Kellogg affected by decreasing number of applicants, following national trend


Daily file photo by Alec Carroll

Kellogg Global Hub. A tight labor market is driving students away from business schools like Kellogg.

Neya Thanikachalam, Reporter

A four-year decline in applications to prestigious business management programs is starting to hit elite schools, including Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

A survey released earlier this month by the Graduate Management Admission Council, a nonprofit that administers the Graduate Management Admission Test, found that the tight labor market is beginning to drive students away from schools that attract the most applications.

In a statement to The Daily, Kate Smith, the assistant dean of admissions and financial aid, said while the number of applications for the two-year MBA program had been growing over the past several years, this year saw a 2.7 percent decrease.

Smith said one factor behind the decrease in applications to the two-year degree is the rising interest in other business degrees, such as the one-year MBA. There are eight different graduate programs at Kellogg, each meant to help students find both the schedule and syllabus that is most useful for them.

“While small shifts in the quantity of applicants to our two-year M.B.A. program are to be expected year over year,” Smith said. “The most important thing is that Kellogg is seeing very strong talent and diverse backgrounds across the board.”

Kellogg’s application rate decrease isn’t unique among high-level business schools. Applications to the Harvard Business School, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and a number of others all decreased at a higher rate than Kellogg, according to the survey.

Despite the diminishing popularity, students and graduates said the Kellogg experience is still worthwhile.

First-year Kellogg student Leneesh Pokala said although he knew the application process for the one-year master’s program at Kellogg would be intensive, it was equally as rewarding.

“The application process was a little long,” Pokala said. “But I would say that really gave me an opportunity to showcase who I am. Overall, it was a good process.”

Kellogg’s M.B.A. application consists of essays, GMAT or GRE scores, letters of recommendation, an academic transcript, interviews and a video essay, Pokala said.

For Michelle Beck (Kellogg ’12), the flexible schedule was especially important. As a working mother with young children, she was looking for a program close to her home in Chicago that was best-suited for her schedule and experience, as she already had a bachelor’s degree in computer science.

“Kellogg has a great reputation in marketing and journalism as well as having a great business school, so I felt that would be a great way to round out my skill set,” Beck said. “I also really fell in love with the campus when I toured it.”

Beck graduated from the Executive M.B.A. program and is the director of application development and portfolio management at the consulting firm Spencer Stuart.

Kellogg prides itself on the multitalented group of individuals that are admitted, Smith said in the statement. The class of 2020 for the two-year master’s program is 46 percent female, the highest in Kellogg’s history.

The current class of Kellogg is also the most diverse in the history of the school, with 27 percent of the class identifying as a nonwhite.

A previous version of this article misinterpreted a statement from Kate Smith, Kellogg’s assistant dean of admissions and financial aid. Smith said one factor behind the decrease in applications to the two-year degree is the rising interest in other business degrees, such as the one-year MBA. The Daily regrets the error.

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