Does Size Matter? MBA Class of 2018 Cohorts in the US

Would you prefer a large or small MBA class size?

MBA cohorts come in a variety of sizes. Programs with large student intakes each year may well extol the virtues of joining a greater pool of classmates with whom you can share knowledge and experiences in the here and now, as well as the access you’d enjoy to an extensive alumni network post-graduation. Conversely, smaller MBA classes often emphasize the value of joining a more close-knit community, reasoning that is the quality of interactions rather than the quantity that makes the biggest difference to a rewarding program experience.

In truth, both the relatively large and the relatively small MBA classes out there have their advantages and it’s up to the prospective student to work out which size will suit their interests and personality best, and which is most likely to facilitate what they hope to achieve by enrolling in an MBA program.

This year’s entering full-time MBA classes at a selection of 20 of the most reputable business schools in the US highlight the scale of choice in size. At the top end of the MBA class-size-spectrum are the MBA class of 2018 cohorts at Harvard Business School and Wharton, both of which enrolled more than 800 students this fall. Columbia Business School (which also enrolls a second, smaller intake of MBAs each January) took in around 550 new students this August. 

Among the MBA classes of the 20 schools displayed below, the average intake size is 382 students. At around this level, we find the 360 and 390-strong class of 2018 cohorts at UCLA Anderson and NYU Stern, respectively. However, this average is more than double the number of students joining the MBA classes at the Kelley School, Goizueta and Vanderbilt this year, each of which have fewer than 200 students in their full-time MBA class of 2018 cohorts.

MBA classes in the US, by size of intake

MBA Class of 2018 Cohort Size

Business schoolSize of cohort
Harvard Business School934
The Wharton School851
Columbia Business School558
The Kellogg School of Management474
Stanford Graduate School of Business417
Michigan Ross School of Business415
MIT Sloan School of Management409
NYU Stern School of Business390
UCLA Anderson School of Management360
University of Virginia, Darden345
Yale School of Management334
Kenan-Flagler Business School299
Tuck School of Business285
Cornell University279
The University of Texas at Austin - McCombs School of Business260
Haas School of Business252
Marshall School of Business228
Kelley School of Business185
Goizueta Business School181
Owen Graduate School of Management175

Entering MBA class sizes in 2016

Sources: Class profile information from business schools' official websites

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Written by Tim Dhoul

Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).

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