Once upon a time, Yale SOM was known as a school that churned out MBAs to NGOs and the social sector. These days, that ethical backbone is still present, but as the $243m Foster + Partners-designed centrepiece building, the Edward P. Evans Hall, suggests, the world of Yale has moved on a bit.
That’s not to suggest that Yale has forgotten its ethos. Not at all. Its motto is that it is “educating leaders for business and society,” with a focus on using business to change the world for the better. That means preparing people who can thrive in a complex world where, as they say, “sectors, regions, and cultures intersect in an increasingly connected world.”
And Yale SOM students are right in the thick of the business world. Of the most recent cohort, 20% of students came from a consulting background, with the same figure for financial services and nonprofits and government combined. The average self-reported salary three years after graduation was $173,000, according to Financial Times figures, putting Yale’s alumni earning power on a par with graduates from Tuck and above those from Kellogg and London Business School. Incidentally, the school’s MBA was ranked 11th in both the FT and Bloomberg Businessweek’s most recent rankings, and 9th in U.S. News’.
One of Yale’s SOM’s USPs is that it makes a big effort to make use of faculty from all over the university to teach courses. Even better, academics from different disciplines often teach sessions together, in order to bring in perspectives from various points of view. And when it comes to electives, Yale SOM students have the opportunity — rare, even in business schools embedded in world-class universities — to take as many as they like from other schools and departments at Yale.
They take advantage of this amazing opportunity, too. In recent years, MBA candidates have taken perspective-broadening courses in the likes of Native American Art and Architecture, and Faith and Globalization. Those studying for an MBA also have to fulfill a “Leadership Distribution Requirement” by taking at least one elective that focuses on leadership in a particular industry, or that looks at a major ethical and societal challenge.
Another way this school stands out from the crowd is in its approach to case studies. Yale SOM has moved well beyond the conventional case-based style of teaching, and employs a whole team of people both at Yale and in the wider GNAM network of over 30 international schools to put together its unique “raw” cases. Rather than tidy, paper-based cases, students are presented with a mass of information in a number of media such as video, news reports, interviews, and data. There is, by design, too much for any individual to absorb, meaning that students are forced to work in teams to create a coherent analysis. The point, of course, is to mimic the way information presents itself, and the way people make decisions, in the real world.
Of course, part of this focused teamwork is the idea of leadership, which is also central to Yale’s MBA. At Yale SOM they look at developing leadership in four dimensions: individual, which involves developing skills and knowledge, but also understanding your own strengths and limitations and ways to persuade and influence others; working in, and leading, teams; seeing an organization as a whole, rather than broken down by geography or function; and being aware of global challenges like inequality and climate change.
The logical extension of this focus on understanding the big picture is Yale SOM’s internationalism. It was the founder of GNAM, and its MBA candidates are encouraged to foster a global perspective by travelling to partner schools for courses. For instance, students have visited IE Business School in Madrid for a course on the euro crisis, and Renmin University Business School in China to learn about entrepreneurship in emerging markets. And, if they like, Yale students can take courses in languages or international relations.
A truly diverse cohort, plus world-class education, means that this MBA is worth a look for anyone looking for an experience that is out of the ordinary.
A LOOK BACK
When Edward “Ted” Snyder took over as dean of the Yale School of Management in 2011, expectations soared. And for good reason. Snyder was essentially a miracle worker during his decade-long stint at Chicago’s Booth School–catapulting the school into a world B-school power. Nearly five full years into the job at the SOM and Snyder has somehow surpassed those lofty expectations.
The stats speak for themselves. The SOM’s entering class size for the full-time MBA program has leapt from 231 when Snyder took over to 326 this past fall. Average GMAT for the entering class of 2015 was 721–two full points higher than 2014. Meantime, the acceptance rate dropped three full percentage points to 20.7% during the same timeframe. All the while, the school has been inching up in the rankings and jumped back into the top 10 in the most recent edition of the U.S. News rankings.
Snyder has also focused on diversity. Some 10% of classes at the SOM are reserved for students outside of the school. Not to mention, he has tapped into the global resources of the larger university to increase international presence within the SOM. To top of the global emphasis of the greater B-school community, Snyder and the SOM created the Global Network for Advanced Management in 2012 to link top B-schools around the world. Four years later, the network now has 22 of the world’s most elite B-schools.
“We had a big global brand at the university level, but not at the school level,” Snyder told Poets&Quants at the end of 2015, when he was named Dean of the Year. “The organizing idea was to move us as far away as possible from a standalone business school. Being at Yale made that relatively easy, and that was the big idea coming in.”
Applicants noticed the improvements. In 2014, applications jumped nearly 25% and through Round One of this year’s application cycle, applications turbocharged another 29%. Internationally speaking, applicants from Global Network Countries have jumped a whopping 51.6% from 2012 to 2015.
Of course, Snyder and the global emphasis have also altered curriculum for full-time MBAs. All full-time MBAs are required to take Global Virtual Teams, a first-year course that focuses on team dynamics and then places Yale students on teams with other students at partner schools in Mexico and France. Students learn to work across countries, cultures, and languages.
Other recent changes include a Leadership Development Program–required for all master’s students, growing the number of entrepreneurship courses to about a dozen and increases in dual degrees and partnerships across schools at Yale. The SOM offers what is probably one of the only dual degrees with a School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
And employers are taking notice of the changes at the SOM, too. Once thought of a B-school that produces primarily social sector MBAs, the SOM has managed to maintain some of that social integrity while also producing graduates taking high pay private sector positions. For the graduating class of 2015, the median salary was $120,000–up $10,000 from the previous year’s class. What’s more, 96.4% of the class had received a job offer within three months of graduating. “We are closing the gap with the best schools on employment,” Snyder says.
Clearly, the Yale SOM is trending among pretty much all key stakeholders in the MBA world. Applicants are taking notice, academics are taking notice and employers are taking notice. It will be intriguing to see just how far the school can leverage its current upwards momentum.
From 2011 to 2013, Yale SOM slipped from 13th to 17th in the Poets&Quants‘ composite rankings. The school has more than rebounded to 12th in 2014 and 10th in 2015. In the volatile Businessweek rankings, the school surprisingly maintained a consistent ranking of 21st for 2011 through 2013 before surging to sixth in 2014 and settling back to 11th in 2015. Over the past five years, Yale SOM has for the most part steadily climbed in the reputable rankings.
MBA Program Consideration Set:
Stretch Schools: Columbia, Dartmouth, Northwestern’s Kellogg School, MIT Sloan, Berkeley
Match Schools: New York University, Virginia, Duke, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon
Safe Schools: UCLA, North Carolina, Texas at Austin, Emory
Yale SOM does not publish in its employment report its top employers, preferring to list all of the firms that hired the school’s graduates.
Note: MBA Program Consideration Set: If you believe you’re a close match to this school–based on your GMAT and GPA scores, your age and work experience, you should look at these other competitive full-time MBA programs as well. We list them by stretch, match and safety. These options are presented on the basis of brand image and ranking status as a general guideline.