World business leaders, politicians, and more influential people have earned master’s degrees in business administration from top-ranked Stanford University.
Located in Stanford, California, amid Silicon Valley, the university offers a two-year, full-time MBA program. In addition to learning from high-quality professors, students hear from business leaders and other guest speakers and engage in different types of learning, from hands-on experience to case studies to small-group seminars.
Students also can choose to pursue one of several joint degrees, in which they earn an MBA alongside a Juris Doctor, Master of Public Policy, or Master of Arts in Education.
In other joint degree programs, students earn an MBA plus a Master of Science in either Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, or Environment and Resources.
MBA students also take electives in subjects such as accounting, entrepreneurship, and global management. They also are allowed to take up to a dozen graduate course units outside the business school, giving them a chance to augment their studies with lessons in politics, art, and other areas.
Stanford emphasizes collaboration among its students rather than competition. Its MBA student body is diverse, with members coming from around the world and a variety of ethnicities, religions, and other cultures.
Below, we break down Stanford’s MBA program, taking a closer look at what it offers, how to get accepted, and more.
Stanford MBA Acceptance Rate
No other MBA program in the world is as competitive as Stanford when it comes to admission, with an acceptance rate that generally lands around 6% or 7%.
Stanford received 7,367 applications for its MBA class of 2023. While the university did not share how many of these applications it accepted, it did note that 426 students ended up enrolling in the program.
Recent data show that Stanford’s acceptance rate differs drastically from other top MBA programs in the country, being much more selective.
In the 2019-20 admission cycle, Stanford accepted 7.2% of its applications, Poets&Quants noted. During the same cycle, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, which received a similar number of applicants as Stanford (a little over 7,000), accepted 25% of candidates.
Other schools that Poets&Quants named the best in the country include Harvard Business School, which accepted 12% of the roughly 9,300 applications it received, and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, which received over 5,800 applications and said yes to 20%.
According to former admissions officers, people who are not only intelligent and talented but also diverse and seem like they’ll make a significant impact on the world are exactly what Stanford’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) wants in its students. These candidates are risk-takers as well as passionate leaders.
Stanford MBA Tuition
Stanford charged $74,706 in tuition for the 2021-22 academic year. Factoring the cost of books, health care, and related fees, Stanford estimates the cost of attending its MBA program at $119,964 for single students and $144,042 for married students. (The estimate assumes living expenses and transportation fees will be higher for those who are married.)
These amounts include the cost of food, rent, and other personal expenses, which will vary by student.
However, the amount does not include the $3,000 to $4,500 students will pay for their “global experience,” in which they spend part of their studies learning overseas.
The university does have several options to help students pay for their MBA, including loans. Stanford also offers fellowships to people who show they are in need, and students do not need to repay these.
The class of 2023 received an average annual fellowship of about $42,000 or $84,000 in total financial awards. The university estimates that roughly half of its MBA students receive money from fellowships.
The university also provides students beginning graduate study in any of its seven schools, not just the business one, with up to three years of funding through the Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program.
A maximum of 100 students are picked for the program annually and must participate in a leadership development program as part of the funding package.
Stanford MBA Requirements
Prospective students do not need to have a specific undergraduate degree in order to enroll in Stanford’s MBA program, but its students tend to have done well in whatever they studied. The class of 2023, for instance, had an annual undergraduate GPA of 3.78. Of that same group, 19% already earned an advanced degree.
Stanford also gets people interested in the MBA experience right from the start of the application process.
Prospective students take a quick quiz at the website MyStanford.MBA, at which they then will get a dashboard customized to them. Here, candidates can track the progress of their application; learn more about events; and get personalized recommendations about classes, clubs, and other campus activities.
Applicants must include their educational history, professional experience, and details about their interests and any awards they received. Students must also submit either GMAT or GRE scores and two letters of reference.
One letter must come from either the applicant’s direct supervisor or an appropriate alternative at their current place of employment, and the second needs to be from another supervisor.
Prospective students also get to share a bit of themselves in two personal essays of about 1,050 total words.
Stanford also considers other factors when it looks at applications, including leadership skills, their intellectual prowess, and other personal traits. The university may also invite applicants to interview with either an MBA admissions officer or alumnus.
Stanford MBA Notable Alumni
It might not be surprising given its reputation and competitive admissions that Stanford’s MBA program has attracted students who’ve gone on to achieve loads of success in the business world.
While Phil Knight is known for his connection to the University of Oregon, the founder of Nike also earned an MBA from Stanford in 1962. Another leader of a major American corporation, Mary T. Barra, graduated from Stanford with an MBA in 1990 and went on to become chairman and chief executive officer of General Motors Company. And Yvon Chouinard, founder of the environmentally focused apparel corporation Patagonia, also got his MBA from the school.
Numerous politicians from the United States as well as several other countries also have earned MBAs at Stanford, including former NFL player and Republican Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, who represents Ohio.
Former Republican and later Independent Congressman Jim Kolbe earned his MBA in 1967. (While President John F. Kennedy attended business classes at Stanford, he ultimately did not earn a degree.)
MBA alumni have made themselves known in other fields as well, such as astronaut Steve Smith, who flew on four space shuttle missions and repaired the Hubble Space Telescope several times. Smith, who also earned a pair of electrical engineering degrees from Stanford, is the only person to join the astronaut program as an MBA holder.
Stanford MBA Ranking
Rankings from several publications consistently put Stanford’s MBA program among the best in the world. For 2021-22, Bloomberg Businessweek placed Stanford first out of 119 MBA programs worldwide.
The publication based the rankings on data about compensation and employment as well as nearly 20,000 surveys of current students, recruiters, and alumni. Stanford earned a 100 rating, followed by Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business (91.8) and Harvard Business School (89.2).
The Economist, meanwhile, took a closer look at different qualities of Stanford’s program, and several aspects earned high rankings, including coming in first for post-MBA salary. The program also came in eighth for personal development and educational experience and 18th for networking.
Stanford’s business school earned high marks from U.S. News & World Report as well, which named it the best school for an MBA in the nation for 2022.
The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business followed in second and third places, respectively.
The publication looked at full-time MBA programs only and based its rankings on factors such as student excellence and successful career placement.
Several specialties of Stanford’s MBA program landed in the top 10 nationwide, too. These include entrepreneurship and management, which each came in second, while nonprofit studies and marketing both landed in third place.
Should You Attend Stanford for an MBA?
With numerous publications naming it one of the best in the world and an alumni list that includes scores of high-ranking businesspeople, Stanford offers students a degree that’s worth the time and effort.
Students aren’t just a number at Stanford, either, thanks to the MBA program’s 6:1 student-faculty ratio. They learn from well-respected faculty members who have won Nobel Prizes or belong to acclaimed organizations, such as the National Academy of Sciences.
Outside the classroom, students can participate in loads of clubs and other groups that revolve around not only business but also sports, theater, and other special interests.
Within three months of graduating, 91% of students have received job offers.
Alumni of the program were hired by 445 employers in 2019–20, and 20% of the people named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list have earned MBAs from Stanford. Alumni in the last five years have raised an incredible $1.4 billion in startup capital.
Overall, Stanford offers a world-class education to students with the potential for success. Candidates who want to set themselves up for careers as leaders and business industries will be able to do just that at this Silicon Valley school.