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Acceptance Rates for US MBA Programs Drop to 14.5% in 2016

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Acceptance rates for MBA programs in 2016 dropped to their lowest level in five years at the top 15 US business schools and with an admit rate of just 14.5% , for the first time, the overall admit rate at the top 10 schools fell below 15%.

Applications to the top ten programs rose by 4.4% to 54,694 but only 5,100 seats were available at the schools.

However, even as aspirants find it tougher to get into a highly ranked MBA program in the 25 top ranked schools, their chances improve slightly in the next 25 schools.

MIT Sloan, Cornell Johnson, UC-Berkeley Haas, the University of Texas’ McCombs, and Duke Fuqua were among the15-odd schools that recorded lower acceptance rates than the previous year, with significantly tougher admission standards.

MIT Sloan, Cornell Johnson, UC-Berkeley Haas, the University of Texas’ McCombs, and Duke Fuqua were among the15-odd schools that recorded lower acceptance rates than the previous year, with significantly tougher admission standards.

In the group ranked 26th through 50th, only eight schools reported lower admits rates, including W. P. Carey School, Boston College’s Carroll, and Rochester University’s Simon School of Business. Six schools saw double-digit plunges in their application volume.

Five years ago in 2012, the acceptance rate for a top ten program was 17.0%. The schools till 25th rank received 54,694 applications in 2015-16, up 4.4% over a year earlier when a total 52,384 applications were received.

Among the reasons for rise in the number of applications, according to Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted.com, are the schools simplifying their applications including lesser number of essays.

While applicants could include more schools in their list, on the flip side, the acceptance rates drop leading to a situation where the candidates are forced to apply to still more schools while acceptance rates plunge further.

Another factor is the applicants’ preference for top ranked schools. MIT Sloan saw increased number of applicants after the school decided to go with only one essay question, with a second required short-answer question if candidates moved forward to the interview stage. It also extended the final deadline for admissions from January 8 to April 11.

However, Columbia Business School and Chicago Booth recorded a fall in the number of applicants. The drop was 5.1% to 5,534 at CBS and 3.9% to 4,117 at Booth. Yet, acceptance rates at Booth fell slightly to 23.6% from 24.4% in the previous year. At Columbia, it fell to 14.1% from 18.0% a year earlier.

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Admission consultants cite two factors behind Columbia’s higher yield—increase in scholarship support and the accelerated 16-month MBA program that starts in January.

Among the losers in the 2-year full time MBA programs were the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that saw a 35.4% fall in applications, Purdue University’s Krannert School 29.5% and UC-Irvine’s Merage School of Business recording 20.3% drop.

Among the gainers were ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business and MIT’s Sloan School of Management. Carey with an offer of full-tuition scholarships to every admit (http://www.twoyearmbaworld.com/2017/02/24/believe-it-or-not-an-mba-program-sans-tuition-fees/), Carey saw its applications balloon by 161.6% last year to 1,159 from 443 in the previous year.

This ‘disruptive business model’ enabled the school to bring down its acceptance rate to 14.3%, roughly on par with Columbia Business School.

Easing of the application process and adding a third application round was MIT Sloan record a 34.2% increase in applications. It brought down the school’s admit rate to 11.7%, from 14.6% in the previous year to rank third in the lowest acceptance rate for an MBA program globally.

Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, with 6.0% from 6.1% a year and Harvard Business School, which maintained its 10.7% acceptance rate, were ranked higher.

UC-Berkeley recorded 12.0%, Columbia 14.1%, Carey 14.3%, the University of Florida 16.0%, Penn State 18.1%, and Yale’s School of Management at 19.0%.

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