MBA Class Of 2025: 2 Years Of Declining Apps Don’t Faze Michigan Ross

MBA Class Profiles: 2 Years Of Declining Apps Don't Faze Michigan Ross

Ross Winter Garden

The numbers are trending downward — steeply. But Michigan’s business school leadership is not sounding alarms.

In 2022-2023, Michigan Ross School of Business saw another big decline in applications to its full-time MBA program, with 2,976 total apps for the cycle, down 656 apps, or around 18%, from the previous year. Looking back two years, Michigan’s MBA program has lost more than a quarter of its app volume since receiving a school-high 4,003 applications in 2020-2021.

Meanwhile, the B-school’s acceptance rate has been on a steady uphill climb, growing this year to 38% — up 10 percentage points in a year, and just over 20% from two years ago.

Cause for concern? Sure. But no one is tearing their hair out in Ann Arbor because — like their counterparts at many of the top U.S. and global business schools — they see the numbers as a correction from the coronavirus pandemic.

MICHIGAN ROSS BY THE NUMBERS: MBA CLASSES OF 2021-2025

Stats Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2025 Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2024 Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2023 Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2022 Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2021
Applications 2,976 3,632 4,003 2,567 2,990
Class Size 379 380 398 358 422
Acceptance Rate 38% 28.1% 20.2% 37.0% 31.0%
Average GMAT 719 720 722 710 719
Average GPA 3.43 3.50 3.53 3.50 3.50
Women 43% 42% 46% 43% 45%
U.S. Minorities 43% 42% 36% 36% 22%
URM 19% NA NA NA NA
First-Gen College 17% 14% 11% NA NA
LGBTQIA2S+ 10% 9% NA NA NA
International 43% 36% 28% 23% 27%
Countries 39 39 42 29 33
Backgrounds Consulting 18%, Finance 17%, Tech 16%, Health 12%, Engineering/Manufacturing 10%, Other 8%, Education/Nonprofit/Government 6%, Military 6%, Media/Hospitality/Sports 4%, Energy/Sustainability 3% Consulting 19%, Health 14%, Finance 14%, Ed/Nonprofit/Govt 11%, Tech 11%, Military 7% Consulting 23%, Ed/Nonprofit/Govt 13%, Finance 11% Consulting 22%, Finance 13%, Tech 10% Consulting 26%, Finance 16%, Tech 11%
Undergrad Major STEM 44%, Business 34%, Humanities 22% STEM 40%, Business 38%, Humanities 22% Business 42%, STEM 32%, Humanities 28% Business 42%, STEM 35%, Humanities 23% Business 42%, STEM 30%, Humanities 28%

OPTIMISM FOR THE NEW APP CYCLE NOW UNDERWAY

Matt Ganderson: “The culture at Ross is a welcoming one, where students can not only be their authentic selves but also thrive”

In 2018-2019, the last cycle completely unaffected by the Covid-19 pandemic, Michigan received 2,990 applications to its full-time MBA and admitted 31% of applicants. Covid hit at the tail end of the 2019-2020 cycle, but it had a big impact on Michigan, which reported just 2,567 total MBA applications while its admit rate ballooned to 37%. The next two years saw much bigger app numbers (and bigger classes) while the school’s acceptance rate plummeted, then rebounded.

All of which is to say that when Matt Ganderson, Michigan Ross’s full-time MBA managing director, sees the 2022-2023 data in context, it seems much less like a harbinger of doom than a correction from the weird wildness of the pandemic years. And he adds that evidence from the new 2023-2024 cycle, which is underway, suggests that calm is the correct response to the current undulations of the market.

“While we are always aware of market dynamics and are intentional about how we position our program with prospective candidates, we believe this is more of a return to pre-pandemic levels,” Ganderson tells Poets&Quants when asked about the 25.7% decline in apps to the Ross MBA over the last two cycles.

“In fact, based on our engagement with prospective candidates this year, both in-person and virtually, we are optimistic that applications for the Full-Time MBA program at Michigan Ross and across all top-tier MBA programs will show some growth versus last year.”

43%: A KEY NUMBER FOR THE NEW ROSS CLASS

Optimism about the future is one thing, but Ganderson and the rest of the Ross School leadership have plenty of reasons to be pleased with the new class, as well. And they start with the number 43.

That’s the percentage not only of women in the new MBA class, up from 42% last year, but also U.S. minorities (also up from 42%), and international students. The latter group comprised 36% of the MBA Class of 2024 that enrolled in Ann Arbor last fall.

How did the Ross School attract and enroll so many international students this year compared to previous years? The school “has always been an attractive option for students across the globe,” Ganderson says, and this year’s “greater composition of international students indicates that the Ross brand remains strong globally.”

He also points to “pent-up demand from Covid” as a reason fro the surge in foreign student enrollment.

“We view the greater international composition as a positive, as we do all forms of diversity,” Ganderson says. “This richness of different life experiences and perspectives elevates life at Ross from the classroom to co-curricular activities; in fact, faculty and student clubs this year have expressed an improved culture with this added dimension.”

BIG BOUNCE FOR ENROLLEES WITH TECH BACKGROUNDS

In another interesting twist, students with work experience in the tech industry jumped to 16% of the class from 11% last fall, which is about the level it had been for four years. The reason: In an appeal to tech workers laid off in waves over the last two years, Ross added a fourth application round with a May 1 deadline. The jump in techies also helps to explain the rise in MBA students whose undergraduate major was in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field. STEM is now the biggest undergrad major in the class at 44%, up from 40% last year and just 30% in the class that enrolled in 2019.

The Ross School’s improvements in diversity extend also to the military veterans in the class, which grew to 8%, from 7% last year and 5% in 2021; first-generation college students, who account for 17% of the class, up from 14% last year and 11% in 2021; and LGBTQ students, who are now 10% of the class from 9% in 2022.

“We are pleased with strengthening the quality of our applicant pool and have not seen a significant change in terms of candidate backgrounds or undergraduate majors. But what has evolved over the years is applicants’ ability to better articulate the impact they want to make at and beyond Michigan Ross, which aligns with our mission,” Ganderson says. “Specifically, what excites us here at Michigan Ross is the record representation of first-generation students, veterans, and those who identify as LGBTQIA2S+ with the incoming class.

“Much credit is due to our current students and alumni who engage with prospective candidates and share their stories and experiences. The culture at Ross is a welcoming one, where students can not only be their authentic selves but also thrive.”

DON’T MISS MICHIGAN ROSS FINDS A NEW MBA DIRECTOR AT WAKE FOREST and LAST YEAR’S MICHIGAN ROSS MBA CLASS PROFILE STORY FROM P&Q

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