Discussions are currently underway to expand the Silver Scholars Program — which enrolls students fresh out of college in the Yale School of Management — administrators at the SOM say.
The program is an MBA program enrolling students who just graduated from college, which requires two years of business school classes separated by a year of work experience. The program is different from regular MBA admission in that normally applicants work for a few years before enrolling in the SOM MBA program, according to the SOM website. From its founding in 2004 up until last year, the program enrolled five to six students annually. That number climbed to seven for the class of 2016 and to 15 for the class of 2017. The SOM Associate Dean Anjani Jain said administrators are considering the pursuit of a greater expansion starting next year.
“A decision is not yet final, but a lot of the discussions point in the direction of a larger class moving forward,” Jain said.
Jain said the thinking behind expanding the incoming Silver Scholars class stems from a larger and stronger applicant pool.
This year’s application numbers so far for the Silver Scholars Program are at a record high, SOM Deputy Director of Admissions Melissa Fogerty said, and over half of these applications come from students outside of the United States.
SOM professor Barry Nalebuff said he said one of the reasons students see the benefit of the Silver Scholars Program is because it fills the void created by an education that is not finance-based.
“I’m a huge fan of a liberal arts education,” Nalebuff said. “But when you graduate Yale [College] and think about getting a job, you don’t have a lot of the skills a lot of jobs want. And, as a result, the jobs they give you reflect your lack of knowledge.”
The program is a way for the SOM to attract young talent, Jain said, adding that the SOM’s first year integrated core curriculum provides a broad business education that will be accessible for students who do not have prior business experience.
Nalebuff — one of the founders of the program who serves as an advisor to the Silver Scholars — said the purpose of Silver Scholars’ midway requirement to spend a year in the workforce helps students in the job market once they graduate. An MBA without any work experience is difficult to employ, he added.
Though for its first two years the program was only open to Yale College seniors, it is now open to students enrolled in any undergraduate institution, thanks to interest from other colleges in the U.S. and around the world, Jain said. Fogerty said the popularity of this type of program is on the rise, because more students are looking for a foundation in business before entering the workforce.
Harvard Business School and Stanford Business School have similar programs which allow college students to apply for an MBA upon or immediately preceding graduation. Harvard has a “2+2 Program,” a deferred admission pathway for students enrolled in college, and Stanford provides their applicants with a deferred admission and a direct admission option. Silver Scholars is unique in that it only accepts students who finished their undergraduate careers within a year of beginning at the SOM, Jain said. Students who apply one of more years after leaving college have to enter the regular MBA program.
Dan Kent SOM ’16 said the introduction to more practical skills was what most attracted him to the Silver Scholars Program.
“Most MBA candidates stay out in the workforce for [a few] years and then return back to school to get their MBA degree,” Kent said. “But I felt like … staying out and having to start in more entry level positions would be an opportunity cost that I really would rather forego and jump straight into business schools and recruit into MBA level positions.”
Kent and Linda Du SOM ’16 both said the Silver Scholars are very well integrated with other students at the SOM.
Nalebuff said the larger classrooms in SOM’s new building have made it physically possible to expand the Silver Scholars class. However, he added, whether or not SOM accepts more Silver Scholars for next year will ultimately depend on how successful this year’s increase is, which is a determination that cannot yet be made.
The first Silver Scholars graduated from SOM in 2006.