Fuqua MBA Program Bucks Trends, Sees Record Increase in Applicants

The Duke Fuqua School of Business‘s global strategy, coupled with recruitment efforts across the world, translated into large increases in the number of MBA applicants last year, says Liz Riley Hargrove, associate dean for admissions at Fuqua, in a recent article in the Duke student paper, The Chronicle.

In fact, it was a record year for the Daytime MBA program, which received a total of 3,551 applications”” a 21% increase over the prior year and the most it has ever received, she notes.

“We really wanted to capitalize on what it meant for Duke to be really the world’s first legitimate business school,” Hargrove says, adding that Fuqua employs staff in five regions of the world to help with recruitment.

“Having a physical presence gave us more manpower and it also enabled us to relate that strategy to prospective students because we were able to see more people in person and connect them with our alumni.”

As an added enticement, Fuqua gave students attending information sessions or who visited the campus an application discount–$50 as opposed to the regular $200 fee, Hargrove explains.

The incentives didn’t diminish the quality of the applicants, however. According to Hargrove, the average GMAT score jumped from 688 to 697 and the acceptance rate dipped from 30% to 24%.

These impressive increases aren’t seen at all business schools. The Chronicle cites a recent Graduate Management Admission Council study which found only 44% of the 476 programs offering MBAs reported gains in the number of applications, as opposed to 66% in 2009 and 70% the year before.

According to the GMAC survey, the downward trend was to be expected because of the “cyclical nature of application volume trends.” The pattern is partially due to the economy, says Sam Silverstein, GMAC manager of media and public affairs.

One second-year Daytime MBA student quoted in the article says Fuqua’s strong relationships with business industries are part of the reason why the school was able to recruit successfully last year.

“There is a disconnect with some schools and their industries,” Pinar Aycan says. “There is a reason as to why people chose to come here as opposed to somewhere else.”

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