College applicants like to know what their chances are of getting into a particular business school, whether it’s a safety or a reach or a first-choice school. One of the most-used measuring sticks is class grade point average; applicants compare their GPA with the average number of the latest entering class at, say Wharton, to figure out how well they stack up.
It’s not everything — it’s certainly not the most important data point in your application, as any college counselor will tell you — but it’s a signpost on the road to higher education, and that’s why, as part of our annual ranking of Best Undergraduate Business Schools, we ask schools to report average high school GPA data for their most recent incoming class of business majors.
This year, out of 94 ranked schools, incoming students at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina had the highest average high school GPA, earning a 4.35 on the 4.0 scale. Students can earn higher than a 4.0 for successfully completing Advanced Placement high school classes — something the data show is being done by lots of students at the country’s top B-schools.
10 B-SCHOOLS WITH CLASS GPAs OVER 4.0
Following Darla Moore, which grew its class GPA from 4.21 last year, the University of Virginia McIntire School of Commerce dropped to second rom first last year, with a class GPA of 4.32 — which was actually an improvement from the top 2020 mark of 4.25. McIntire was followed this year by Villanova University in Philadelphia (4.30), Washington University in St. Louis Olin Business School (4.22), and Northeastern University D'Amore-McKim Business School in Boston (4.22).
And where does Wharton fall on the table of GPAs? Though it is our No. 1-ranked school overall, Penn lands outside the top 25 in GPA with a class score of 3.88. Wharton is also one of a minority of schools to lose ground in GPA from last year. See page 2 for more data.
Ten schools in our annual ranking had class GPAs over 4.0, down from 11 schools the year before. Two schools that were under 4.0 last year moved into the 4.0 club this year: Florida International (4.17 from 3.98) and Georgia Tech Scheller (4.00 from 3.96). Nine schools in our 2022 ranking, meanwhile, did not report GPA this year — including many top schools like Cornell, Emory, UNC, Notre Dame, and Wake Forest.
BEST TOP-10 RANKED SCHOOL GPA: 4.32 AT VIRGINIA McINTIRE
With covid as a complicating factor, it’s hard to make much of trends. Does a dip or gain of a hundredth of a point — or even a few hundredths of a point — mean anything under the circumstances? Probably not, but let’s take a look anyway.
- Number of schools with a higher GPA in 2021 from 2020: 44
- Number of schools down: 25
- Number even: 8
- Number NA: 17
The school with the biggest year-to-year improvement was the University of Arizona Eller School of Management, which reported a 0.56 gain to 3.56. Other notable gains occurred at Southern Methodist University Cox School of Business (+0.21 to 3.83), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Gies College of Business (+0.20 to 3.94) and Florida International University (+0.19 to 4.17). The biggest declines occurred at the University of Texas-Dallas Jindal School of Management (-0.27 to 3.61), with noteworthy drop-offs also at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington Cameron School of Business (-0.18 to 3.98) and the Binghamton (New York) University School of Management (-0.17 to 3.83).
The average GPA for schools ranked in P&Q's top 10 is 4.03. (Only nine of the 10 schools reported; Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business does not report class GPA). Last year, at seven top-10 schools, that average was 3.92. No. 5 McIntire and No. 9 Villanova led the gains among five top-10 schools, both gaining 0.07 (to 4.32 and 4.30, respectively).
That McIntire number was the best GPA in the top 10. The worst: No. 1 Wharton: 3.88
See the next page for average high school GPAs in 2020 and 2021 for the 94 schools in our 2022 ranking.
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