In this edition of Real Humans: MBA Students, we head to Palo Alto, California—part of Silicon Valley and home to what is widely considered the best of the best business schools in the world. Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) has a well-earned reputation as a big idea incubator with a social conscience, as represented by its motto, “Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world.” The location lends strength in entrepreneurship and the high-tech industry to the program as well, though these fields are further buttressed by the responsive innovative curriculum.
The MBA program is also known for its small size, which creates an intimate academic setting. Of the 7,342 applicants for the Class of 2021, 417 ultimately matriculated. Stanford nearly reached gender parity, as 47 percent of the new class are women. Forty-three percent are international students and 27 percent identify as U.S. minorities. GMAT scores ranged from 600 to 790, but the group averaged 734 on the exam. For those who took the GRE, they averaged 165 in both the Verbal and Quantitative sections. Half of the class had studied humanities/social sciences during their undergraduate years. A third came from STEM while 17 percent had majored in business. Of those who had attended U.S. schools, their average GPA was 3.7 on a 4.0 scale.
The Class of 2021 averaged 4.6 years of work experience, though the range spanned 0 to 14 years. Consulting was the most popular pre-MBA industry, as 20 percent came from the field. Investment management/private equity/venture capital followed at 19 percent. Fourteen percent had worked in the tech industry and another 10 percent came from the government/education/nonprofit sectors. The rest of the group brought professional experience from consumer goods, finance, the art, military and more.
Among GSB MBA students, the common thread among the responses to “Why an MBA?” is a vision anchored by the goal to positively influence people’s lives. Some candidates also recognize tidal shifts in their respective sectors; the MBA degree is an important avenue to key skills needed to become effective leaders in new business landscapes. When it came to the decision to attend Stanford, it was the connection to students, the customizability of the program, and Stanford’s focus on leadership development within the frame of social impact that stood out most to some members of the Class of 2021.
Let’s learn more about how four Stanford first-year students ended up in Palo Alto.