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Some Top MBA Programs Now Easier to Get Into, Bloomberg Businessweek Reports

A third of the top 30 U.S. business schools admitted a significantly larger percentage of applicants in 2010 than they did in 2008, according to a recent report by Bloomberg Businessweek.

That’s right. According to data compiled by Bloomberg BW, several top MBA programs became less selective –meaning they admitted a greater percentage of applicants to their programs – this year, including the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, UCLA’s Anderson School of Management and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Of course, other schools – such as the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Harvard Business School and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management – became more selective or reported no change.

At schools where selectivity slipped, there are several factors behind the change, according to Bloomberg BW. For many, application volume has fallen off, so schools have fewer applicants to choose from. According to a recent survey of almost 500 MBA programs by the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC), 47 percent report that application volumes are down this year, and 9 percent report a decline of more than 20 percent since 2009.

Other schools, meanwhile, have experienced expanded capacity in recent years thanks to new facilities and other improvements. At Michigan’s Ross School, for example, a new building has allowed the MBA program to grow from 430 to 500 students per class, Admissions Director Soojin Kwon Koh told Bloomberg BW. Able to admit more students than in the past, Ross’s selectivity slipped from 20 percent in 2008 to 25 percent in 2010.

Still other schools suggest that growing less selective is a positive change that reflects better marketing of its program. That was the case at the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business, says Robert Krapfel, associate dean of MBA and MS programs. “When more high-quality people apply, you can admit a higher proportion of them, and this is what we strive to accomplish,” Krapfel wrote in an email to Bloomberg BW. Smith went from accepting 28 percent of applicants in 2008 to 38 percent in 2010, according to the Bloomberg BW report. Krapfel also noted that, like Ross, Smith increased its class size in 2010, by 22 percent.

Finally, some schools attribute their selectivity slide to the fact that applicants are getting smarter about where to apply. Cornell University’s Johnson School went from admitting 19 percent of applicants in 2008 to 22 percent in 2009 and 23 percent in 2010, according to the Bloomberg BW report.

Randall Sawyer, Johnson assistant dean of admissions, financial aid and inclusion, told Bloomberg BW that part of that is the result of candidates doing a better job of assessing their own fit with given MBA programs and applying accordingly. In doing so, they are giving admissions committees fewer but better choices, he said.

For the full Bloomberg Businessweek article, click here.

Posted in: MBA News

Schools: Cornell / Johnson, Michigan / Ross

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