SOM sees 11 percent application increase

After several years of stagnant applicant pools, the School of Management saw an 11 percent jump in prospective Yale MBAs this year.

SOM received 2,272 applications this year, up from 2,032 last year. While such an increase would mandate greater selectivity in any year, the rise also coincides with a decision to decrease the incoming SOM class size by 20 percent — to a maximum of 180 students — in an attempt to ease management of its new core curriculum, which will be piloted next year. SOM accepted 28 percent of applicants last year, and 37 percent of those admitted chose to attend.

SOM spokeswoman Tabitha Wilde, said the growth in the school’s applicant pool is particularly notable in comparison to what she called a recent trend downward at business and management schools.

“MBA programs have had a tough time in terms of applications these last few years and some saw pretty significant declines, but we were fortunate to not be part of that trend,” Wilde said.

SOM Director of Admissions Anne Coyle also said the admissions office is pleased with the results of its recent application cycles, citing the school’s focus on service as its primary appeal.

“I think this millennial generation — and by that I mean students who have graduated from college since 2000 — seem to be attracted to all that SOM represents, especially the ideal of doing business while making the world a better place,” Coyle said.

Coyle also said the development of a new core curriculum and the influence of Dean Joel Podolny — who moved to Yale SOM from Stanford last year — likely served as factors behind the increased pool. Wilde said she attributes the rise in applications to the successful recruiting strategies of the SOM Admissions Office.

“You can look at it in terms of demographics, or why our program appeals to a particular kind of person, but I think it’s also important to recognize how hard our admissions office works to recruit students and do a really good job of supporting applicants at every step of the process,” Wilde said.

The demographics of SOM’s international applicant pool are also shifting, Coyle said, citing a 50 percent increase in the number of applicants from India this year.

Kerry Parke, a spokeswoman for Harvard Business School, said data on Harvard’s applications this year have not yet been released.

According to the HBS admissions Web site, statistics from the last three years indicate that Harvard experienced a steady decline in applications. Based on those figures, Harvard attracted 8,540 applicants to its business school in 2003. That number declined to 7,139 in 2004 and hit a low of 6,559 in 2005 — a full 23 percent drop from only two years before.

As a result, Harvard had to become less selective in its acceptance of business school candidates, moving from a 12 percent admissions rate in 2003 to 16 percent in 2005. These two acceptance rates produced a nearly identical yield in both years.

Coyle said this kind of change has not been unusual among the business schools of peer institutions.

“Many business schools saw a number of applications last year that represented 50 percent of what their applicant pools were only three years before,” Coyle said. “We’re the only one I know of that held steady and then went up this year. Although it’s possible that other schools also saw increases this year, those are increases on top of the drops they’ve experienced in the past.”

Representatives from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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