The University of Michigan Ross School of Business: Everything You Need to Know


The University of Michigan is one of the top public universities in the United States. Like the school’s other prestigious graduate programs, including law, medicine, and public policy, its MBA program is consistently ranked in the top 15 in the country.


What are the key strengths of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business (also known as Michigan Ross)? It offers a well-rounded general management curriculum, complemented by many signature hands-on learning opportunities, including the following:

  • the Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP) course, through which all Ross MBA students complete consulting projects for companies and nonprofits (located either in the United States or abroad) during the last seven weeks of their first year
  • the Leadership Crisis Challenge, a role-playing competition that puts Ross students in the decision-making shoes of an executive facing a dilemma

A Ross education prepares students for a variety of careers, with consulting (42.0%) and marketing/sales (22.9%) being particularly popular post-MBA paths. Michigan Ross is also a fitting choice for candidates with an interest in operations—the Tauber Institute for Global Operations (to which Ross MBA applicants can apply at the same time) trains students for a global career in the field. In addition to offering a health care management concentration and ample health care–related electives, Ross recently has made a strong effort to draw health care industry aspirants, with the 2019 launch of the Pinkert Scholars Program (funded by Eleanor and Michael Pinkert, BSE ’64, MBA ’65), which provides a full ride each year to top Ross MBA candidates who are focused on the business of health care and health care innovation.

Given the strength of the University of Michigan’s other graduate programs, Ross also attracts candidates interested in dual degrees. Notably, students with a strong passion for environmental sustainability have the option of doing a joint MBA/MS program through Michigan’s Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise. And those with a keen interest in the intersection of business and societal challenges can complete an MBA/master’s in public policy through the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

Prospective students considering the Ross MBA program, especially those who have not visited the school, might wonder, “What is it like to live in Ann Arbor, Michigan?” Many candidates who are seeking a true campus vibe with the amenities of a larger city feel that Ann Arbor offers both. On Saturdays in the fall, the whole town turns maize and blue to cheer on the football team, the Michigan Wolverines. The university’s basketball and hockey teams also draw plenty of excitement and spectators. Apart from the campus revelry, Ann Arbor offers a vibrant and active arts, brewery, café, and dining scene. Two restaurants just north of downtown—Zingerman’s Roadhouse and Miss Kim (both of which are part of the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses)—were semifinalists for James Beard Awards in 2020. The vibrancy of the town is driven in part by Ann Arbor’s active research and technology scene—Google has an office there, and Ann Arbor is also home to Duo Security (the first unicorn start-up based in Michigan).

Above all, what sets Michigan Ross apart in the eyes of its community is its collegial culture. At Ross, MBA students are divided into six sections of 70–85 students each, and members tend to show strong allegiance to their sections even after graduation. Alumni describe Rossers as “accomplished yet humble” and the environment as heavily collaborative, with students enthusiastically helping each other master new academic concepts and prepare for job interviews—even for positions they are competing for. Newly accepted candidates get a taste of this culture at Go Blue Rendezvous, the Ross admitted-student event that showcases the Michigan school spirit (cheers of “Go Blue” are frequent) and the business school’s welcoming nature, featuring activities such as a scavenger hunt and smaller group dinners.

The highly streamlined Ross MBA application does not give you much space in which to explain your perceived fit with this culture, but you will have the chance to do so in your interview if you advance to this stage of the process. In your application, you want to focus on concisely communicating your professional and personal accomplishments through your resume and essays, and have your recommender (one is required) attest to your strong performance, potential, and growth. Fortunately, mbaMission offers a depth of resources and services to help you on your application journey.


Michigan Ross and Social Entrepreneurship/Impact

In its commercials during televised football games, as well as in PSA videos, the University of Michigan highlights its significant impact on the Ann Arbor community through initiatives in medicine, environmental sciences, and technology. This university spirit of “doing good” permeates the Michigan Ross School of Business, which has a long-standing commitment to social impact.

The Ross Business+Impact initiative—a major resource for Ross students interested in social issues—offers a Board Fellows program, speaker events, and sponsored consulting internships via its Summer Fund. The Ross Net Impact chapter, designated as a Gold chapter for multiple years, has previously hosted the organization’s annual conference (held in a different location each year) and provides various social entrepreneurship resources to students interested in this track. Additionally, in honor of Professor C. K. Prahalad (who passed away unexpectedly in 2010), Ross offers a MAP option focusing on the relationship between profit generation and social value creation, a fellowship for students to work on action-based learning projects, and the C. K. Prahalad Grand Challenge, a competition that gives students the opportunity to build a business plan for value creation at the base of the pyramid.


mbaMission’s Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business Insider’s Guide

The Michigan Ross MBA Insider’s Guide

After consulting with Michigan MBA students, admissions committee members, and alumni about their Ross experiences, we have prepared our Insider’s Guide to the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. We take an in-depth look at life as a Michigan Ross MBA student, highlighting how the school’s location, class size, curriculum, teaching methods, facilities, alumni involvement, and rankings all affect its culture and MBA experience. Then we delve into Ross’s faculty (including renowned finance professor Gautam Kaul) and professional student clubs, revealing how they facilitate the careers of Ross MBA students. Through our guide, you will learn more about the hands-on learning philosophy that underpins the business school—evidenced by distinctive resources such as the Social Venture Fund, the Zell Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies’ Michigan Business Challenge, numerous student-run conferences, and other such opportunities. Further, you will come to understand how the LEED-certified 270,000-square-foot Ross building, along with other features of the campus, facilitates collaboration and socialization among students and underscores Michigan’s commitment to sustainability.


