Selectivity rate at the top business schools

Acceptance rates for the best MBA programs in USA, UK, Europe

Ever wondered why the selectivity rate is so tight at the top business schools?

Don’t be surprised by the fact that MBA applicants with exceptional profiles and high GMAT scores are being rejected by schools like Harvard and Stanford. A lot of such highly deserving candidates with stellar applications get dinged without even being able to make it to the interview round.

These popular top-notch business schools attract the choicest applicant pool. In fact, according to Poets & Quants, admission officials at the top MBA programs admit that as many as 80% of those who apply are fully qualified to attend and successfully complete an MBA program. However, due to intake restrictions and the huge number of applications they receive, these schools need to be selective in the admissions process and hence have a low selectivity rate.

Though most applicants are likely to apply to at least a few top MBA programs, only a select few are able to make it to these prestigious business schools. The selectivity index may be used for reference while applying. It would help to gain clarity about which programs are easier to get into and which are not.

The lower the selectivity rate, the more difficult it is to get in and vice-versa.

Using data provided by Poets & Quants for the year 2017 as reference, we’ve listed down the selectivity rate at the MBA programs according to geography.

Selectivity rate for top MBA in USA

The USA has the highest number of world-class MBA programs including schools that belong to the Ivy League. More than 50% of the programs in the global MBA rankings, provided by the top publications like The Financial Times, The Economist and The QS Global 200 Business Schools, are from USA.

Here’s the selectivity rate table for the top US MBA programs.

Business School Selectivity Rate
Harvard 11%
Stanford 6%
Wharton 19.2%
Chicago Booth 20.8%
Columbia 16.5%
Northwestern Kellogg 20.2%
Dartmouth Tuck 23%
MIT Sloan 11.5%
Duke Fuqua 22%
Michigan Ross 25%
Yale 17.4%
Cornell Johnson 30%
Berkeley Haas 12%
Virginia Darden 24.5%
NYU Stern 21%
UCLA Anderson 22%
CMU Tepper 29.5%
Washington Foster 22%
UT Austin McCombs 28%
Rice Jones 27%
Indiana Kelley 35%
UNC Kenan-Flagler 37%
Notre Dame Mendoza 42%
Emory Goizueta 40.8%
Penn State Smeal 20.4%
Vanderbilt Owen 43%
Maryland Smith 36.2%
Georgetown McDonough 47.8%
USC Marshall 29%
Ohio State Fisher 37%

Stanford has consistently had a low acceptance rate, followed by Harvard and then MIT. For the top 20-25 programs, the selectivity rate has remained under 30%.

A lot of US schools reported a reduced number of applications for their 2017 entry, mainly due to the reduced interest from international applicants because of the changes in immigration policies. However the number of applications received at the top elite schools still showed a rise in numbers.

The Harvard Crimson reported that HBS (Harvard Business School) received 9,886 applications for its two-year MBA program for the class of 2020. This number was lower than the number of applications received in the previous year (10,351). Despite this, its acceptance rate remained the same at 11%. It also stated that Stanford University which has the highest selectivity rate would not report its acceptance rate from fall 2018 onwards. They did not want the low acceptance rate to be a deterrent for prospective MBA applicant who may hesitate to apply due to the low selectivity.

We can conclude that for the top few US schools, the acceptance rate has hardly changed over the years. It has more or less remained constant or may have gone slightly down in some cases. So, the competition to get into these top brands has always been stiff.

However for the mid-tier schools, the selectivity rate ranges from 35% to 50%. One out of every two or three applicant stands a chance of being admitted, so the prospects of getting in look brighter.

Increase in applications outside the USA

According to GMAC 2018 Application Trends Survey Report, most graduate business programs reported an increase in applications this year. In Asia Pacific, applications went up for 67% of the programs, in Canada, 62% of the programs reported an increase in application volume, while for Europe, it was 61%.

On the other hand, 70% of the two-year US MBA programs faced a reduction in application volume.

For Europe and Canada, this rise in volume was due to international applicants while for Asia-Pacific, it was due to the rise in domestic demand.

Selectivity rates for MBA in Europe and UK

Most of the MBA programs here have around one year duration. The lower cost of the programs (due to the shorter duration) and the reputed brand names of the top programs make them an attractive option. However, some of these programs require a slightly higher work experience than the US MBA programs, so you need to do your research to find the right MBA program where you fit in well and the one that will ultimately help you attain your career goals.

Here’s the selectivity rate table for the MBA programs at the top European and UK business schools.

Business School Selectivity Rate
INSEAD 31.5%*
London Business School 32.80%
Cambridge Judge 33.5%
Oxford Said 35.4%
HEC Paris 17.50%
IMD 28.80%
Manchester Business School 29.10%
ESADE 35.60%
IESE Business School 26.4%
Mannheim 16.60%
SDA Bocconi 37.90%
ESMT Berlin 47.8%
IE Business School 38.0%
Warwick 55.0%

Manheim Business School in Germany and HEC Paris have the lowest selectivity rate at 16.6% and 17.5% respectively. Acceptance rate at IMD Switzerland and Manchester Business School goes up at 28.8% and 29.10% respectively. Top schools including INSEAD, London Business School, Cambridge Judge and Oxford Said have a higher acceptance rate in the range of 30%-35%.

Finally, you can’t just rely on the selectivity index to decide whether you are likely to get into a particular school or not.

Begin working on your application early so that you have enough time for multiple GMAT attempts if needed. Have someone review your essays. Having a second set of eyes run through your essays can surely help you gain fresh perspectives. With a good GMAT score and a well -crafted application, you can make sure the odds of getting in are in your favour. Again, make it a point to apply in the earlier round to maximise your chances of being accepted.
Also read Undergraduate Business School Acceptance Rates

How to improve your chances of being selected?

Working independently can involved a lot of trial and error. Which is why many applicants to these highly selective programs hire top admissions consultants like MBA Crystal Ball to help them improve their chances. Read these MBA admissions blogs for inspiration.

Send us an email if you’re serious about getting into any of these tough selectivity programs, and our consultants will help you make your application stronger. Our email ID is: info [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com
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