Business School Acceptance Rates for Undergraduate Programs

Understanding business school acceptance rates is crucial for prospective undergraduate students as they embark on the journey of selecting the right institution for 2024-2025 session. This article provides insights into the significance of acceptance rates, categorizes schools based on the likelihood of admission, and offers a glimpse into the acceptance rates of some of the top undergraduate business programs in the United States.

Categorizing Business Schools

Acceptance rates become the cornerstone for creating a nuanced college list, allowing students to identify safety, target, and reach schools. A safety school, where admission is likely, signifies that a student’s grades and test scores surpass the average admitted student. A target school implies an academic profile close to the average admitted student, providing a roughly 50 percent chance of acceptance. Reach schools, while more challenging to secure admission, are further categorized into near-reach and far-reach based on the proximity of credentials to the average admitted student.

Organizing schools into these categories offers a roadmap for students, encouraging a focused approach on target and near-reach institutions while including a few safety schools. This strategic allocation of effort optimizes the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Business Schools Acceptance Rate

It’s essential to recognize that acceptance rates, though influential, do not represent an overall ranking of business school undergraduate programs. While various factors contribute to the selection process, acceptance rates provide a tangible sense of a school’s general desirability.

For reference, and to note that acceptance rates do not directly equate to “rankings,” here are the top 12 undergraduate business programs as ranked by U.S. News and World Report.

  1. University of Pennsylvania
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  3. University of California, Berkeley
  4. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  5. Carnegie Mellon University
  6. New York University
  7. University of Texas, Austin
  8. Cornell University
  9. Indiana University, Bloomington
  10. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  11. University of Southern California
  12. University of Virginia

With this information in mind, here are the approximate business school acceptance rates for some of the top undergraduate programs in the country. This list is organized by acceptance rate and it includes all schools with rates below 20%.

Acceptance Rates of Business Schools (Under 10% Acceptance)

  1. Cornell University (SC Johnson College of Business — Dyson)
    Acceptance Rate: 4%
    Over recent years, the SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University has significantly heightened its selectivity. From an already low acceptance rate of 6.4% in 2019, it has further declined by more than two percentage points. Within the college, the Dyson School stands out, offering bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Management, while the Nolan School boasts one of the nation’s premier programs in Hotel Administration.
  2. Northeastern University (D’Amore-McKim School of Business)
    Acceptance Rate: 6%
    The D’Amore McKim School of Business has witnessed a notable decrease in its acceptance rate, dropping from 16.3% in 2021 to its current level just below 6%. Situated in Boston, MA, Northeastern University is renowned for its cooperative education model, integrating classroom learning with practical work experience.
  3. New York University (Stern)
    Acceptance Rate: 7%
    Consistently ranked among the top business schools nationwide, NYU’s Stern School offers a variety of Bachelor’s of Science degrees, including business, business and political economy, and business, technology, and entrepreneurship. Nestled in downtown Manhattan, the Stern School is intricately connected to the dynamic commerce of New York City.
  4. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
    Acceptance Rate: 7%
    Established in 1881 through a generous donation from Joseph Wharton, the Wharton School is the world’s oldest collegiate business school. Renowned for its impressive list of alumni and robust networking opportunities, Wharton stands out. Notably, students uniquely apply to Wharton during their senior year of high school.
  5. Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper School of Business)
    Acceptance Rate: 9%
    Compared to other institutions on this list, the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon is relatively small. With 584 undergraduate students, 922 postgraduates, and 76 doctoral students, the school boasts association with Nobel Prize winners among its alumni and faculty. The undergraduate economics program, jointly administered with the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, offers a blend of perspectives.
  6. Washington University in St. Louis (Olin Business School)
    Acceptance Rate: 9%
    Ranked 6th in this compilation of business school acceptance rates, the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, established in 1917, admits students directly as freshmen. However, students are required to diversify their education by taking 40% of their classes outside of business areas, providing a comprehensive educational experience.
  7. University of Southern California (Marshall)
    Acceptance Rate: 9%
    Home to the United States’ inaugural Entrepreneurship Program, the USC Marshall School of Business, located in Los Angeles, offers unique joint programs. These innovative programs combine business administration with diverse fields such as International Relations and Cinematic Arts.
  8. University of Michigan (Ross School of Business)
    Acceptance Rate: 10%
    Among public universities on this list, the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan boasts the lowest acceptance rate. The school, housing various institutes, ranging from nonprofit research to global sustainability and venture capital, also hosts the Monroe Street Journal and the Michigan Journal of Business, the first undergraduate-level academic journal in the business field.

Acceptance Rate Business Schools (10% to 20% Acceptance)

  1. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler Business School):
    Acceptance Rate: 10%
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan):
    Acceptance Rate: 12%
  3. University of Virginia (McIntire School of Commerce):
    Acceptance Rate: 12%
  4. Georgetown University (McDonough School of Business):
    Acceptance Rate: 12%
  5. Tulane University (A.B. Freeman School of Business):
    Acceptance Rate: 13%
  6. Boston University (Questrom School of Business):
    Acceptance Rate: 14%
  7. University of Notre Dame (Mendoza College of Business):
    Acceptance Rate: 14%
  8. Emory University (Goizueta Business School) :
    Acceptance Rate: 16%
  9. Villanova University:
    Acceptance Rate: 17%
  10. Purdue University (Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business):
    Acceptance Rate: 18%
  11. Georgia Institute of Technology (Scheller College of Business):
    Acceptance Rate: 18%
  12. University of Miami (Herbert Business School):
    Acceptance Rate: 19%

Final Thoughts

While acceptance rates provide valuable insights, prospective business students should consider a holistic approach. Factors like program offerings, faculty, location, extracurricular opportunities, and campus environment play a crucial role in choosing the right fit. Additionally, students must weigh the decision between attending an undergraduate business school or pursuing an economics degree in a non-business school setting, taking into account their career goals and preferences for hands-on experience or a more theoretical education. Ultimately, the chosen path should align with post-graduate aspirations, whether that involves entering the workforce directly or pursuing advanced degrees like an MBA.