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HBS Draws More Women, Adds Six Points to GMAT Median

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When it released its preliminary class profile in June, Harvard Business School (HBS) was expecting its incoming class to be 41 percent female, a record for the school. In August, with students preparing to move in on campus, things look even better.

Dee Leopold, HBS managing director of admissions and financial aid, posted the final Class of 2017 profile on her Direct from the Director blog today, revealing that women will in fact make up 42 percent of the class, a two point increase over last year. While this still trails Kellogg and Wharton—each reported earlier this month that 43 percent of their incoming classes will be women—it puts HBS ahead of last year’s leader of the pack, UC Berkeley’s Haas School, which this year slipped to 41 percent, from a high of 43 last year.

More significant than the difference in a single percentage point from other top schools is the vast improvement it represents at HBS (and the other schools!) over the way things were not all that long ago. At HBS, women made up just 28 percent of the class in 1995 and a mere 11 percent in 1975. Together with its peer/rival top-tier business schools, HBS is leading the charge toward gender parity among MBA students, and we say bravo.

The median GMAT score for the HBS Class of 2017 is 730—no change here from the preliminary profile released earlier this summer. It does represent a significant uptick from last year’s 724, and it’s exactly the same as Wharton’s recently announced median. (The mean GMAT score at Wharton for the Class of 2017 was 732; HBS does not publish mean score data.) With Stanford (which has been a historical frontrunner in terms of median GMAT scores) yet to share class profile information, Wharton and HBS lead the pack in this regard so far this admissions season.

Tucked away in the class profile that went out today was what may be another record-breaking stat. HBS’s yield—which is to say the percentage of students who actually enroll after being admitted—hit 91 percent. For many years the school has hovered around the 89-90 percent mark. At 91 percent, “we believe this is the highest yield rate of any educational institution in the world,” wrote HBS Director of Media and Public Relations Jim Aisner in an email.

HBS also reports that it was more selective this year than in previous years, accepting just 11 percent of the 9,686 who applied, compared to 13 percent of the Class of 2014 and 12 percent in each of the past two years. This can be linked to the fact that application volume has steadily increased over the same time period, from 8,963 in 2014 to 9,686 this year. Stanford, though, still holds the record when it comes to selectivity, with an admitted rate last year of around 6.5 percent.

There is also a shift this year in what incoming HBS students studied as undergrads, although not quite as great as June’s preliminary profile suggested. At the beginning of the summer, Leopold and her team expected 39 percent of incoming students to have STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) backgrounds, a significant jump over last year’s 34 percent. When all was said and done—meaning after some admitted students opted out and others got in off the wait list—STEM undergrads now make up 36 percent of the class. Undergrads in the humanities and social sciences represent 19 percent of the class, a falloff from last year’s 22 percent. Economics and business majors continue to dominate, making up 45 percent of the class, up from 43 last year.

View the complete HBS Class of 2017 profile.