Few business schools in the United States have avoided the MBA application downturn that is a result of a strong jobs market. Put another top school in the deficit camp: The University of Chicago Booth School of Business released its full-time MBA Class of 2024 profile over the weekend showing apps were down 685 in 2021-2022, to 4,352, a 13.6% decline from a school-record 5,037 apps in the previous cycle.
However, despite receiving so many fewer applications, the Booth School kept its class size the same for the third straight year, at 621. Like many B-schools, Booth expanded its class in the pandemic year of 2020; unlike some of its peers, Booth seems to have no plans to reduce its class size despite the transition back to in-person instruction.
Booth also reports a decline in average Graduate Management Admission Test score, to 729 from 732, with a range of scores from 600 to 780. Undergraduate grade point average stayed the same at 3.60, with a range of 2.4 to 4.0. Last year, someone with a 590 GMAT gained admission to Booth, while another student was admitted with a 2.7 GPA. As the school says in the new profile, “There’s only one standard educational background that leads to an MBA, right? Wrong. Our MBA program attracts students from all academic backgrounds.”
BOOTH JOINS MOST TOP U.S. B-SCHOOLS IN REPORTING AN APP DECLINE
In 2020-2021, Booth — like 18 other top-25 B-schools in the United States — saw an increase in MBA applications; unlike most other schools, it was the third year in a row that apps grew at Booth. But though it pushed Booth into school-record territory, to more than 5,300, it was a mild increase of 2.6% after drawing more than 4,900 (a 10% increase) in 2019-2020 — perhaps presaging the downturn Booth experienced in 2021-2022.
Booth is hardly alone in reporting falling apps, which dropped for full-time MBA programs just about everywhere in the U.S. The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania saw a 14% decline, and Harvard Business School was down 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%.
WOMEN DECLINE BUT STILL AT 40%
In its new class profile, Booth also reports a decline in women, to 40% from a school-record 42% last year. Twice previously Booth has reached 42% only to slip the following year (see table above), but at 40%, Booth remains among the schools at 40% or more women, a group that last year included all but one of the top 10 B-schools in the U.S.
However, Booth's diversity was amplified by an increase this year in U.S. minorities, to 48% from 44%, and in under-represented minorities, to 19% from 12%. The class is composed of 8% veterans and 7% LGBTQ.
Few significant changes can be found in the new class's undergrad majors. The class comes from 264 undergrad institutions, up from 262 last year. Last year, 27.4% had a business degree, 23.8% an engineering degree, and 23.5% an economics degree. Liberal arts (11.6%) and physical sciences (8.6%) both shrank, as did the proportion who already hold graduate degrees (16%). This year, 25% apiece come to Booth with a business or economics degree, and 24% with an engineering degree; liberal arts is up to 13%, while physical sciences was flat at 9%. Seventeen percent of the class already have graduate degrees.
For pre-MBA industries, last year consulting dominated (as it usually does) at 23%, followed by finance (20%, plus 7% in private equity/venture capital), "other" (13%), tech (12%), nonprofit/government (11%), healthcare (5%), consumer products (4%), energy (3%), and manufacturing (2%). This year: consulting is again tops, at 25% of the class, and finance is second at 19% (plus 5% for PE/VC). Techies comprise 13% of the class, "other" was 12%, while nonprofit/government folks are 11%. Healthcare grew to 6%, followed by energy (4%), accounting (2%), consumer products (2%), and manufacturing (1%).