Ever wondered why the selectivity rate is so tight at the top business schools?

Don’t be surprised by the fact that MBA applicants with exceptional profiles and high GMAT scores are being rejected by schools like Harvard and Stanford. A lot of such highly deserving candidates with stellar applications get dinged without even being able to make it to the interview round.

These popular top-notch business schools attract the choicest applicant pool. In fact, according to Poets & Quants, admission officials at the top MBA programs admit that as many as 80% of those who apply are fully qualified to attend and successfully complete an MBA program. However, due to intake restrictions and the huge number of applications they receive, these schools need to be selective in the admissions process and hence have a low selectivity rate.

Though most applicants are likely to apply to at least a few top MBA programs, only a select few are able to make it to these prestigious business schools. The selectivity index may be used for reference while applying. It would help to gain clarity about which programs are easier to get into and which are not.

The lower the selectivity rate, the more difficult it is to get in and vice-versa.

Using data provided by Poets & Quants for the year 2017 as reference, we’ve listed down the selectivity rate at the MBA programs in Europe. According to GMAC 2018 Application Trends Survey Report, most graduate business programs reported an increase in applications this year. In Asia Pacific, applications went up for 67% of the programs, in Canada, 62% of the programs reported an increase in application volume, while for Europe, it was 61%. On the other hand, 70% of the two-year US MBA programs faced a reduction in application volume. For Europe and Canada, this rise in volume was due to international applicants while for Asia-Pacific, it was due to the rise in domestic demand.

Selectivity rates for MBA in Europe and UK

Most of the MBA programs here have around one year duration. The lower cost of the programs (due to the shorter duration) and the reputed brand names of the top programs make them an attractive option. However, some of these programs require a slightly higher work experience than the US MBA programs, so you need to do your research to find the right MBA program where you fit in well and the one that will ultimately help you attain your career goals.

Here’s the selectivity rate table for the MBA programs at the top European and UK business schools.

Business SchoolSelectivity Rate
INSEAD31.5%*
London Business School32.80%
Cambridge Judge33.5%
Oxford Said35.4%
HEC Paris17.50%
IMD28.80%
Manchester Business School29.10%
ESADE35.60%
IESE Business School26.4%
Mannheim16.60%
SDA Bocconi37.90%
ESMT Berlin47.8%
IE Business School38.0%
Warwick55.0%

 

The Highs and the Lows

Manheim Business School in Germany and HEC Paris have the lowest selectivity rate at 16.6% and 17.5% respectively. Acceptance rate at IMD Switzerland and Manchester Business School goes up at 28.8% and 29.10% respectively. Top schools including INSEAD, London Business School, Cambridge Judge and Oxford Said have a higher acceptance rate in the range of 30%-35%.

Finally, you can’t just rely on the selectivity index to decide whether you are likely to get into a particular school or not.

Begin working on your application early so that you have enough time for multiple GMAT attempts if needed. Have someone review your essays. Having a second set of eyes run through your essays can surely help you gain fresh perspectives. With a good GMAT score and a well -crafted application, you can make sure the odds of getting in are in your favour. Again, make it a point to apply in the earlier round to maximise your chances of being accepted.

Further Analysis

Comparing Mannheim and Warwick Business School, we can see that there is a big difference between the two acceptance rates.

According to Poets and Quants, London Business School’s applications went down by 10% for its MBA programme in the 2017-2018 admissions season. However, European schools are increasing MBA enrollments. LBS increased its MBA intake from five to six streams this year, thanks to the opening of a new building. In addition, LBS is not worried about the applicant decline, in fact, it is seen as the sort of blip administrators often see.

 

The quality of MBA applications to elite programmes is much higher than before. Business Schools select candidates on the basis of diversity of industry, function, and geography. When we explore the falls in the application in the USA, it surfaced that the falls were among the overseas applicants. The strict H-1B visa policies make it hard to secure US work authorization and that resulted in falls in applicants in the US. However, apparently, Europe did not benefit from this. Of course, some of the students redirected their interest to European business schools but some of them might have found themselves applying for Asian countries as well.

In comparison with US Business Schools, the European ones mostly have a higher acceptance rate of MBA applicants ranging from 16.6% in the case Mannheim Business School to 55% at Warwick Business School.

Of the total 465 applications received in 2017-18, Mannheim admitted 77 of which 55 enrolled showing a year over year change of 3%. HEC, Paris with an acceptance rate of 17.5% had 2,231 applications in 2017-18 of which 391 were admitted of which 235 students enrolled, a year-over-year change of 5%. IESE Business School comes next with an acceptance rate of 26.4% from a total 2,105 applications, admitting 556 of which 350 enrolled, -8% year-over-year change.

Meanwhile, IMD recorded an acceptance rate of 28.8% from 430 applications admitting 124 of which 90 enrolled with a year-over-year change of 63%. London Business School has an acceptance rate of 32.8%. Oxford Said and Cambridge Judge business schools also do not provide the figures. The acceptance figure for the Spanish business schools, IESE, IE and ESADE, is between 35% and 38%.

Unlike their US counterparts, several of the B-schools in Europe shy away from providing admission statistics. INSEAD, for instance, may provide the average GMAT score of the class but would not reveal the total number of applicants, those admitted or the acceptance rates. However, the school is believed to have an acceptance rate of around 30%.

London Business School has an acceptance rate of 32.8%. Oxford Said and Cambridge Judge business schools also do not provide the figures. The acceptance figure for the Spanish business schools, IESE, IE and ESADE, is between 35% and 38%.

INSEAD says it does not provide the statistics to avoid leading the applicants to wrong conclusions about their chances that may even lead them not to apply at some of the schools. They should have the freedom to apply depending on their profile, career goals and network opportunities.

Final Words

Admission consultants opine that the opacity could also be to hide fall in application volume corresponding with a rise in acceptance rates that could be interpreted as fall in standards. Among those refusing to part with data were the Imperial College Business School, Erasmus University’s Rotterdam School of Management, City University’s Cass Business School in London and Lancaster Business School.

No matter the MBA acceptance rate of the Business School you are interested in, you should give it a try and send an application in. You never know what might happen!

 

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