Finding the Success Rates for Law, Medical, MBA and Grad Programs

I’m answering a question today from a reader, who is interested in locating MBA placement rates. The advice is also pertinent to those wondering if a particular school will give a child a boost when applying to graduate school and other professional degree programs.

Is there any info out there on colleges with a good track record for MBA admissions down the road? Lots have great medical and law school results, but with the work experience gap typical of MBA candidates, there’s little info we’ve been able to find. Our youngest is thinking a liberal arts college, economics/philosophy major but a good MBA admissions track record would be a real hook in his search.

This is a tough question and probably impossible to obtain meaningful figures. In fact, I’d be skeptical about any grad/professional figures that schools publish.


Because these placement figures are self reported. Schools send surveys to students, but they only formulate their grad-school admittance rates based on alumni who respond. Human nature suggests that college graduates who were rejected for post-graduate work wouldn’t be eager to share that information.

Don’t Believe the Stats

When I talked to admission reps at the college conference that I attended last week in Reno, they largely downplayed any statistics that institutions were generating about law/medical/biz/grad school placement.

When I posed this question to an admission official at UCLA (I can’t find her darn business card!), she said it would be hard to track grad/professional placement figures at undergraduate institutions. Instead she suggested that students contact graduate schools about where their students are coming from. She acknowledged, however, that this wouldn’t give a family any information about the admission success rate of students attending grad/professional schools from a particular undergraduate institution.

The UCLA administrator also addressed a common misperception that students enjoy a grad-school advantage if they attend the institution as an undergrad.  She said some UCLA undergrads think they will enjoy an admission edge to professional-degree programs at UCLA, but it’s not true.

A Better Idea

Andrea Hendrickson, the West Coast admission rep at Lawrence University, an excellent liberal arts college in Wisconsin, suggested that prospective students spend time asking in-depth questions about pre-advising programs for professional degrees at undergraduate institutions. Don’t just inquire if a school has pre-professional advising programs, ask for detailed information about how they work.

Excellent pre-advising programs are essential for undergrads because it’s extremely difficult for an undergrad to know what’s involved in qualifying for programs after a bachelor’s degree is in hand. I’d also ask to speak to students and recent grads who have used the services.

For graduate programs outside law, business, medical schools, I think it’s wise to assess what kind of support professors have in helping direct students to graduate programs. What kind of mentoring goes on — if at all. Once again, you’ll also want to talk to students and recent grads about their experience.

MBA Programs

Going back to the original question – as the mother suggested, I think MBA will be especially problematic because students usually don’t aim for a MBA right after getting their bachelor’s degree. Business schools rightly want students who have had experience in the work force.

One way to boost your chances of ultimately getting accepted into an MBA program is to major in something other than business. One of the most popular posts at my college blog at CBS MoneyWatch during the past year provides many reasons why a student should think twice before pursuing a business degree, which is the most popular of college majors. More than one out of five college students graduate with one.

8 Reasons Not to Get a Business Degree

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of the second edition of The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price, which was released earlier this month.


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