Yield Rates and Acceptance Rates of Business Schools

By Arvind Kumar

Navigating the competitive landscape of business school admissions involves a nuanced understanding of key metrics, with acceptance rates and yield rates standing out as pivotal indicators. 

In this comprehensive analysis, we delve into the acceptance and yield rates of top US and European business schools over the years, exploring the trends, patterns, and implications that shape the choices of both applicants and institutions. 

From the hallowed halls of Harvard Business School, Oxford Saïd, and Cambridge Judge to the dynamic environments of Wharton, Stanford GSB, INSEAD, and LBS we unravel the stories told by the numbers, offering insights into the selectivity, strategies, and evolving dynamics that define the world of MBA admissions.

What are Acceptance Rates and Yield Rates?

Acceptance rate and yield rate are two important metrics in the context of business school admissions.

Acceptance Rate

  • Definition: The acceptance rate is the percentage of applicants who are offered admission to a particular business school.
  • Calculation: It is calculated by dividing the number of admitted students by the total number of applicants and multiplying by 100 to get a percentage.
  • Significance: A lower acceptance rate is often considered an indicator of the school’s selectivity and competitiveness. Schools with lower acceptance rates are generally perceived as more prestigious.

Yield Rate

  • Definition: The yield rate, also known as the enrollment rate, is the percentage of admitted students who choose to enroll in the business school.
  • Calculation: It is calculated by dividing the number of enrolled students by the number of admitted students and multiplying by 100 to get a percentage.
  • Significance: A higher yield rate indicates that a larger percentage of admitted students chose to attend the school. It reflects the attractiveness of the school to admitted applicants and is a measure of how successful the school is in converting admitted students into enrolled students.

Selectivity Index of Top US Business Schools

The selectivity index includes the acceptance rate and yield rate of a business school. 

In this table, we assess the selectivity index of top US business schools and also take a look at the data on the number of applications and admits for these top 40 US business schools.

S NoBusiness SchoolAcceptance Rate Yield RateNumber of Applications Admits
1Harvard Business School14.40%85.50%8,2641,187
3Stanford GSB8.60%80.30%6,152528
4Columbia Business School19.70%56.70%5,6431,109
5MIT Sloan14.80%51.50%5,349792
6Chicago Booth30.10%48.50%4,3521,308
7Northwestern Kellogg31.40%38.20%4,1871,316
8Michigan Ross28.10%37.10%3,6311,020
9NYU Stern27.10%33.70%3,553962
10Duke Fuqua20.50%54.90%3,539727
11Yale SOM27.60%38.80%3,237894
12UC-Berkeley Haas19.60%39.50%3,183625
13Virginia Darden34.20%34.10%2,9841,021
14USC Marshall24.80%28.90%2,652658
15Cornell Johnson31.20%38.00%2,555798
16UCLA Anderson37.60%34.70%2,473929
17Dartmouth Tuck33.40%37.60%2,282763
18CMU Tepper28.80%29.40%2,267654
19UNC Kenan-Flagler35.90%34.10%1,975709
20Texas-Austin McCombs34.10%34.50%1,866637
21Georgetown McDonough50.90%31.80%1,537782
22Rochester Simon14.70%38.60%1,497220
23Indiana Kelley23.50%38.70%1,372323
24Boston University Questrom27.50%41.50%1,347371
25Vanderbilt Owen39.90%30.10%1,226489
26Emory Goizueta37.10%28.90%1,055391
27Washington Foster28.10%34.20%1,000281
28Rice Jones42.80%38.10%982420
29Ohio State Fisher15.10%39.20%949143
30Washington Olin25.50%49.70%701179
31Notre Dame Mendoza32.70%41.90%700229
32Arizona State Carey18.00%66.70%51793
33Minnesota Carlson37.80%35.80%495187
34Georgia Tech Scheller32.30%47.80%492159
35Penn State Smeal18.50%56.90%39072
36Georgia Terry33.70%55.20%371125
38Texas-Dallas Jindal34.00%40.90%324110
39BYU Marriott47.30%81.80%256121
40Texas A&M Mays42.20%33.70%23298

Inferences and Observations

Analyzing the data for the top US business schools, several trends and insights can be derived:

Acceptance Rate Variation:

Acceptance rates vary widely among the top business schools, ranging from as low as 8.6% (Stanford GSB) to as high as 50.9% (Georgetown McDonough).

Highly prestigious schools such as Harvard, Stanford, and MIT Sloan have notably low acceptance rates, indicating high selectivity.

Yield Rate Influence:

Yield rates, which represent the percentage of admitted students who choose to enroll, also exhibit significant variation. Harvard has an exceptionally high yield rate of 85.5%, reflecting its desirability among admitted candidates.

Some schools with higher acceptance rates, such as Georgetown McDonough and BYU Marriott, have high yield rates, suggesting that admitted students are more likely to enroll.

Number of Applications and Admissions:

There is considerable variation in the number of applications received by each business school. Harvard, Wharton, and Stanford GSB receive over 6,000 applications each.

