Business School Acceptance Rates for Undergraduate Programs in 2023-24

September 18, 2023

business school acceptance rates undergraduate

This article will focus on business school acceptance rates, one of the primary ways that business schools are evaluated. Acceptance rates are a major factor when it comes to business school rankings. They can help you group schools into tiers based on how likely you are to be accepted.

Business school acceptance rates are a great place to begin your search. Starting here will help you identify “safety,” “target,” and “reach” schools and thereby create the perfect college list. A safety school is a college where you are likely to be admitted. This means that your grades and test scores are higher than the average admitted student. Lastly, a “target” school is a school in which your academic profile is close to the average admitted student. This means you will have about a 50 percent chance of getting in.

Finally, a “reach” school is a college where you are unlikely to be admitted. There’s little risk involved in applying to “reach” schools but this can potentially be a waste of valuable time. We can split the “reach” category into multiple tiers, however. A “near-reach” is a school where your credentials are just below those of the average admitted student. A “far-reach” is a school where your credentials are well below those of the average admitted student.

Organizing business schools into these categories will allow you to make the best use of your time. It’s a good idea to focus on schools in the “target” and “near-reach” range, without neglecting a few safety schools. This is where the work is most likely to pay off.

Acceptance Rate Business Schools

Be sure to remember that this is not an overall ranking of business school undergraduate programs. There are many other factors that go into choosing one school over another. Acceptance rates, however, will give you a strong 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%.

Note: Many of these schools do not publish their undergraduate business school acceptance rates, so we refer to the most recent available data/projections when necessary.

Acceptance Rate Business Schools (Under 10% Acceptance)

1) Cornell University (SC Johnson College of Business — Dyson)

  • Acceptance Rate: 4%

In recent years the SC Johnson College of Business at Cornell University has become even more selective, with an already low acceptance rate of 6.4% in 2019 dropping by more than two percentage points. The SC Johnson College of Business is split into two schools. The Dyson School offers bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Management, while the Nolan School offers one of the country’s top-ranked programs in Hotel Administration.

2) Northeastern University (D’Amore-McKim School of Business)

  • Acceptance Rate: 6%

The D’Amore McKim School of Business is ranked slightly lower than you might expect based on this miniscule acceptance rate. This rate has plummeted from 16.3% in 2021 to where it currently sits just below 6%. Located in Boston, MA, Northeastern University is known for its cooperative education that balances classroom learning with practical work experience.

3) New York University (Stern)

  • Acceptance Rate: 7%

Consistently ranked as one of the top business schools in the country, the Stern School at NYU offers Bachelor’s of Science degrees in business; business and political economy; and business, technology and entrepreneurship. Located in the heart of downtown Manhattan, the Stern School is intimately connected to New York City commerce.

4) University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)

  • Acceptance Rate: 7%

The Wharton School is the world’s oldest collegiate business school, established in 1881 through a donation from Joseph Wharton. It is one of the world’s most well-known business schools, with an impressive list of alumni and excellent networking opportunities. Unlike many other undergraduate business programs, Wharton students apply specifically to Wharton during their senior year of high school.

5) Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper School of Business)

  • Acceptance Rate: 9%

The Tepper School of Business is relatively small compared to other schools on this list of business school acceptance rates. The school has an undergraduate population of 584 students alongside 922 postgraduates and 76 doctoral students. The Tepper School is associated with a number of Nobel Prize winners, both alumni and members of the faculty. The undergraduate economics program at Carnegie Mellon is jointly administered by the Tepper School and the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. As a result, it offers a taste of both worlds.

6) Washington University in St. Louis (Olin Business School)

  • Acceptance Rate: 9%

The Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis ranks 6th in our list of acceptance rate business schools. The school was established in 1917 and students are admitted directly as freshmen. They are, however, required to take 40% of their classes outside of business areas. This provides a good option for students who are set on business but are also looking for a broad education.

7) University of Southern California (Marshall)

  • Acceptance Rate: 9%

Located in Los Angeles, California, the USC Marshall School of Business hosts the United States’ first Entrepreneurship Program. The Marshall School also offers some exciting and unique joint programs. These combine, for instance, business administration with fields such as International Relations and Cinematic Arts.

8) University of Michigan (Ross School of Business)

  • Acceptance Rate: 10%

The Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan has the lowest business school acceptance rates of any public university on this list. The school contains a number of institutes in areas ranging from nonprofit research to global sustainability to venture capital. It also houses the Monroe Street Journal and the Michigan Journal of Business, the first undergraduate-level academic journal in the field of business.

Acceptance Rate Business Schools (Continued)

As you can see from this list of business school acceptance rates, many of the top undergraduate programs are extremely selective. These are all excellent schools, but this is not to say that less selective programs will provide a lower standard of education. Many of the following schools will be equally desirable or even more desirable depending on your own particular preferences. Indeed, some of the schools in US News and World Report’s top 12 fall outside of this list entirely.

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

9) University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler Business School): 10%

10) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan): 12%

11) University of Virginia (McIntire School of Commerce): 12%

12) Georgetown University (McDonough School of Business): 12%

13) Tulane University (A.B. Freeman School of Business): 13%

14) Boston University (Questrom School of Business): 14%

15) University of Notre Dame (Mendoza College of Business): 14%

16) Emory University (Goizueta Business School) : 16%

17) Villanova University: 17%

18) Purdue University (Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business): 18%

19) Georgia Institute of Technology (Scheller College of Business): 18%

20) University of Miami (Herbert Business School): 19%

21) University of Texas at Austin (McCombs School of Business): 19%

Acceptance Rate Business Schools – Final Thoughts

Students choose to attend business school for a wide variety of reasons and this list of business school acceptance rates should offer an entry point into understanding how your own interests might complement the undergraduate programs available to you. In addition to acceptance rates, factors to consider include program/course offerings, faculty, location, extracurricular opportunities, student body makeup, campus environment and a number of other things that are difficult to quantify.

Another choice to consider is whether you would prefer to attend an undergraduate business school or pursue an economics degree in a non-business school setting. Studying at a business school will likely provide more hands-on, real-world experience. This often correlates to consulting and internship opportunities as well. An economics major, on the other hand, will supply a more theoretical education. This might appeal to you if you are interested in exploring issues such as economic justice, poverty, development, or inflation. Majoring in economics also provides the opportunity to take courses outside of business, though many business schools offer similar opportunities. Indeed, universities will generally allow you to register for courses in schools in which you are not enrolled.

Finally, it’s important to consider what you would like to do when you finish your undergraduate education. One of the main reasons students elect to attend an undergraduate business school is because it will increase your chances of finding employment in a relevant field upon graduating. Many students choose to pursue an MBA following their bachelor’s degree and each of the schools listed here will increase your odds of getting into a top MBA program.