The Stanford Graduate School of Business: Everything You Need to Know


The Stanford Graduate School of Business (“the GSB”) is the most selective MBA program in the world, admitting only an estimated 9% of its applicants for the Class of 2024. Why is the GSB so popular? Many would argue that its symbiotic relationship with Silicon Valley has pushed this elite MBA program to new heights—countless Stanford GSB graduates have become venture capitalists and start-up entrepreneurs, adding to the lore of the school. Still, the GSB’s impact can be felt far beyond Silicon Valley; Nike founder Phil Knight, General Motors CEO Mary Barra, and social entrepreneur Jacqueline Novogratz are all graduates, and only 15% of students in the Class of 2024 have a background in the tech industry. So maybe arguing that Silicon Valley is the appeal is an oversimplification, but students generally agree that the GSB is the place for those who are unashamed to pursue big dreams.

Beyond that, the GSB’s warm California weather and reputation for a close-knit and laid-back community (punctuated by its legendary “Touchy Feely” course, which is a catalyst for soft-skill development), along with the sky-high annual salaries that its graduates initially command ($182,272 on average for the Class of 2022), contribute to its desirability and selectivity. So with the Stanford GSB receiving 6,152 applications and matriculating 424 students for the Class of 2024, you need to think carefully about what you offer and how to carve out your place in the class. Fortunately, mbaMission offers a depth of resources and services to help you on your journey.


mbaMission’s Stanford Graduate School of Business Insider’s Guide

The Stanford Graduate School of Business Insider’s Guide

After consulting with Stanford MBA students, admissions committee members, and alumni about their GSB experiences, we have prepared our Insider’s Guide to the Stanford Graduate School of Business. We take an in-depth look at life as a Stanford GSB student, highlighting how the school’s location, class size, curriculum, teaching methods, facilities, alumni base/involvement, and rankings all affect its culture and MBA experience. Then we delve into the GSB’s standout faculty and unique professional student clubs, revealing how they facilitate the careers of GSB MBA students. Through our guide, you will learn more about the spirit of innovation that runs through the Stanford GSB—the Venture Studio, Startup Garage, interdisciplinary, and other such resources and opportunities. Further, you will come to understand how a campus once known as “the Farm” is now shaped by the Knight Management Center, with its numerous meeting spaces and environmentally sustainable design. Of course, you can also read up on the Interpersonal Dynamics course (colloquially known as “Touchy Feely”) and gain a sense of its place in a larger leadership program, highlighted by the Executive Challenge and Leadership Labs, which are facilitated by second-year MBA Arbuckle Leadership Fellows. Stanford GSB dean Jonathan Levin has been guiding the Graduate School of Business since 2016—through our guide, you will experience the remarkable program that continues to develop under his watch.


Stanford GSB Interview Guide

The Stanford Graduate School of Business Interview Guide

Stanford GSB interviews—most often conducted by Stanford GSB MBA alumni—have a casual air, but GSB 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 GSB interviewer is seeking. Ultimately, through behavioral questions, the GSB alumni (approximately 85%) or admissions committee interviewer (approximately 15%) 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 your post-MBA goals can be best served via the Stanford Graduate School of Business’s resources. For sample essay sequences and commentary from past students, check out our Stanford Graduate School of Business Interview Guide.


Stanford GSB Essay Tips, 2023–2024

The Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) requires only two essays of its candidates, though its long-standing first essay question—about “what matters most” to applicants—is one we have seen many people struggle with over the years. The largely open-ended nature of the prompt often stymies candidates, who understandably want to avoid making any wrong moves in their application. The GSB’s second essay question is comparatively straightforward, asking applicants to explain why they have chosen the school for their MBA, but crafting the best possible response will demand some thorough research into what the institution offers and an ability to clearly show a connection between certain resources and the candidate’s unique personality and needs. With a 1,050-word total allowance for the school’s two required essays and 1,200 characters (not words) for its optional short-answer question, applicants need to be judicious in selecting their desired messages and succinct in conveying them. Read on for our full analysis of the GSB’s essay and optional question prompts.

In our essay analysis, we provide in-depth guidance on each of the Stanford GSB’s 2023–2024 essay questions:

  • Essay A: What matters most to you, and why?
  • Essay B: Why Stanford?
  • Optional Question 1: Think about times you’ve created a positive impact, whether in professional, extracurricular, academic, or other settings. What was your impact? What made it significant to you or to others? (You can share up to three examples—up to 1,200 characters, or approximately 200 words, for each example.)

Click here to read our analysis

“What Matters?” and “What More?”: 50 Successful Essays for the Stanford GSB and HBS (and Why They Worked)

“What Matters?” and “What More?”: 50 Successful Essays for the Stanford GSB and HBS (and Why They Worked)

The application essay questions for the world’s two most competitive MBA programs—Harvard Business School and the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB)—are notoriously challenging. Even if these schools had more generous acceptance rates (currently 10% and 6%, respectively), their essay prompts would still vex candidates with both their simplicity and their open-ended nature. Yet therein lies the beauty of these essay questions—you are in control! You are a unique individual, and this is your chance to show HBS and the GSB who you really are and why you are an applicant worthy of admittance.

Having helped hundreds of candidates gain acceptance to these programs, Jeremy Shinewald of mbaMission and Liza Weale of Gatehouse Admissions, in partnership with Poets&Quants, have pooled their collective experience to now help you. Using a carefully curated collection of 50 successful essays to HBS and the GSB, they have broken down why each one worked and created a truly essential guide to crafting essays for these schools more confidently and effectively.

