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Be sure to read my Key Posts on the admissions process. Topics include essay analysis, resumes, recommendations, rankings, and more.

June 21, 2008

Ranking "TOP 20" MBA Programs by Acceptance Rate

Click here for all of my rankings tables together in one post.

For the 3rd in my series of MBA rankings, I asked myself the following: HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO GET ADMITTED TO THE 54 "TOP 20" MBA PROGRAMS WORLDWIDE?

After ranking programs by starting salary ("The 98") and ranking them by average of their Top 20 ranking, I wanted to look at actual acceptance rates. For 39 of the 54 "Top 20" programs I was able to obtain their rates of acceptance rates from US News and World Report(US programs except Northwestern, which I took from Businessweek) and Businessweek (non-US programs). For the other 15, I looked elsewhere, but came up with nothing (If I missed admissions data somewhere, please let me know.)

Here is what I put together (The pretty JPEG version is below):

RANK ------------------------ BUSINESS SCHOOL
1. Acceptance Rate: 7.90% Stanford University GSB
2. Acceptance Rate:13.70% UC Berkeley: Haas
3. Acceptance Rate:13.80% Harvard Business School
4. Acceptance Rate:14.70% Yale School of Management
5. Acceptance Rate:16.30% Columbia Business School
6. Acceptance Rate:17.10% New York University: Stern
7. Acceptance Rate:17.30% U. of Pennsylvania: Wharton
8. Acceptance Rate:19.20% Dartmouth College: Tuck
9. Acceptance Rate:19.70% MIT: Sloan
10. Acceptance Rate: 20% HEC Paris, France
11. Acceptance Rate: 20.40% U. of Michigan: Ross
12. Acceptance Rate: 23.30% U. of Chicago GSB
13. Acceptance Rate: 23.40% UCLA: Anderson
14. Acceptance Rate: 24% IESE Business School
14. Acceptance Rate: 24% Northwestern U.: Kellogg
16. Acceptance Rate: 26% IE Business School
17. Acceptance Rate: 26.70% Cornell University: Johnson
18. Acceptance Rate: 28% IMD
19. Acceptance Rate: 28.90% U. of Virginia: Darden
20. Acceptance Rate: 29.00% York University: Schulich
21. Acceptance Rate: 29% USC: Marshall
22. Acceptance Rate: 29.60% Michigan State: Broad
23. Acceptance Rate: 29.80% Carnegie Mellon: Tepper, US
24. Acceptance Rate: 31.50% Duke University: Fuqua
25. Acceptance Rate: 33% McGill
26. Acceptance Rate: 34% U. of TX at Austin: McCombs
27. Acceptance Rate: 34.40% Indiana University: Kelley
28. Acceptance Rate: 37% SDA Bocconi Italy
29. Acceptance Rate: 39.20% UNC: Kenan-Flagler
30. Acceptance Rate: 42% U. of Toronto: Rotman
31. Acceptance Rate: 48% ESADE Business School
32. Acceptance Rate: 49.80% U. of Iowa: Tippie
33. Acceptance Rate: 53% Brigham Young: Marriot
34. Acceptance Rate: 54% UBC: Sauder
35. Acceptance Rate: 56% Cranfield S. of Management
36. Acceptance Rate: 59% RSM Erasmus University
37. Acceptance Rate: 62% HEC Montreal, Canada
38. Acceptance Rate: 65% Queen's School of Business
39. Acceptance Rate: 72.30% Thunderbird

I could not obtain acceptance rates for AGSM, Ashridge, CEIBS, City University: Cass, EGADE, ESSEC, Henley Business School, Hong Kong UST Bus. School, Indian School of Business, INSEAD, IPADE, Lancaster U, Mngt. School, London Business School, Manchester Business School, U. of Cambridge: Judge, U. of Oxford : Said, and U. of Western Ontario: Ivey. If any of these programs actually provide such data, I would be happy to correct this ranking.

Since I wanted to compare difficulty of admission to averaged top twenty ranking and post-MBA salary, I prepared the following table(Click to enlarge it):
So what does my ranking by difficulty reveal? I think it helps to see the real variation that exists between the difficulty for admission at "Top 20" programs. I have read of fear mongers who would suggest the rate of admission for top programs is around 10%, but with the exception of Stanford GSB, this is not the case. Even Berkeley Haas (A tuition bargain for those paying in-state tuition in California) and HBS (with 88% yield, see my post on Columbia Early Decision regarding this.) have rates of admission over 13%. The reality is that many of the programs that consistently rank "Top 20" have something in the 15% to 25% rate of acceptance. Some programs are not particularly difficult to enter with rates approaching or exceeding 50%.

Keep in mind that difficulty of admission cannot simply be measured by acceptance rate. After all those who apply to a program are self-selecting and the programs can impact who even applies. Stated GPA, TOEFL, IELTS, GMAT, and work experience minimums or age maximums/maximums can significantly reduce the number of applications a school receives: Why apply if you have been told that you will not be considered? Similarly, if a program has no specific minimums and appears open to all applicants, it would be logical to assume that it will receive many applications.

Also keep in mind for the programs where I could not get data, you can't make the assumption that they are easy to enter. That would most certainly be wrong with schools like INSEAD and LBS. I am not sure why these schools are transparent about their rates of admission. I can't imagine that their reputations would be damaged by releasing this information. One would hope that they would want applicants to be able to make fully informed decisions. Certainly, knowing how difficult a school is to enter is one key way to measure that.

Finally, I think it is valuable to use acceptance rate data to determine the level of risk of rejection one is willing to take when applying to B-school. See my "School Application Selection Strategy Based on Salary Approach." That approach is based on using acceptance rate data in combination with post-MBA salary ranking to come up with an optimal set of schools to apply to. Using the table above, I have made it easy to compare acceptance, post-MBA, and averaged "Top 20" ranking for the purpose of school application selection. For those who review my other posts on school selection, it should become clear that I do not consider such a purely quantitative approach to be sufficient, but I do think it is important to incorporate a real consideration of the numbers (rates of admission, yield, post-MBA salary, ROI) when determining where to apply to and where to go.

Comments? Questions? Write comments or contact me directly at adammarkus@gmail.com. Please see my FAQ regarding the types of questions I will respond to.

-Adam Markus
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