Today marks the first day of class for the Yale School of Management’s largest-ever student body.
All three degree programs at SOM — the MBA, MAM and MBA for Executives — registered record enrollment this year, administrators said. According to Associate Dean David Bach, this has been the result of a fairly steady increase over the past five years, though the record this year represents the most significant leap in numbers. This year’s entering class also has the highest percentage of international students and the highest yield rate in the history of the school.
Still, administrators said the school is still fairly modest in size, relative to its peer business schools.
“We are still a small business school,” Bach said. “We remain among the premier MBA programs with the highest student-faculty ratio.
SOM Associate Dean Anjani Jain also said the increase in the size of the student body size is not disproportionate. The growth has been matched by a commensurate increase in faculty, he said, as the school has intensified its hiring over the past year.
Bach said a large faculty is necessary to sustain growth in the student body — but that it goes both ways. In order to attract world-class faculty in major areas of expertise, the school needs to have the critical mass of students and facilities to sustain it.
Associate Director of Admissions Bruce del Monico attributed this year’s growth to the momentum the school has been building over the past few years.
“The steady growth [of critical mass] and global aspirations, and all these factors, have come together to really represent and put us one a strongly positive trajectory,” he said.
SOM’s growth over the past five years, culminating in the move to its new campus in January, has also brought on new challenges, Bach said. This year’s MBA yield of 49.53 percent was record-breaking, but fell slightly short of administrators’ goal of crossing the 50-percent line.
Falling short of the yield rate goal is partly a consequence of SOM’s new academic standing. Because SOM has now entered the top range of business schools in the country, Bach said, it is now at a risk of losing some applicants to other long-established, top-tier institutions.
“When we lose top MBA students we tend to lose them to Stanford, Harvard, et cetera,” he said. “We’ve entered the choice set of the very top applicants and that’s a success.”
Jain said an MBA applicant’s choice is often determined by the program’s affordability, and Yale SOM is not yet in a position to offer as many scholarships as Harvard or Stanford do.
But the percentage of scholarships at SOM has grown from 4 to 12.5 percent over the past three years. Although far from the 36 to 37 percent offered by other top institutions, the school expects to keep increasing its financial capacity, administrators said.
One area in which SOM has risen above its peer institutions is in its percentage of international students — which this year, cumulative of all three degree programs, is 54 percent.
Five students interviewed said they are enthusiastic about the school’s growth and momentum, but they also chose SOM for its small size and high student-faculty ratio.
Mo Chen SOM ’16 said he values the high percentage of international students at the school because it allows him to make connections across the globe, especially as he will likely return to Asia after his studies in the U.S.
Francesco Annetta SOM ’16 said the overall growth in the student body is exciting, but also startling for everyone involved.
“Everyone was a little surprised when we came into the classrooms first day and we almost couldn’t fit!” he said. “But I think it’s still a decent enough size — I’ve interacted with most of my classmates.”
SOM is located at the northern end of Yale’s campus, at 165 Whitney Ave.