Northwestern Kellogg MBA: Complete Guide to Admissions

Forget sunny California and Boston. You can’t wait to fill your suitcase with wool socks and long underwear and head off to the Windy City! Chicago is home to Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, an MBA program focused on general management with a very strong reputation for marketing. Let’s take a closer look at this program: what it takes to get in, and what to expect when you get there.

Table of Contents

Northwestern Kellogg MBA: GMAT Scores, Acceptance Rate, and Median GPA

How hard is it to get into Kellogg MBA? GMAT scores, the acceptance rate, and the average GPAs of accepted applicants are all good indicators of what kinds of prospective students get in. In this section, we’ll look at these three factors, and then take a closer look at additional details about what the program and your future classmates at Kellogg might be like.

Acceptance Rate

US News and World Report lists Kellogg’s acceptance rate at 27.9%. This rate is on the high side compared to its peers– applicants have a nearly 1 in 3 chance of getting in!

Does this mean it’s easy to get into the Kellogg MBA program? Not necessarily. Successful Kellogg applicants typically have high GMAT scores and high undergraduate GPAs. Those accepted into the Kellogg MBA also enter the program with a fair amount of work experience under their belts. Let’s talk about those factors. We’ll start with test scores.

Kellogg MBA GMAT Score Ranges (and GRE ranges!)

The acceptance rate is the good news. But, here’s the bad news: Kellogg proudly boasts that the median GMAT score for its class of 2023 is 727. This means your score needs to be in the 95th percentile just to be at the average GMAT score for the program. The GMAT range, on the other hand, is pretty broad. Some have gotten into Kellogg MBA with as little as 650 on the GMAT, while other accepted applicants have had scores high as 780. If your score is near the bottom of the range, you’ll need to be strong in other areas in order to get accepted.

For the GRE, the percentiles aren’t as high. The average GRE score for the Kellogg MBA class of 2023 is 162 for Verbal (90th percentile) and 165 for Quant (84th percentile). The range od scores is correspondingly lower too, with a 154-170 range for Verbal and a 151-170 range for Quant.

The GRE requirements are easier to meet then, right? Well…maybe. But before you cancel your GMAT account and jump to the GRE, look before you leap. Magoosh has a great GMAT vs. GRE blog post and video to help you compare the two tests and decide which one to take.

The Median GPA for Northwestern’s MBA Candidates

For the class of 2023, Kellogg reports that its students have an average undergraduate GPA of 3.7. This GPA is based on the 0 – 4.0 grade point average scale used by the vast majority of American universities. If your bachelor’s degree program used a different scale, you’ll want to convert it to the 0 – 4.0 scale to see how you measure up against that 3.7 standard.

Is your GPA coming up a bit short? If it is, I have some good (and interesting!) news for you; as high as the GPA average is, the range for the class of 2023’s GPA is pretty broad. Accepted students have GPAs ranging from 4.0 at the top all the way down to 2.4 at the lower end.

So, if you have a lackluster undergrad GPA, but have other strengths in your application, (dazzling work experience, a GMAT score that’s to die for, or some other awesome asset), you may still be in the running for a Kellogg MBA.

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A Closer Look at the Kellogg Class Profile

Here is a quick snapshot of the class of 2023 in the Kellogg MBA program:

Kellogg MBA Class Profile, By the Numbers

Class Size508
Average GPA3.7
Average GMAT Score727
Average GRE ScoresVerbal: 162
Quant: 165
Underrepresented Minorities23%
Average Work Experience5 years

That quick snapshot is helpful, but it doesn’t tell the whole story, especially when it comes to diversity. Fortunately, Kellogg releases a lot of additional info about race. Per their official student profile page, the class of 2023 reports the following racial identities (statistics are for United States domestic students only):

  • American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Other Pacific Islander: 2%
  • Asian American: 21%
  • Black / African American: 9%
  • Hispanic / Latinx: 14%
  • White: 73%

You’ll notice that these percentages add up to more than 100%. This is because Kellogg’s statistics on race account for students who identify as belonging to more than one race. About 5% of Kellogg’s students identify as multiracial.