Admissions numbers show the selectivity of schools; for example, Harvard admits a relatively small percentage (14.4%) of its applicants, while Georgetown McDonough admits a larger percentage (50.9%).

Competitiveness and Selectivity:

Schools like Chicago Booth, Northwestern Kellogg, and Michigan Ross have acceptance rates of around 30%, indicating a competitive admissions process.

Higher acceptance rates, such as those for Arizona State Carey and Texas A&M Mays, may suggest a less competitive admissions landscape.

Enrollment Strategies:

Some schools, like Duke Fuqua and Texas-Austin McCombs, have a balanced acceptance and yield rate, indicating successful enrollment strategies.

Other schools, such as UCLA Anderson and USC Marshall, have higher acceptance rates but lower yield rates, suggesting they may face challenges in converting admitted students into enrollments.

Regional Patterns:

Business schools in the same geographical region may exhibit similar trends. For instance, several Southern schools, including Texas A&M Mays, Rice Jones, and Texas-Dallas Jindal, have relatively higher acceptance rates.

Size of the School:

The size of the business school, as reflected in the number of applications and admissions, can impact acceptance and yield rates. Smaller programs, like Stanford GSB, may have lower acceptance rates due to limited spots.

Unique Cases:

Schools like BYU Marriott and Arizona State Carey stand out with high yield rates, indicating that a significant portion of admitted students choose to enroll, possibly due to specific program strengths or offerings.

S NoBusiness SchoolAcceptance Rate 2022Yield Rate 2022Acceptance Rate 2021Yield Rate 2021Acceptance Rate 2020Yield Rate 2020
2Chicago Booth30.10%48.50%22.60%54.40%22.00%57.50%
3Stanford GSB8.60%80.30%6.20%93.60%7.20%82.30%
4Northwestern Kellogg31.40%38.20%26.00%42.20%20.00%48.10%
5Harvard Business School14.40%85.50%12.60%82.70%12.00%65.60%
6MIT Sloan14.80%51.50%12.10%52.40%22.00%34.70%
7Columbia Business School19.70%56.70%15.70%64.80%16.20%69.20%
8Yale SOM27.60%38.80%23.60%38.20%29.70%34.10%
9Dartmouth Tuck33.40%37.60%29.50%40.50%34.80%37.40%
10UC-Berkeley Haas19.60%39.50%17.60%43.00%23.30%38.50%
11Michigan Ross28.10%37.10%20.20%49.30%37.00%37.60%
12Duke Fuqua20.50%54.90%19.20%61.80%25.00%48.70%
13Cornell Johnson31.20%38.00%29.50%49.00%39.60%39.40%
14Virginia Darden34.20%34.10%29.90%38.40%35.60%38.10%
15NYU Stern27.10%33.70%19.50%46.70%28.70%29.90%
16UCLA Anderson37.60%34.70%29.80%40.50%35.30%35.60%
17USC Marshall24.80%28.90%23.00%39.30%24.30%28.30%
18Texas-Austin McCombs34.10%34.50%35.50%36.10%37.00%33.30%
19UNC Kenan-Flagler35.90%34.10%44.30%44.70%50.60%35.60%
20Washington Foster28.10%34.20%35.20%42.70%41.30%32.00%
21Emory Goizueta37.10%28.90%53.10%34.00%46.10%29.50%
22Indiana Kelley23.50%38.70%31.50%42.40%42.70%29.60%
23Washington Olin25.50%49.70%33.70%55.50%47.00%40.20%
24CMU Tepper28.80%29.40%29.70%39.60%27.40%24.60%
25Georgetown McDonough50.90%31.80%48.10%36.20%57.00%29.20%
26Georgia Tech Scheller32.30%47.80%27.10%51.30%37.30%36.10%
27Vanderbilt Owen39.90%30.10%44.00%35.70%46.30%32.80%
27Notre Dame Mendoza32.70%41.90%41.60%48.40%49.00%43.20%
29Rice Jones42.80%38.10%42.00%48.90%39.50%49.30%
30Rochester Simon14.70%38.60%21.90%39.70%24.50%35.70%
31Arizona State Carey18.00%66.70%16.80%57.40%22.20%51.30%
32Minnesota Carlson37.80%35.80%37.30%50.90%53.80%40.20%
33Penn State Smeal18.50%56.90%18.60%56.10%20.10%53.10%
34BYU Marriott47.30%81.80%60.70%84.40%42.90%76.30%
35Ohio State Fisher15.10%39.20%22.50%48.80%40.00%28.50%
36Georgia Terry33.70%55.20%40.80%48.40%37.40%56.20%
37Boston University Questrom27.50%41.50%33.90%36.20%51.30%30.60%
38Texas A&M Mays42.20%33.70%42.90%56.10%42.30%49.10%
40Texas-Dallas Jindal34.00%40.90%33.30%48.20%40.90%45.10%

Inferences and Observations

Analyzing the trends and inferences from the provided data on acceptance rates and yield rates for top US business schools over the years (2020-2022), several insights can be derived:

Consistency and Stability:

Overall, many schools exhibit relatively stable acceptance rates and yield rates over the three years, suggesting a certain level of consistency in their admissions and enrollment strategies.

