for a second year in a row, up 56.5% since the Class of 2022 began, and while the number of countries represented in the class declined, it is still way up from two and three years ago. The 720 average GMAT ties the school's second-best score from 2018, and its 160 Verbal and 160 Quant matches exactly last year's Graduate Record Exam score — a school best since at least 2018. While the 42% of the class identifying as female marks a six-year low for the Ross School, it keeps the school in the growing group of top-25 U.S. B-schools above the 40% threshold, and still in the gender parity conversation.
Ross continues to improve in other diversity metrics, as well, Though now-departed MBA admissions chief Soojin Kwon last year described the Class of 2023 as "The most diverse cohort of full-time MBA students to join Michigan Ross," the percentage of U.S. minorities actually increased this year, to 42% from 36%, while the first-generation cohort jumped to 14% from 11%, LGBTQ+ students number 9%, and students with military backgrounds increased to 7% from 5%.
"We have a strong culture of allyship — for women as well as other underrepresented groups," Kwon said in fall 2023. "Students came together individually and through student clubs to support our Black Business Students Association and Asian American Business Students Association last year during a year of increased violence against those and other racial groups. Allyship and related training has been part of our orientation program for the past several years and more in-depth allyship training was offered to our community last year."
BIG JUMP IN STUDENTS FROM THE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY
The Ross MBA, named Program of the Year by Poets&Quants in 2021, did not see any major shakeups in the other major metrics commonly reported in class profiles, namely pre-MBA industries (work backgrounds) and undergraduate majors. The school continues to lure primarily consultants, though their proportion in the program shrank this year to 19% from 23%. Students from the financial services sector, meanwhile, grew from 11% to 14%.
The most noteworthy development is the rise of healthcare: 14% of incoming MBAs have healthcare backgrounds, where the sector didn't even register in double digits last year. Perhaps that shouldn't;t be surprising at the school that is home to the Health Equity Conference and the Pinkert Healthcare Accelerator. Last year in its Class of 2021 employment report, the Ross School reported median healthcare MBA salaries of $191,000, behind only MIT Sloan School of Management, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Harvard Business School, and UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business.
Another interesting development: MBA students in Ross's new class have mostly STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) undergraduate degrees for the first time, eclipsing business majors 40% to 38%. Humanities majors this year are a distant third at 22%.