Another item that isn’t included in the table above is educational and professional background, but Kellogg has some info on that, too! What does your study and work background look like compared to that of recently accepted students? Well, nearly half of Kellogg’s class of 2023 have a baccalaureate in business or economics (49%). There are also a significant number of students with STEM majors, including healthcare and biology (35%), and Humanities degree holders (21%). As for professional background, those numbers are interesting and varied. They are so varied, in fact, that they warrant their own table. (See below.)

Professions of Kellogg MBA Candidates (Class of 2023)Percentage of Student Body
Financial Services29%
Health and Biology5%
Government, Education, and Nonprofit4%
Consumer Products4%
Media and Entertainment3%

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Lake with view of Northwestern university

Kellogg MBA Program Overview

The Kellogg MBA program emphasizes both scholarship and hands-on-learning. MBA candidates at Northwestern have opportunities to oversee business operations and to participate in faculty-directed research and consulting at the university itself, as well as at government and private sector organizations that partner with the school. Work and study abroad are also available as part of the course offerings.

Majors and Pathways

One thing that makes the Kellogg program different from that of many other business schools is that it offers students something that will be familiar to them form their undergrad studies: the chance to pick a major. Majors are available in the following fields of business study:

  • Accounting
  • Economics
  • Financial Services
  • Management Science
  • Managing Organizations
  • Marketing Management
  • Operations
  • Business Strategy

In addition to majors, there are pathways that can be added to any major. You can think of these as the grad school equivalents of a minor that’s added to a bachelor’s degree. Kellogg’s pathways focus specifically on emerging skills and issues in the business world. Currently, students can choose from eleven different pathways, including cutting edge subjects such as DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), Energy and Sustainability, and Social Impact.

For the full details on the Kellogg MBA majors and pathways, check out Kellogg’s own official page for this aspect of their MBA curriculum.

Is Kellogg a top MBA?

Considering the educational opportunities listed above, what are the Kellogg MBA rankings? Is it truly a top school? According to US News and World Report, arguably the most reliable ranking organization for U.S. universities, Kellogg is well ranked. U.S. News and World Report currently puts Kellog at number 4 for best American business schools, just below the nearby University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and right above the very prestigious Harvard Business School. It’s also not too far below Stanford and Wharton, the top two! Other websites that rank business schools concur, with Kellogg garnering praise form websites such as Forbes and the Financial Times.

Kellogg Part-Time MBA

The array of curriculum features I just mentioned (except perhaps study abroad) are also available to those who choose the part-time Kellogg MBA option rather than the full-time MBA program. The part-time schedule is designed for professionals who work full time and still want to get their MBA. Classes are scheduled evenings (6-9pm) and weekends (choice of Saturday morning or afternoon).

Northwestern University tries to make the part-time Kellogg MBA as flexible as possible. Even if you take this option, you can still attend some of the full-time program classes, if your own work schedule lets you do that. And if you can only go part-time but are still hoping to graduate in 2 years, you’re in luck– there’s an accelerated part-time pathway that allows you to graduate in two years. The “traditional” part-time MBA takes students an average of two and a half years, but can also be done in less than two years or as many as five. In short, you have many different chances to work at your own pace.
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How to Get Into Kellogg MBA: Admission Requirements

The absolute requirements before you apply to Kellogg are pretty simple. In fact, there’s just one absolute requirement: a bachelor’s degree in any discipline! (If you’re entering the one-year accelerated program, it requires some past coursework in business and economics.)

Once you’ve gotten over the basic four-year degree hurdle, though, there are a number of things you’ll need to do during the admissions process. In addition to the standard requirements of past college transcripts and test scores (GMAT or GRE, and IELTS and TOEFL for international students), there are a few other special steps. I’ll outline those below, and you can go to Kellogg’s admissions page for more info and resources, including application deadlines and links to application forms.

Application Essays

The Kellogg MBA program asks applicants for two written 450-word essays. In one essay, you’ll write about a time you “demonstrated leadership and created value.” In the other, you’ll write about your personal values.

Additional essays are required if you’re applying to the one-year program, or other programs beyond Northwestern’s standard MBA program, such as the JD-MBA program. For details on essay instructions and requirements, check out the “Essays” section of Kellogg’s “How to Apply” page.

That page also includes tips and tricks for 3 additional “essays” that are required of all students. Why did I put the word “essays” into quotation marks? It’s because these are not your parents’ essays; these extra three essays are video essays. What’s a video essay? Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. It’s just Kellogg’s term for a short video where you present yourself to the admissions committee. Or rather, three short videos: one where you introduce yourself, another where you explain why you feel the Kellogg MBA is a good fit for you, and a third where you talk about a significant challenge you’ve overcome.

