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10 Business Schools With the Lowest Acceptance Rates

More than 52,000 students applied to these 10 business schools, but few got in.

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The U.S. News Short List, separate from our overall rankings, is a regular series that magnifies individual data points in hopes of providing students and parents a way to find which undergraduate or graduate programs excel or have room to grow in specific areas. Be sure to explore The Short List: College and The Short List: Grad School to find data that matters to you in your college or grad school search.

Full-time M.B.A. hopefuls submitted more 130,000 applications to business schools for the 2011-2012 academic year, but less than half of those applications resulted in an acceptance letter, according to a recent report from the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT).

While a 50-50 chance of getting into your grad school of choice may seem like a coin toss, some students face much tougher odds. Stanford University's Graduate School of Business, which tied Harvard Business School for the top spot in U.S. News's 2013 Best Business Schools ranking, said "yes" to only 7 percent of the more than 6,600 students who applied.

[Find out which business schools have the highest acceptance rates.]

At the 132 ranked business schools that submitted acceptance rates for their full-time programs to U.S. News in a 2011 survey of graduate schools, an average of 46.9 percent of applications led to admissions offers in 2011. The average acceptance rate drops to 15 percent among the 10 most selective business schools, which are all ranked 11 or higher by U.S. News.

Applicants undaunted by selectivity of schools such as the University of California—Berkeley's Haas School of Business or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management, which accepted 12.2 and 13.3 percent of applicants respectively, could reap a generous reward if admitted; starting salaries for graduates of the 10 toughest business schools for admissions averaged more than $114,000 in 2011.

Below is the list of the 10 more difficult business schools to get into, based on school-reported acceptance data. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report:

School name (state) Full-time applicants Full-time acceptances Full-time acceptance rate U.S. News rank
Stanford University (CA) 6,618 466 7.0% 1
Harvard University (MA) 9,134 1,013 11.1% 1
University of California—Berkeley (Haas) 3,444 420 12.2% 7
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) 4,490 599 13.3% 4
New York University (Stern) 4,416 601 13.6% 11
Columbia University (NY) 6,669 1,062 15.9% 8
Dartmouth College (Tuck) (NH) 2,744 492 17.9% 9
University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) 6,442 1,209 18.8% 3
Yale University (CT) 2,823 539 19.1% 10
Northwestern University (Kellogg) (IL) 5,305 1,119 21.1% 4

U.S. News surveyed more than 400 schools for our 2011 survey of business programs. Schools self-reported a myriad of data regarding their academic programs and the makeup of their student body, among other areas, making U.S. News's data the most accurate and detailed collection of college facts and figures of its kind. While U.S. News uses much of this survey data to rank schools for our annual Best Business Schools rankings, the data can also be useful when examined on a smaller scale. U.S. News will now produce lists of data, separate from the overall rankings, meant to provide students and parents a means to find which schools excel, or have room to grow, in specific areas that are important to them. While the data come from the schools themselves, these lists are not related to, and have no influence over, U.S. News's rankings of Best Colleges or Best Graduate Schools.