Getting into a top business school has never been easy. In fact, many top business schools in the U.S. accept less than 20% of applicants into their business programs, with the best of the best accepting an average of 15.6% (2015). The acceptance rates are even lower for the world’s most elite business schools such as Stanford Graduate School of Business (Stanford GSB) and Harvard Business School (HBS). Of the 8,116 applicants for Stanford’s MBA Class of 2018, just 417 will be entering in 2018 and Harvard Business School accepted just 11% of the nearly 9,800 applicants for its MBA Class of 2018.
Low acceptance rates for top B-schools is nothing new and it looks it’s going to get even tougher to get in—even for the highest achieving applicants. One reason is the increase in GMAT scores—however big or small. Take the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, for instance, where GMATs rose for the 14th consecutive year. In 2015, incoming MBA students had an average GMAT score of 726. The average GMAT score of students admitted for 2016-2017 was 750 and the highest score was 770. Keep in mind that the maximum scaled score for the test is 800.
And then there’s Harvard Business School. Incoming HBS MBA students for 2015 had an average GMAT score of 725. The median score is 730 for the incoming MBA Class of 2018. The highest scorers will enter with a GMAT score of 760 in 2018. As for Stanford Graduate School of Business, the 2018 Class has an average score of 737. In 2015, the average score was 733. And the incoming MBA Class of 2018 at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has an average GMAT score of 728, with a high of 760. In 2015, the average score was 724.
While an impossibly high GMAT score isn’t the only accomplishment elite business schools consider when evaluating potential students, it does carry a significant amount of weight. This is especially true if the rest of your application package is less than stellar. According to a 2015 Poets & Quants survey, “business school admission officials are weighing GMAT scores more heavily than ever,” and GMAT scores today are thought to be “more than twice as influential in MBA decisions as undergraduate GPAs.” Survey respondents also estimated that “in general, GMAT scores account for more than a fifth of the weight (21.7%) in business school admission decisions.”
If your GMAT score isn’t as high as it needs to be, you can still get into a business school that offers a quality MBA program. There are several ways to get there. The first is to consider retaking the exam. According to Kaplan Test Prep, you can retake the GMAT up to five times in any 12-month period, but no more than once in any 16-day period. If you want to take it more times than that, you can request it in writing. You must have good reason to make the request or it will not be considered. Also, if you score an 800 on the exam, you will not be allowed to retake the test for another five years.
If retaking the test just isn’t working out, meaning your score has inched just a few points, consider taking the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Although the GMAT has been the go to standardized exam for aspiring MBA students since the 1950s, many schools do accept GRE scores. Another option is to consider a school that offers GMAT/GRE waivers (simply inquire within) or a school that does not require the GMAT (or the GRE) for admission at all. We found a few, so here you go:
Auburn University, Raymond J. Harbert College of Business (GMAT/GRE not required)
University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business (GMAT/GRE not required)
Colorado State University, College of Business (GMAT/GRE not required)
University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, UCCS College of Business
Howard University, School of Business (GMAT/GRE not required)
Florida International University, Chapman Graduate School
University System of Georgia, College of Business Administration
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, College of Business
Frostburg State University, College of Business
Babson College, F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business
Northeastern University, D’Amore-McKim School of Business
Suffolk University, Sawyer Business School
University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Manning School of Business
Hofstra University, Frank G. Zarb School of Business (GMAT/GRE not required)
New York University, Leonard N. Stern School of Business (GMAT/GRE not required)
Pace University New York, Lubin School of Business
Rochester Institute of Technology, E. Philip Saunders College of Business
Syracuse University, Martin J. Whitman School of Management
Ohio University, College of Business
Oklahoma State University, Spears School of Business
Clarion University of Pennsylvania, College of Business Administration & Information Sciences
Saint Joseph’s University, Erivan K. Haub School of Business
University of Scranton, Kania School of Management
University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Haslam College of Business
Texas A & M University-Commerce, College of Business
Texas Southern University, Jesse H. Jones School of Business
University of Texas at Dallas, Naveen Jindal School of Management-Graduate
Washington State University, Carson College of Business (GMAT/GRE not required)
University of Wyoming, College of Business
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Harvard Business School. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.
"MBA Programs That Accept the GRE® Revised General Test." Educational Testing Services, 2016. Web. 15 Mar. 2016.
Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2016.
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