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The Pickiest Business Schools on Earth

Hoover Tower on the Stanford University campus

Photograph by SG Chumakov/Alamy

Hoover Tower on the Stanford University campus

It’s one of the odder features of management education, and of higher education more broadly, that an institution’s street cred improves in direct proportion to the number of people it turns away at the door. Selectivity is considered by many one of the most important indicators of quality—a sign that successful applicants will be surrounded by smart, talented counterparts—and it’s certainly one of the most widely followed.

In that spirit, Bloomberg Businessweek has ranked the 10 most selective business schools among the more than 100 that are taking part in this year’s ranking of full-time MBA programs in the U.S. and abroad, scheduled for release on Nov. 15. The good news? With applications down at many schools, it’s become easier to get into some top schools, albeit only modestly so. The bad news? It’s still not easy by any stretch of the imagination.

For Bloomberg Businessweek‘s 30 top-ranked full-time MBA programs from 2010, selectivity averaged 27.8 percent—19.4 percent among the top 10, 32 percent among the rest. Stanford, which admitted only 7 percent of its applicant pool (same as last year), was the only top-30 school with single-digit selectivity, although several programs, including Harvard Business School (13 percent, up from 12 percent last year), came pretty close. At the other end of the selectivity spectrum, five top-30 schools accepted more than 40 percent of their applicant pools: Michigan State (41 percent), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (43 percent), Minnesota (43 percent), Brigham Young (45 percent), and Southern Methodist (51 percent).

The table below includes year-old information from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, which declined to supply 2012 data. The ranking is based on selectivity, but where there were ties, the school with the higher yield—the percentage of admitted applicants who enrolled—received the higher rank.

Lavelle is an associate editor for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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