‘The Window’ Closes: Acceptance Rate Across The Top 50 US MBA Programs | Biden News


Acceptance rates and class sizes shrink in 2021 at most of the top B schools in the US, while results are improving

The Covid-19 pandemic offers applicants a slightly better chance of getting into affordable schools.

The window now appears to be closed.

The conclusion is hard to avoid. Acceptance rate, yield, acceptance and class size data from the latest release of 2023 US News & World Report US MBA program rankings show that in the top 52 business schools, 35 increased their selectivity—including 21 of the top 25—because most accepted fewer applicants and shrank their class sizes.

In response to the increasing difficulty of securing coveted places in mainstream programs, the percentage of admissions enrolling in schools that accept them—results—rises in nearly all of the top schools. Forty-five schools experienced improved outcomes, including eight of the top 10, a year after 44 schools — including 23 of the top 25 — reported declining outcomes. This year, 18 of the 51 schools saw double-digit yield increases.


The lowest acceptance rate in 2021 – and one of the lowest on record – is, unsurprisingly, at the Stanford Graduate School go Business, which accepted just 6.2% of applicants last year, down from 7.2% in 2020. Nearly all those lucky enough to get into Stanford jumped at the chance, as reflected in the school’s astronomy results: the school’s record high rate, 93.6%, up from 82.3% the previous year.

Following Stanford in acceptance rates are MIT Sloan School of Management at 12.1%, Harvard Business School at 12.5%, Columbia Business School at 15.7%, and UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business at 17.6%. Overall, 10 schools reported acceptance rates below 20% (compared to just four schools in 2020), and 27 schools under 30% (compared to 18).

Highest acceptance rate in Poets & Quantity The top 10 are at Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business, at 29.5%; the highest in the top 25 was at Georgetown McDonough School of Business, at 48.1%, although Emory’s Goizueta Business School, ranked 26, was higher at 53.1%. Across the 52 schools we examined for this story, the Fordham Gabelli School of Business, ranked No. 51, had the highest acceptance rate, at 67.1%; Brigham Young Marriott School of Business has the highest for the top 50 schools, at 60.7%, followed by Eccles School of Business Utah (57.6%) and Miami Herbert Business School (57.3%). The lowest rate in the bottom 25 is at Arizona State WP Carey School of Business, at 16.8%, followed by Penn State Smeal College of Business (18.6%) and Rochester Simon Business School (21.9%)

Boston University’s Questrom School of Business saw the biggest drop in acceptance rates, dropping 17.4 percentage points from 51.3% to 33.9%. In the top 25, Michigan Ross School of Business saw the most significant decline, dropping 16.8 points to 20.2% — one year after experiencing the biggest jump of any school.

See next page for complete data on acceptance rates, results, applications, admissions & class sizes across the 50 leading MBA programs in the United States.


In the top 10 schools, which includes the vaunted M7 schools, applications slowed but continued to increase while other measures returned to a more normal state. The average acceptance rate across 10 countries fell to 18.4% from a pandemic high of 22.3% in 2020, lower than 2019 but still higher than 2018 and much higher than 2016, before the first rumble of app slumps started worrying adcoms. throughout graduate business education.

The worries are over, and the elite schools are narrowing the path of entry. Cumulatively, they reduced their number of admissions by more than 16%, to less than 10,000 from more than 11,000 in 2020. Stanford admits nearly 200 fewer; Harvard nearly 400; MIT is over 500. Enrollments are also down, though not so dramatically.

Sensing the window closing, admitting to saying “yes” more often, raised the collective yield in the top 10 by 18.5%, although it’s still down more than 11% since its peak of 64.9% in 2018. See above for details.


Results are a funny thing. The school doesn’t like to talk about it, and US News does not report it in its annual ranking data. But it’s a good measure of the state of affairs in graduate business education. A high result means the school can enroll the students it wants; low yields mean they have chosen to go elsewhere, or go nowhere.

After Stanford’s astronomical results of 93.6%, the next highs in 2021 will be BYU Marriott at 84.4%, Harvard at 82.7%, and the Alabama Manderson Graduate School of Business at 81.8%. Both Marriott and Manderson have unique programs: BYU is affiliated with the LDS church and leads Utah’s self-growing talent, while Alabama has a STEM pathway program that funnels students from undergraduate to MBA rank. Harvard — well, this is Harvard.

In addition to the four schools with results above 80%, five other schools were above 70%, and nine were above 60%. Twenty schools out of 52 are in the top 50%. In 2020, that last number is only 10.

The lowest score in the top 10 was at the Yale School of Management (38.2%), and the lowest in the top 25 was at the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management (35.7%). Across the top 50, Emory Goizueta, at No. 26, was the lowest at 34%, with the Maryland Smith School of Business behind at 34.2%.

While the largest increase in outcomes at any school occurred at Stanford, which increased outcomes by 26.6 percentage points in one year, the largest decline occurred at the University of Georgia Terry College of Business, which fell to 48.4% from 56.2%.


Class sizes are shrinking year over year in most schools, growing only 22 out of 50 (compared to 28 out of 49 in 2020), but they have grown at most the top 50 schools since 2019. Blame the effects of Covid again: Last two years, only 11 schools out of 49 are below their class size from 2019, while 33 are up and two are exactly the same. The biggest declines at that time were at Columbia Business School, which lost 140 seats; last year CBS lost even more, rising from 782 to 614 seats. Also noteworthy: Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business dropped 50 seats over two years, to just 65 by 2021.

Many schools have increased enrollment, of course: the Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business more than doubled the size of the MBA from 40 to 82 in one year, and Harvard, after enrolling its smallest class ever in 2020, made up for the big drop-off and then some, surpassed the 2019 measure by registering the only class of over 1,000 in the top 50 rankings. Also of note is that over the past three years, Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business has increased its cohort by 71 seats, to 178. (See page 5 for further enrollment data.)

And the smallest class? In the top 10, that distinction belongs to Berkeley Haas, with 291 students enrolled in 2021 (with Dartmouth Tuck behind at 294); in the top 25, the Washington Foster School of Business is the smallest with 126 MBA students; and in the top 50, Florida Warrington College of Business has just 26 students in its fall 2021 cohort. Incredibly small? Yes, but small in itself is unusual: 20 schools out of 51 have less than 100 in their MBA.

See next page for complete data on acceptance rates, results, applications, admissions & class sizes across the 50 leading MBA programs in the United States.


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