Do those videos themselves feel like a significant challenge? If so, you’re not alone. Kellogg seems to be aware that students are anxious about this “essay” requirement, so they’ve created a whole web page of advice and support for your Kellogg video audition.

Letters of Recommendation

So the “essay” portion is a little complex. In contrast– and this is good news– Kellogg keeps the requirements for recommendations nice and simple: you should submit exactly two recommendations, not more and not less. One recommendation should come from your current supervisor, if possible. The other letter can come from anyone who’s in a position to speak about your professional and leadership abilities.

The basic instructions for writing letters of recommendation are on the Kellogg “How to Apply” page, in the “Recommendations” section. You can pass these directions on to your recommenders.

Admission Interviews

Anytime the camera– or the eyes– are on you, you can feel pressure. And since the Kellogg MBA program interviews all applicants, the interview is as mandatory as the video essays. To help ease some of this extra pressure, Kellogg also has a web page devoted to interview advice and support. The interviews themselves involve both eyes and cameras– in the current pandemic age, all interviews are done remotely!

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Kellogg MBA Employment Outcomes

Now, we talk about a very important business principle: return on investment (ROI). The job and post-MBA salary you get after graduation– and the paycheck that comes with that job– are your return on investment.

As I write this, the Northwestern MBA released its most recent report on alumni employment outcomes in 2020. According to the 2020 intel, by graduation, 84% of students have been offered a job, and 78% of them have accepted a job. Those numbers improve noticeably once three months have passed since graduation. After the equivalent of one fiscal quarter, 94% of students have gotten job offers, and 92% have accepted and started their post-MBA career.

But … what does that career pay? Kellogg crunched the numbers there as well! In the 2020 report, the average pay for Kellogg MBA graduates was $141,576 a year. Bear in mind, though, that this average falls inside a really broad range. Graduates make as little as around $60k a year, and as much as a quarter-million USD per year!

(Source for all this: Kellogg’s own employment outcomes report)
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A Final Word on the Northwestern Kellogg MBA

Kellogg’s greatest assets are its quality and diversity of education (hands on experiential learning, multiple majors and pathways, flexible scheduling, etc…). That diversity of learning does lead to a pretty high diversity of outcomes though, as you saw in the employment stats I showed you above.

Is the school right for you? Now that you’ve taken a close look at admissions requirements, class profile, academics, and post-graduation life, you’re probably much closer to answering that question. And if you already had your heart set on Kellogg when you started reading this post, you’ve now got a lot more info on how to pursue your goal!

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  • David Recine

    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS and MA from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Early in his career, he worked for Disney Consumer Relations, later moving on to become a business banker at Wells Fargo. Once David discovered his passion for education, he started teaching K-12 ESL in South Korea. He soon branched out into adult learning, teaching undergraduate and MBA-level communication and writing classes at American universities. During this time, David also taught business communication to employees at Hyundai, Cargill, and Nestle, and trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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    Few people are as familiar with the ins and outs of the GMAT's sections as is Tom Miller. Since 1995, when the exam was pencil and paper only, Tom has designed, taught, and edited programs for several international test prep companies and MBA programs to address each change in the exam’s content and format. His students have gone on to graduate from many of the world’s top MBA programs.   Tom has authored an acclaimed GMAT grammar crash course, “Verbal Boot Camp”, and has a long track record of helping the “math-phobic” successfully get their scores up to the level required to succeed in business school. He has also helped many students get the superior scores required for scholarships and admission to the world’s top MBA programs.   Tom’s business school experience goes beyond the particulars of the GMAT. He has taught Economics and Statistics as an Executive in Residence and Adjunct Professor at the Butler University MBA program and taught Business Business Law at Stenden University in Qatar, where he was the faculty Senior Lecturer.   Tom has won numerous awards for his publications on leadership, core values, and peak performance in “Proceedings” of the US Naval Institute and is the first enlisted man to win the Navy League of the United States’ Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement.   Tom holds degrees in English, German, and Art History from Indiana University, and a law degree from the Cleveland Marshall College of law. You can connect with him on LinkedIn for further information.

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