An Explosion In Demand For Kelley’s Undergrad Business Program

Kelley Business Majors

Applications to study undergraduate business at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business are exploding. This year, a record 27,000 candidates applied for admission, up from last year’s record 21,000 and 18,000 two years ago.

Those 27,000 applicants are vying for 2,000 open class seats or 13.5 candidates for every open slot. The 28.6% year-over-year increase in apps at Kelley compares to a 6% increase in applicants at undergraduate colleges overall this year (see College Applications Surge for Fall 2024 Admissions).

“It is staggering,” says Patrick Hopkins, vice dean at Kelley. “And on top of that the quality is up and off the charts. So we are selecting the cream of the crop. Our admissions team is working around the clock to get the apps processed.”


Kelley School of Business Dean Ash Soni

Kelley School of Business Dean Ash Soni

Kelley has an undergraduate admissions team of eight but is drafting additional staffers to handle the bump in applications. “Everyone chips in at this time,” says Hopkins. “We use AI to assist on certain components of what we do, but we have 100 staff members in the undergrad program and at this point it’s all hands on deck.” 

Kelley Dean Ash Soni and Hopkins attribute the record jump in applications to increasing interest in business education, stellar career outcome stats as well as the school’s outreach efforts over the past decade.

“A lot has to do with placements,” explains Soni. “We place a lot on Wall Street so the finance programs are doing very well. Consulting does very well, and accounting has always been strong because we place a lot of students in the Big Four.”  In fact, the top four recruiting companies at Kelley are Pwc, EY, KPMG, and Deloitte, though the school boasts a wide and varied range of employers from Goldman Sachs and Citi to Amazon, Procter & Gamble, and McKinsey.


Overall job outcomes are especially strong at Kelley. Some 98% of the 1,750 Kelley seniors who graduated between July 2022 and June 2023 and were actively seeking a job landed one within three months of commencement. The average salary for a Kelly undergrad was $76,705, with a median sign-on bonus of $6,000. The grads landing the highest starting salary went into finance with a top salary of $180,000.

The school’s academic experience, as measured by graduate surveys by Poets&Quants, is ranked second best in the U.S. after only the University of Virginia.

The app increase reflects broad appeal for the school’s undergraduate business education. “They are coming in from all over the country,” notes Hopkins. “We’ve gotten 4,000 from the Northeast, and almost 2,000 from California. We are seeing it in Texas and Florida as well. The enrollment cliff hasn’t materialized due to the investments we’ve made early on.”

Soni adds that “California is a big winner for us, especially in the Bay Area. California apps this year are up by 50%, while apps from Texas show up 36% and those from the Northwest are up 11%.


Patrick Hopkins, vice dean of Kelley Bloomington

Patrick Hopkins, vice dean of Kelley Bloomington

“The other Big Ten schools are seeing increasing apps as well,” says Soni. “We talk to our counterpart at other Big Ten schools and they are seeing an increase but not in the numbers that we are seeing.”

Growth in available seats is unlikely at an undergraduate program that already has a total enrollment of 10,500 students. That makes Kelley not only one of the largest undergraduate business colleges in the world but also larger than the median U.S. college which has only 6,500 students. 

Beyond the 2,000 available seats, “we’ve got no place to put anybody else,” says Hopkins. “This is a high-touch environment.”


Hopkins says that “the flagship schools in 38 of the 50 states have seen application growth in the past five years while regional campuses have cratered. So there is a movement toward the flagships. We are seeing that flagship bump.”

In a typical year, Kelley will enroll about 2,000 undergraduate students and then add another 500 to 600 through transfers during sophomore year.

“We have more than 1,000 students in study abroad programs this semester,” says Hopkins. “It is amazing how we have purposely designed the program for students, from peer mentoring on academics and social support. At every level, we have a great team in place and they are mission focused on the student experience.”

“Both our faculty and our staff are very committed,” says Soni. “It may be that we are in a small town and it makes it easier. But student success is really important and people step up and do the work. It takes a lot of effort to make sure these students are taken care of.”

DON’T MISS: Kelley Conversations: The New Normal At Indiana Kelley or College Applications Surge for Fall 2024 Admissions

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