Applications for Wharton’s full-time MBA program fell 13.9% for the incoming class of 2024, but the business school achieved gender parity and maintained its record average GMAT score for the second year consecutive.
Wharton released his 2024 MBA class profile today, and he mostly maintained the impressive gains he saw in the previous profile as he emerged from the shaky ground of the pandemic. Except in application volume, that is.
This year, 6,319 prospective students applied for the Class of 2024, down more than 1,000 from 2021. This is the lowest number of applications since 2019 (Class of 2021), when 5,905 future MBAs applied. . Wharton enrolled 877 students, down 20 from the previous year.
OTHER TRADE SCHOOLS WILL LIKELY REPORT DOUBLE-DIGIT DROPS
Wharton’s decline in applications is a harbinger of what applicants will find when class profiles are released by other business schools. This drop is the result of what had been a booming US economy that kept young professionals in their jobs and out of graduate school. To keep young talent in place, many companies have dangled salary increases and promotions to potential candidates.
Yet the magnitude of the decline in the number of applicants to a school of Wharton’s prestige and reputation is striking. It has been made more serious due to the lockdown in China which has all but prevented Chinese students from accessing the US higher education market, as well as declining interest in the MBA from domestic applicants who have preferred to remain in place rather than go to higher education. Although Wharton does not report an acceptance rate in its class profile, the school’s admission rate likely edged closer to 25.0% from a low of 18.2% a year earlier. . Wharton’s rate of return – the percentage of admitted applicants who actually enroll – is in all likelihood down to 50% or less, from 67% last year.
The decline is a sharp reversal from the dramatic surge in MBA applicants that accompanied the onset of the pandemic in 2020. That year, Wharton saw applications soar 21% to 7,158 from just 5,905 in the 2018-2019 admissions cycle, over 400 fewer applicants than last year. The current decline is expected to continue until the first-round application deadlines in September. But with a recession looming, it’s possible the nomination bust will end with a great second season early in the new year.
GENDER PARITY AND GMAT SCORES
In continued good news for the school, 50% of the Class of 2024 are women, marking the second consecutive year the school has achieved gender parity in its new MBA class.
Last year, Wharton became the first elite business school to enroll a majority of women in its MBA program at 52%, a significant increase from 41% enrolled in 2020. Then Wharton appeared to be falling behind over its peer schools when Dartmouth College’s Tuck’s incoming School of Business class was 49% female, Stanford 47%, Duke Fuqua 46%, and Harvard 44%. (See The best business schools with the most women).
“As we do every year, we’ve made a conscious effort to make sure candidates feel wanted and welcomed at Wharton, and shown them our program’s many resources and communities where they can connect, collaborate and feel supported,” Maryellen Reilly, Associate Dean of the Wharton MBA Program, said in a statement at the time. “Diversity, equity and inclusion are at the heart of our efforts, and while we are extremely proud to welcome this record number of women to our MBA community this year, we hope that equitable gender representation will become soon to be the norm in business schools, rather than the exception.”
Meanwhile, the incoming class also maintained Wharton’s record average GMAT score of 733 for the second year in a row. His average GRE scores were 162 both verbal and quantitative, while his average GPA was 3.6, just like last year.
INTERNATIONAL, LGBTQ+ AND ETHNICITY
The class of 2024 also increased their percentage of LGBTQ+ representation to 8%, up 1 point from the previous class. This is a record in this category, according to the school.
It has largely maintained its international student base, with 35% international students from 77 countries – down slightly from 36% and 83 countries for the class of 2023. This is the third highest percentage since 2014 , after falling to 19% in 2020 – a year heavily disrupted by the pandemic.
Eleven percent of incoming MBAs are first-generation students. When it comes to undergraduate majors, 34% were in humanities, 34% in STEM, and 32% in business. This compares to 39% Humanities, 33% STEM, and 27% Business for the incoming class of 2023.
AVERAGE WORK EXPERIENCE
The incoming MBAs have an average professional experience of 5 years, the same as the previous promotion. But, while the work experience range was between 1 and 14 years for the previous class, the range for 2024 was 1 to 24 years.
Consulting environments account for 27% (compared to 28% in the previous class), followed by technology at 12% (compared to 10%), and nonprofits and government at 11% (compared to 10%). Investment banking backgrounds, which were the second-largest group in 2021 at 14%, have fallen to just 8% this year, the sixth-largest labor category this year.
DO NOT MISS : MEET THE WHARTON SCHOOL’S MBA CLASS OF 2023 AND AVERAGE GMAT SCORES JUMP 11 POINTS FOR WHARTON’S FALL COHORT