Several of the nation’s top business schools are reporting solid increases in MBA application volume this year, reversing several years of declines.
While most business schools have yet to report their numbers, the largest single percentage increase so far is being reported by Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. Applications to Kelley’s two-year MBA program have risen a whopping 25% following the school’s improved showing in last year’s Bloomberg BusinessWeek ranking. Kelley also said that applications to its online MBA program rose by more than 30%.
According to a survey by BusinessWeek published on May 9, several other schools are reporting healthy increases. They include Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, up 12%, the University of Virginia’s Darden School, up 11%, and the University of Chicago’s Booth School, up 10%.
As previously reported by Poets&Quants, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management had a 9% increase in applications for its two-year MBA program and a 30% rise for it’s one-year MBA program for students with undergraduate business degrees.
For many of the schools, the increase represents something of a rebound. The University of Michigan’s Ross School, which is reporting an 8% increase in MBA applications, saw its application volume fall by 16.8% a year ago. That drove up the school’s acceptance rate to an unusually high 40.6%, 8.4 points more than the 32.2% acceptance rate for the school in 2011.
The rising volume of applicants is not entirely unexpected because it follows an 11% increase in GMAT testing volume for the year-ended last June.
Dean Idie Kesner of Indiana’s Kelley School attributed the unusually large increase in MBA applications to improved rankings. “We have had a real run-up,” she told PoetsandQuants. “That is in contrast to most MBA programs which I believe will be flat this year. We’ve had a very good year. The rankings are up. When you’re No. 1 in student satisfaction, career services and faculty you get student attention. They care about those things,” she added, referring to last year’s Bloomberg BusinessWeek ranking. BW ranked Kelley 15th in the U.S., up from 19th in 2010.
But not every school is experiencing an uplift. At the University of Southern California’s Marshall School, for example, the story isn’t all that different. “Applications are okay but not setting the world on fire,” says James Ellis, Marshall dean. “There is so much written on the negativity of the MBA, but it is still the most valuable degree in the business world.”