Average GMAT Scores At The Top U.S. MBA Programs

Many of the top MBA programs in the United States had great admissions cycles leading to the enrollment of the Class of 2024, especially in the area of test score averages. None had a better year than USC Marshall School of Business.

The Marshall School enrolled an MBA class with a 732 average Graduate Management Admission Test score, up 16 points from the score reported for the Class of 2021. In fact, Marshall had a great 2021, too — in the two classes that have enrolled since 2020, the Southern California B-school has seen its GMAT average jump an incredible 25 points.

The massive jump in a stat that still commands a great deal of attention from admissions teams and prospective B-school students alike put the Marshall School in the company of many of the biggest names in graduate business education — and ahead of several others. Its 732 average was the third-largest reported in 2022, behind only Stanford Graduate School of Business, which dropped a point from last year but still led all B-schools in the 2022 Poets&Quants ranking with a 737 average, and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and NYU Stern School of Business, which tied at 733.

MARSHALL'S SECRET? 'MORE HIGH-QUALITY APPLICANTS'

After its one-year, 16-point jump, USC Marshall's GMAT average was better than four B-schools that tied at 729 this year, including three of the M7 schools: Chicago Booth School of Business, Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, Columbia Business School, and UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business. It was even better than the median score of 730 reported by two other M7 programs: Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan School of Management. (See the next page for data across six years for all the top U.S. B-schools.)

How did Marshall do it? Evan Bouffides, assistant dean and director of graduate admissions, credits a combination of factors.

“First and foremost, Marshall has experienced significant upward momentum over the past six years on many fronts," Bouffides tells Poets&Quants, "including the quality and quantity of the applicant pools, curriculum innovation, the strength of our career outcomes, and a subsequent rise in rankings. This year’s applicant pool is an extension of that trend.

"As we have continued to attract more high-quality applicants, improvement in admissions metrics has naturally occurred. Therefore, the rise, if not the degree of the rise, was not entirely unexpected.”

2021 HAS THE EDGE OVER 2022 AS A BANNER GMAT YEAR

2021 was the best year for GMAT average growth in many years, and 2022 did not quite match it. Twelve of 27 MBA programs examined by P&Q saw increases this year, compared to an incredible 23 of 26 programs in 2021. But 2022 was, nonetheless, overall a very good year for takers of the primary entrance exam for MBA programs, with 11 B-schools reporting school records (down from 15 last year). Average score growth across the dozen schools with gains was 5.3 points; last year, at nearly two dozen, it was 8.7 points.

Three schools — Marshall, Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business, and UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School — saw double-digit year-over-year increases in their class score average; last year a remarkable 11 schools could claim that distinction. Three schools were even in 2022, and six schools saw declines; the biggest was at Georgetown McDonough School of Business, which dropped 8 points to fall out of the 700 club and land at 697. For perspective, in 2021 only one school out of 26 reported a year-to-year GMAT average decline — and that was by only a single point.

2022 did, however, have one statistical edge over its predecessor: The overall average GMAT score at 22 schools  this year (excluding those that report only median scores) is 714.7 — higher than the 712.3 at 23 schools in 2021. And interestingly, the number of schools with a 700+ GMAT average is the same in both years: 18 — again, not counting schools that report medians. In 2021, three schools reported a median over 700; this year five did so.

SINCE 2020, INDIANA KELLEY'S CLASS GMAT GREW 33 POINTS

Take the big GMAT jumps of 2021 and the midsized jumps of 2022 together with the scores from the first year of the pandemic and you find some interesting wrinkles. In the three-year window since 2020, the number of schools with GMAT increases was 24; 13 B-schools had double-digit increases. The average increase among those 24 schools was a whopping 10.2 points. Not one school went backward by losing points.

The school with the biggest GMAT score increase from 2020 to today: Indiana Kelley School of Business, where the class average jumped 33 points to 685 — which is still the lowest average among the 27 schools examined this year. USC Marshall's 25-point jump is second-largest, and CMU Tepper's 22 points, up to a 702 average, is third.

Since 2017, 15 B-schools have seen overall GMAT average increases, six by double digits. The average gain has been just shy of 10 points (9.8). USC Marshall leads all schools in that six-year span with 29 points gained, followed by NYU Stern (19 points to 733) and Emory Goizueta Business School (18 points to 700). Five schools today are below where they started six years ago; the biggest deficit is at Rice Jones Graduate School of Business, which lost 9 points to land at 702 in 2022.

See the next page for six years of GMAT data for 27 of the top U.S. B-schools.

AND DON’T MISS LAST YEAR'S P&Q STORY ON THE EXPLOSIVE SCORES OF THE MBA CLASS OF 2021 and WOW! USC MARSHALL'S NEW MBA CLASS REPORTS A 732 GMAT

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