Michigan Ross Interview Guide

The Michigan Ross School of Business Interview Guide

Ross interviews—which are most often conducted by students or alumni but occasionally by admissions officers—tend to be friendly and conversational in nature. However, Ross applicants should not get so comfortable that they lose their focus and fail to provide the admissions committee with the critical information that their trained Ross interviewers are seeking. Ultimately, through behavioral questions, the interviewer will generally ask about past experiences to gain insight into your decision-making abilities and your values. Further, you will need to be ready to share why you are a good fit for the school, offering particular reasons why the Ross culture appeals to you and why your post-MBA goals can be best served via the business school’s mix of teaching styles and resources inside and outside the classroom.

Note that in 2018 and 2019, the Michigan Ross School of Business included an optional team exercise component in its interview experience for applicants interviewing on campus and in a few select locations off campus. Ross described this additional exercise as an opportunity for candidates to get to know potential classmates, as well as for the admissions committee to gauge applicants’ interpersonal and communication skills and to better assess their overall fit for Ross. For the 2020–2021 application season, the exercise was dropped because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Ross has not yet announced whether it will reinstate it. For more information, including examples of Ross interview questions, check out our University of Michigan Ross School of Business Interview Guide.


Michigan Ross Essay Analysis, 2021–2022

In our view, the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan takes a very no-nonsense, just-the-facts approach to its application essays (even the scope of its optional essay is relatively narrow). The school presents two “short answer” questions, giving candidates a choice of prompts for each, and asks applicants to submit what are essentially mini essays of just 100 words. Ross’s director of full-time MBA admissions, Diana Economy, mentions in an application tips video that these mini essays give applicants “the unique opportunity to share something that might be very personal” to them and recommends considering what the Ross admissions committee already will learn about you from your resume, recommendations, and other application materials.

In Ross’s (still rather concise) 200-word career goal essay, candidates share and explain their short-term professional aspirations, thereby demonstrating for the admissions committee that they have a plan in mind and have given serious thought to why they need a Ross MBA to achieve their goals.

For the optional essay, no specific word limit is stated, but applicants are gently encouraged to use bullet points in their response, reinforcing our impression that the program really just wants the key facts about its candidates, without any extraneous filler.

In our analysis, we provide in-depth guidance on each of Ross’s MBA application essay questions:

  • Part 1: Short Answers
    Select one prompt from each group of the two groups below. Respond to each selected prompt in 100 words or less (<100 words each; 200 words total).
    • Group 1
      I want people to know that I:
      I made a difference when I:
      I was aware that I was different when:
    • Group 2
      I am out of my comfort zone when:
      I was humbled when:
      I was challenged when:
  • Part 2: Career Goal Essay
    What is your short-term career goal and why? (200 words)

Click here to read our analysis

Michigan Ross MBA Program Class Profile (Class of 2023)

Class Size 398
Average GPA 3.53
Average GMAT 722
GMAT Middle 80% Range 690–760
Average GRE (Verbal) 160
Average GRE (Quant) 160
Average Years of Work Experience 5
Women 46%
International 28%
Countries Represented (including the United States) 42
U.S. Students of Color
(percentage of U.S. citizen/permanent resident matriculants who identify as any ethnicity group except white, non-Hispanic)

Michigan Ross MBA Rankings

The Michigan Ross School of Business was ranked number one domestically in the Economist’s 2021 rankings, moving up six positions from 2019 (the Economist did not publish MBA rankings in 2020). In the 2019 Bloomberg Businessweek U.S. rankings, Ross was ranked 17th—one spot higher than in the previous survey—and was not included in the most recent instance of those rankings (likely because of the atypical ranking procedures arising from the COVID-19 outbreak).

In the 2022 U.S. News & World Report MBA rankings, Ross fell one spot, from 12th to 13th (tied with the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business) in the United States. In that publication’s specialty rankings, the school was included among the top five in the following areas: project management (tied for number two with Boston University’s Questrom School of Business), production/operations (tied for number three with Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management), marketing (number four), executive MBA (number five), and management (number five).

In addition, the Princeton Review’s 2021 survey of 244 MBA programs named Ross number one in the Best Administered category, number two in the Best Professors category, number four in the Best MBA for Human Resources and Greatest Resources for Women categories, and number five in the Most Family Friendly category.

Michigan Ross MBA Application Deadlines (2021-2022)

Round 1
September 20, 2021

Round 1 Decision
December 8, 2021

Round 2
January 10, 2022

Round 2 Decision
March 18, 2022

Round 3
April 4, 2022

Round 3 Decision
May 11, 2022

mbaMission Testimonials from Michigan Ross MBA Applicants

Melissa Blakeslee is the reason I got accepted!

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