Harvard Business School and Stanford GSB Selectivity:

Harvard Business School and Stanford GSB maintain consistently low acceptance rates, indicating their highly selective admissions processes. Additionally, they have high yield rates, suggesting that a significant proportion of admitted students choose to enroll.

Varying Trends in Acceptance Rates:

Some schools, such as Wharton and Duke Fuqua, have experienced an increase in acceptance rates over the three years. This may indicate a strategic decision to admit a slightly higher percentage of applicants.

Other schools, like Cornell Johnson and NYU Stern, show more stable or slightly decreasing acceptance rates.

Competitiveness of Top Programs:

Schools like Chicago Booth, MIT Sloan, and Columbia Business School consistently maintain moderate acceptance rates, reflecting the competitive nature of these programs.

Columbia Business School, despite having a higher acceptance rate, maintains a relatively high yield rate, suggesting strong appeal among admitted students.

COVID-19 Impact:

The pandemic may have influenced acceptance rates, as evidenced by changes from 2020 to 2022. Schools may have adjusted their admissions strategies in response to the uncertainties and disruptions caused by the pandemic.

The impact on yield rates is less clear-cut, with variations across schools. Changes in the economy, the shift to remote learning, and other factors may have influenced student decision-making.

Unique Cases:

BYU Marriott stands out with consistently high yield rates, suggesting strong appeal and successful enrollment strategies.

Texas A&M Mays and Wisconsin have relatively high acceptance rates, but their yield rates indicate that a significant percentage of admitted students choose to enroll.

Acceptance Rates and Yield Rates of European Business Schools

Business SchoolAcceptance RateApplicationsAdmittedEnrolledYield Rate
IE Business School38.00%2,9271,11273566.10%
London Business School32.80%2,45280548560.25%
HEC Paris17.50%2,23139123560.10%
IESE Business School26.40%2,10555635062.95%
Oxford Said35.40%1,58656131956.86%
Cambridge Judge33.50%1,28643120647.80%
ESADE Business School35.60%94533618755.65%
Manchester Business School29.10%43012511390.40%
SDA Bocconi37.90%37514210876.06%
Warwick Business School55.00%3541958041.03%
ESMT Berlin47.80%2281096862.39%
Source – P&Q data for 2019 admissions

Inferences and Observations

Varied Acceptance Rates:

European business schools exhibit a wide range of acceptance rates, from the highly competitive HEC Paris (17.50%) to more accessible institutions like Warwick Business School (55.00%). This diversity reflects the differing levels of selectivity among these schools.

Application Volume Disparities:

The number of applications varies significantly across European business schools, with INSEAD, IE Business School, London Business School, and HEC Paris,  receiving a substantial number. This reflects the global appeal and recognition of these institutions, possibly driven by their strong academic offerings and international reputation.

High Yield Rates at Top Institutions:

Top-tier schools like INSEAD and IESE Business School boast impressive yield rates (82.79% and 62.95%, respectively). This indicates not only the selectivity of these schools but also their ability to attract admitted candidates to enroll, highlighting the allure of their programs.

Competitive Dynamics in the UK:

London Business School, Oxford (Said), and Cambridge (Judge) demonstrate competitive acceptance rates. The UK’s status as a global business hub likely contributes to the high demand for these programs, making them sought-after choices for prospective students.

Geographical Influences on Enrollment:

Mannheim, located in Germany, stands out with a relatively low acceptance rate (16.60%) but a remarkably high yield rate (71.43%). This suggests that while the school is selective, those admitted are more likely to enroll, possibly due to the program’s appeal and regional factors.

Diverse Yield Rates:

Yield rates across European business schools vary, with Manchester Business School and IMD leading with exceptionally high rates (90.40% and 72.58%, respectively). These figures indicate strong alignment between the admitted candidates’ preferences and the actual enrollment decisions, showcasing the schools’ success in converting admits into enrolled students.

Italian School Performance:

SDA Bocconi, based in Italy, demonstrates a competitive acceptance rate and a solid yield rate. This suggests a balanced approach in attracting and retaining admitted candidates, showcasing the school’s international appeal and program strength.

Challenges at Warwick Business School:

Warwick Business School, while having a relatively high acceptance rate, exhibits a lower yield rate (41.03%). This may indicate challenges in converting admitted students into enrolled ones, possibly pointing to the need for strategic enrollment efforts.

Final Thoughts

It is quite evident that these metrics are not just statistical figures but mirrors reflecting the ever-shifting landscape of business education. The fluctuations in acceptance rates reveal the competitive nature of the admissions process, while the stability or variability in yield rates unveils the intricate negotiations between schools and admitted candidates. 

From the impact of global events to the strategic maneuvers of top-tier institutions, this analysis underscores the multifaceted nature of MBA admissions, providing prospective students and academia enthusiasts with a deeper understanding of the trends shaping the future of business education.

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