Applying to Stanford GSB’s MBA? Here Are the Basics.

Stanford GSB, Knight Management Center

The Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) is a leading business school with special strengths in private equity and venture capital, entrepreneurship and social impact. Although it compares unfavorably to Harvard Business School (HBS) in certain metrics–as of 2019, its endowment is reported by Poets&Quants to be nearly $2 Billion lower, and HBS, thanks in part to its larger enrollment, consistently produces more CEOs, cabinet members, and other alumni in powerful positions–Stanford GSB is actually the most selective business school.

This low acceptance rate means that even if you are a great applicant, you are not guaranteed a place. Dean Emeritus Robert Joss famously remarked that he could “double the size of the incoming MBA class without even touching the quality,” and the corollary of this statement is that a large number of very well qualified applicants will be rejected each year.

As any MBA program does, Stanford wants to be appreciated for more than it’s historical reputation (for entrepreneurship, in this case). Stanford applicants would be well-advised to understand the school’s culture of emotional sharing (or over-sharing), giving feedback to each other, and pursuing a humanistic approach to business that relies on understanding the relationships between people. This may be good news for you if you’re a humanities major– Stanford admits far more people from this group than peer schools.

This profile lays out the basic facts about Stanford GSB and the resources you’ll need to further research the program.

Stanford GSB MBA Class Profile

Acceptance rate  6%
GMAT Average: 734
Range : 600-790
GRE Quant:165
Verbal: 165
Reporting GRE: 18%
GPA Average: 3.7
Range: Does not disclose
Age/Experience Age: 27years
Work Experience (years): 4.6
Diversity Women: 47%
International: 43%
Pre-MBA Industries
Consulting: 20%
Investment Management / PE / VC: 19%
Technology: 14%
Government / Education / Non-profit: 10%
Consumer Products and Services: 8%
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Financial Services: 7%
Arts / Media / Entertainment: 5%
Health Care: 5%
Other: 4%
Clean Tech / Energy / Environmental: 3%
Manufacturing: 3%
Military: 3%
Undergraduate Majors
Humanities / Social Sciences: 50%
Eng. / Math/Natural Sciences: 33%
Business: 17%

The data above is from 2019 and represents the Stanford MBA class of 2021*
See the full report: Stanford GSB Class Profile

Student Experiences

Stanford GSB MBA Employment Report & Careers

Offers & Compensation
Average Salary + Signing bonus: $180,831
% Offers upon Graduation:   78%
% Offers at 3 months: 94%
Post-MBA Industries
Finance: 33%
Private Equity: 16%
Venture Capital: 9%
Investment Management: 3%
Hedge Funds: 2%
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Investment Banking: 1%
Impact / Social: <1%
Post-MBA Locations
United States: 87%
Mid-Atlantic: 2%
Midwest: 7%
Northeast: 16%
South: 1%
Southwest: 1%
West: 61%
Non-US: 13%
Post-MBA Companies Does not disclose
Career Development Resources Stanford GSB Career Support

The data above is from 2019 and represents the career statistics for the Stanford MBA class of 2019.*
See the full report: Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA Employment Report

Stanford GSB MBA Academic Programs 

MBA Curriculum

The Stanford MBA program curriculum is segmented into 6 quarters: the autumn, winter, and spring quarters of year one, and the autumn, winter, and spring quarters of year two. The GSB required curriculum spans over the first year of the program, where students take fixed core classes in the autumn quarter, and select from a limited variety of classes during the winter and spring quarters. Students must also complete one Global Experience requirement. GSB’s elective curriculum allows students to choose from at least 100 courses in their second year. These courses vary by year. Some of the current courses offered at Stanford are Strategic Philanthropy and Impact Investing, Media Entrepreneurship, Investing for Good, Strategic Pivoting for your Next Chapter, and Making Social Ventures Happen by Attracting Financial and Human Capital.

Explore the full list of course offerings: Stanford GSB course bulletin 

Majors

The Stanford MBA leads to a comprehensive general management degree. Although GSB does not offer majors, students choose their electives from nine different academic areas: 

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Economic Analysis and Policy
  • General and Interdisciplinary
  • Marketing
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Operations, Information and Technology
  • Political Economics
  • Strategic Management

Experiential Learning Programs

GSB offers a range of opportunities through their Social Entrepreneurship Program and the Stanford GSB Impact Fund.

Research Centers

GSB has seven research initiatives and two research centers: 

MBA International Study Programs

GSB requires students to complete at least one global experience in their first year. Students can choose from four experiences.

  • Global Management Immersion Experience: Students spend four weeks in a foreign country working on projects during the summer.
  • Global Seminars: Seminars provide an in-depth coverage of a global business topic, and students spend eight to ten days in the seminar location. 
  • Global Study Trips: Travel to an international location for eight to ten days in a group of 20 to 30 students to develop a strong understanding of a global issue.
  • Stanford-Tsinghua Exchange Program: Collaborate with students from Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management on academic projects.

GSB also allows students to create their own independent study or global internship.

Video Resources on Stanford GSB Academics

Stanford GSB MBA Application

The latest application requirements set by the Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA admissions office are described in the links below.

Essays

For years, Stanford GSB has asked applicants the same two essay questions:

  • Essay A: What matters most to you, and why? (650 words)
  • Essay B: Why Stanford? (400 words)

Although these essays appear quite different, a great application often connects Essay A with Essay B. Pursuing a career that relates to the most important things in your life is a big plus at Stanford.

We discuss how to write a great Essay A at What Matters Most to You, and Why?.

Letters of Recommendation 

The 2020-2021 Stanford GSB recommender questions are as follows:

  • How does the applicant’s performance compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (E.g., what are the applicant’s principal strengths?) – Up to 500 words
  • Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response. – Up to 500 words
  • (Optional) Is there anything else we should know?

Video Resources on Stanford GSB Admissions

Stanford GSB MBA Admissions Interviews

The majority of admissions interviews are conducted by Stanford GSB alumni. Interviewers are trained to focus especially on behavioral questions, asking numerous follow-up questions to understand exactly what you did in each situation and why. Interview reports from our clients indicate that the variability from interviewer to interviewer in terms of length, style and content is high.

Admissions Info MBA Program Home Page
Admissions Home Page
Application Requirements
How to Apply Register your Interest
Start an Application
Meet Stanford GSB Visit Campus
Admissions Events – Upcoming
Do Your Research Insights by Stanford Business
A Week in the Life – Stanford GSB Students
Stanford GSB News
Faculty Directory

What Makes Stanford GSB Unique?

Touchy Feely: This incredibly popular course about interpersonal dynamics is the single most famous aspect of the Stanford GSB.  Be warned–it is difficult to say anything fresh about this topic in your essays!

Stanford University’s Six Other Schools: Stanford’s campus is designed with the GSB at the center, with the other graduate schools radiating outward from it.  Many GSB students take courses at these schools, or design programs at the d.school.

TALK: This is a forum for Stanford students to speak publicly to their classmates about highly intimate personal stories.  You won’t find a homepage for this club with recordings of previous sessions–but some Googling for “Stanford GSB TALK” will bring back more information about this tradition.

*All data retrieved from the Stanford GSB MBA Program webpages, unless otherwise stated.