Last year, Northwestern Kellogg School of Management was one of a handful of top-50 business schools to report a gain in average undergraduate grade point average for its incoming full-time MBA class. While it’s not uncommon to see little to no fluctuation in GPA average from year to year, Kellogg’s MBA Class of 2023 contained enough accomplished scholars to bump up its average class GPA from 3.60, where it had been for several years, to 3.70.
GPA may not be the most important measure of class quality — a point made by more than one admissions gatekeeper over the years — but it’s a highlight for Kellogg for a second straight year. Among an array of interesting data points in the newly announced profile for the full-time MBA Class of 2024, this year’s batch of scholars upholds Kellogg’s standard of academic excellence by meeting last year’s record-high average GPA of 3.70, among the highest of any business school in the world.
“Each year, we engage in a holistic process to select our incoming class,” Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Emily Haydon says, “with our admissions team evaluating multiple factors, from academic accomplishment to interpersonal skills to the impact applicants have had on their organization. We also assess the potential to demonstrate the unique combination of analytical, creative and social intelligence that sets our graduates apart time and time again in the professional world.”
NO APP DATA THIS YEAR
Northwestern Kellogg became the third M7 school and the sixth in the top 10 to announce its 2024 MBA class, but the announcement omits one key data point. We don’t know Kellogg’s application total in the 2021-2022 cycle, making it the second major school this fall to decline to report the number despite having done so in previous years. What we do know is context and history. Last year, Kellogg — unlike 19 of the top-25 B-schools in the United States — saw a massive decline in apps, snapping back 20% from its school record of more than 5,600 in the first pandemic cycle of 2019-2020. It makes sense amid the continued strong economy and other macro factors that the school experienced another downturn this year, prompting it to discontinue the long practice of releasing application and/or acceptance rate data widely sought by MBA candidates during their application process.
If Kellogg saw another big app decline, it would hardly be an outlier: Applications to full-time MBA programs in 2021-2022 dropped just about everywhere. The other M7 schools so far to release their MBA class profiles have been the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, which saw a 14% decline in apps, and Harvard Business School, 15.4%. At Michigan Ross the loss was 9.3%; at NYU Stern, 10%. The largest-reported app decline has occurred at UCLA Anderson, which lost 20% of its total year to year.
Declines on the milder side have occurred at Duke Fuqua (6%), Georgetown McDonough (5.4%), and Virginia Darden, where they fell just 3.5%. So far one top-25 B-school, Cornell Johnson, has reported actually growing its apps this year — and by an astonishing 21%.
SOMEONE WITH A 2.6 GPA GOT INTO KELLOGG
App numbers may not be available but plenty of other data remains. Returning to GPA, Kellogg's increase two years ago to 3.70 was a jump that only four B-schools in the top 50 did better than year-to-year. Only one school — Stanford (3.78) — had a higher class score in the Class of 2023.
In another GPA wrinkle, because the Kellogg School remains one of the B-schools to report a full range of scores rather than a “middle 80%,” we know that last year Kellogg admitted one of the lowest reported GPAs, with someone gaining entry with a 2.4 (the school reported a full range of 2.4 to 4.0). This year Kellogg’s full range is 2.6-4.0 — another sign for applicants that a low GPA isn't an insurmountable hurdle.
(Only two other B-schools that report full GPA ranges have so far released their new class profiles: Dartmouth Tuck, which reports a range of 2.7-4.0; and NYU Stern, which reports its lowest score as 3.03.)
In other academic markers, Kellogg's class Graduate Management Admission Test average climbed 2 points to 729, enough to put it once again in the upper tier of B-schools but still shy of the school record 732 reported in 2017 and 2018. Kellogg’s Graduate Record Exam score slipped to 325 from 327 as its quant average dropped from 165 to 163, while its verbal average was the same at 162.