This year’s MBA Selectivity Index™ is here!
Four years ago, Accepted developed the MBA Selectivity Index to help you apply realistically and effectively to business school. The index takes the most recent U.S. News rankings data and reflects the schools’ average GPA, test scores, and acceptance rates so that you can assess the relative difficulty of acceptance. You can also order the schools by average test score, GPA, or acceptance rate.
We chose to focus on these key metrics not because they are solely determinative (because they are not), but because they do illustrate how difficult it is to gain acceptance to a school. These particular metrics also suggest which schools may be focusing on a certain aspect of an applicant’s profile and which may not.
Average GMAT and GPA for top MBA programs
Here are some stats we found when analyzing the U.S. News data this year:
- Stanford GSB is #1 on the Selectivity Index again (and #1 on the U.S. News rankings, up from second place last year) and again has the highest GPA (3.7) and the lowest acceptance rate (6.9%) of all schools on the list. Plus, this year, it regained its first-place spot for for the highest average GMAT score (734, up from 732 last year). Columbia, which last year had the highest average GMAT is now tied with Wharton for second place on that metric at 732. Harvard is #2 on the Index (ranked #6 in the U.S. News rankings, down from third place last year), with lower GMAT scores and GPA (725 and 3.70), but with a significantly higher acceptance rate at 11.5%.
- Across the top 10 schools in the Index, the average GMAT score is virtually unchanged at 725, GPA is 3.63, and acceptance rate is 18.4%, up from last year’s 16.4%.
- Sixteen schools had average GMAT scores of 700 or above, compared to 19 schools last year and 20 the year before.
- Thirty-one schools had average GPAs of 3.5 or higher this year, compared to 28 last year and 23 the year before.
Why did we develop the Selectivity Index?
Because we noticed that applicants tended to:
- Apply to schools where they were not competitive.
They were basing this decision on the stats and available information (which was inadequate – the Selectivity Index just wasn’t there yet).
- Focus on the one metric where they were either very strong or very weak.
Focusing on the one number that either makes you feel great or makes you feel terrible means that you fail to choose schools realistically, and consequently invest poorly in your overall application effort.
- Ignore weaknesses.
This generally results in a failure to address or mitigate the weaknesses. If you’re going to ignore them, you’re not going to fix them or provide context for them.
At Accepted, we don’t routinely discourage our clients from pursuing their dream schools – all you have to lose is the time spent putting together the application and the fee to submit, and at the end of the day strong examples of leadership and impact are always going to capture the attention of an admissions committee. That said, it makes sense for you to realistically assess your competitiveness at your target schools by comparing your test scores and grades as well as the non-quantitative factors in your profile to the known stats and stated criteria of the schools you want to attend.
How to use the information in the Selectivity Index
You can’t apply to b-school in a bubble. You must evaluate your qualifications in parallel to the average stats for your target schools. Here’s what we recommend you do:
- Apply to a few dream (2-3) schools, but mostly to programs where you are competitive (4-5).
- Assess your weaknesses and strengths in the context of your overall application so that you neither obsess over a weakness nor fail to provide positive reasons for acceptance.
- Work to mitigate weaknesses before and during the actual application process while highlighting strengths and creating a strong case for acceptance beyond the stats in your application.
A few of you may be thinking:
“I know my chances aren’t great at my target schools. But I’m working and making good money. It doesn’t pay for me to apply to any but the most prestigious schools.”
There are some applicants in this situation, but very few. If you’re one of them, you are applying rationally. If you aren’t one of them and you could achieve your goals at programs where you are competitive, then chances are you are relying too heavily on reputation over fit.
Weaknesses in the MBA Selectivity Index
While we feel this is a useful tool for anyone considering business school when it comes to just stats, there are some things missing.
- The Selectivity Index doesn’t reflect non-quantitative information, which does play a significant role in the holistic admissions process, and can allow those with non-quantitative strengths to get in despite lower-than-average stats.
- It doesn’t reflect the schools’ desire for diversity in their classes and community. Depending on your demographic profile, you may have a lower or higher bar to hit to be considered competitive for admission.
- It doesn’t reflect the importance of showing fit with an individual school’s strengths, mission, and values. It is up to you to do the appropriate research, including (if possible) visits to the school, attendance at admissions events, and/or connecting with current students or alumni. At the end of the day, the results of that research are much more important in helping you determine where to apply than stats could ever be.
- It does not measure or reflect ROI, educational quality, or career opportunity, which are all things you should factor into your decision-making process.
- It doesn’t reflect the impact of the still unfolding COVID-19 pandemic on MBA admissions and the economy.
Finally, while the Selectivity Index does reveal the relative level of competition at different programs, it doesn’t excuse you from making sure that the schools where you are competitive will also help you achieve your goals. It does you no good to get into a program that won’t help you go down your chosen path and realize your dreams.
Get an admissions consultant’s help with your MBA application
Looking for an additional way to improve your odds? Work with an Accepted admissions consultant to be sure that you are getting the best advice possible to position yourself well at your schools of choice. Don’t find yourself disappointed at the end of the admissions cycle – work with Accepted, sharpen your competitive edge…and get accepted!For 25 years, Accepted has helped business school applicants gain acceptance to top programs. Our outstanding team of MBA admissions consultants features former business school admissions directors and professional writers who have guided our clients to admission at top MBA, EMBA, and other graduate business programs worldwide including Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Booth, INSEAD, London Business School, and many more. Want an MBA admissions expert to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!