“What Matters?” and “What More?”: 50 Successful Essays for the Stanford GSB and HBS (and Why They Worked) is a 190-page digital book offering the following:

  • Actual HBS and Stanford GSB essays, submitted by past candidates who were ultimately admitted, along with expert commentary on the strengths (and sometimes weaknesses!) of each one
  • Ten “pairs” of essays for HBS and the GSB, showing how the same candidate approached the two schools’ differing essay prompts
  • Two essays by reapplicants, highlighting useful tactics for writing these essays the second time around
  • Overviews and examples of four different approaches you can take to composing your essays: thematic, inflection points, single anecdote, and mosaic
  • Best practices for each program’s essay question, such as how to handle the prompts’ vastly different word counts and what not to include in your essays

The widely varying essays in this guide prove that no one definitive path to success exists. On the contrary, the schools are clearly open to a vast range of topics, experiences, styles, and voices. The guidance, samples, and critiques in “What Matters?” and “What More?” will help you find the best approach for sharing your strongest stories with these programs—and position yourself for success! If you plan to apply to Harvard Business School or the Stanford GSB, this book is a must-have resource!

$24 $60

Stanford GSB Class Profile (Class of 2024)

Total Applications 6,152
Class Size 424
Average GPA 3.76
Average GMAT 737
GMAT Range 630–790
Average GRE (Verbal) 164
Average GRE (Quant) 163
GRE Verbal Range 149–170
GRE Quant Range 150–170
Average TOEFL (Internet-based test) 113
TOEFL Range 106–119
Average Years of Work Experience 4.9
Range of Years of Work Experience 0–18
Women 44%
International 37%
Countries Represented
(including the United States)
U.S. Students of Color
(includes, as percentage of total class, U.S. citizens, dual citizens, and permanent residents who identify as American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Other Pacific Islander, Asian American, Black / African American, Hispanic / Latino, or Multiethnic)

Stanford GSB Business School Rankings

The Stanford Graduate School of Business has consistently placed in the top ten, if not the top spot, of most popular business school rankings for many years. It is arguably one of the most selective business schools in the world and, quite subjectively, the school rivals HBS in terms of prestige and competitiveness.

Bloomberg Businessweek ranked the GSB first in their 2022–2023 U.S.-based ranking. Stanford GSB stood in sixth spot in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, sharing the position with Dartmouth Tuck. In the Financial Times 2023 ranking, the GSB was fourth internationally and second domestically, in a tie with Harvard Business School. Finally, Poets&Quants ranked the GSB third within the country in 2022.

Stanford GSB Deadlines (2023–2024 Application Season)

Round 1
September 12, 2023

Round 1 Decision
December 7, 2023

Round 2
January 4, 2024

Round 2 Decision
March 28, 2024

Round 3
April 9, 2024

Round 3 Decision
May 23, 2024

mbaMission Stanford Graduate School of Business Client Testimonials

Rachel is Fabulous

Rachel helped me with my application to the Stanford GSB and she is an absolute GEM. Over the course of a few weeks she was able to guide and steer me in the right direction and her understanding of the entire application process is unparalleled relative to others in the market. She is approachable, kind, insightful, thoughtful and deft. She is super responsive, honest, hard-working and her work is like alchemy. Had it not been for her I would have never gotten into my dream school. You need her on your team helping you through this tough process because she is so passionate and because she is an absolute pleasure to work with. Truly first class and wonderful.

Admitted to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton

I write this testimonial as someone who was accepted to Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton in a historically competitive admissions cycle. Even if I did not achieve these incredible outcomes, I would value Katy’s services equally highly...As an HBS alum and former member of the Stanford GSB admission committee, she brings a true depth of understanding to the application process. Moreover, Katy has years of experience working with clients specifically targeting the top three MBA programs in the country...Katy was incredibly proactive at all stages of the application process.

1000% Recommend Melissa Blakeslee and mbaMission!

Melissa is an A++++ MBA Consultant! I had about 6 introductory calls with other consultants who I was unsure about but 10 minutes into my call with Melissa I knew I wanted to work with her! She was extremely helpful even in our 30-minute intro call about how I can most effectively bring my story to life.

I was an hourly client with Melissa and the brainstorming sessions were instrumental to my business school success. Melissa provided me with guidance on what stories I should share and when. Without her help, I 100% believe I would not have been able to produce essays that got me into four of the five programs I was admitted to Stanford GSB, MIT Sloan, Kellogg, and Wharton.

Melissa is extremely personable, friendly, and energetic!! She is professional and communicative while remaining supportive during an incredibly stressful process. I'll be attending Stanford GSB this Fall and I can't thank Melissa enough for her support! I 100% know I would not have been so successful without her support. Anyone would be lucky to work with her.

How Julie-Anne Heafey Guided Me to Stanford GSB

For the first time in a free 30-minute consultation, someone went beyond basic parameters such as my GMAT score, GPA, or my age. Julie-Anne patiently took the time to listen to my story and holistically understand my goals. On that same day, I signed a 6-school-package with her and we started right away to craft my applications.

On my resume, Julie-Anne was strategic, helping me to not only evince the quant skills the admissions officers expect from good candidates, but also translate my achievements to a more clear business language. On my essays, Julie-Anne’s sharp and direct questions helped me to significantly tell my story and consistently explain how an MBA would allow me to achieve my next goals. For each of the six schools, she kept dedicated, reviewing countless versions of my applications.

It was a long process, but Julie-Anne was always motivating and supportive, pushing me to overcome myself, find my voice, and deliver the candidacy that allowed me to be admitted to Stanford.

Susan Helped Me Get Into My Dream School

Susan is able to identify your greatest strengths as a candidate, and enables you to craft an application that truly shines with these characteristics. She is completely honest and meticulous with you throughout the essay editing process instead of taking the easy route and approving of your essays once they’re in “good enough” shape.

I came to Susan for help with my applications only 2 months before the deadline, and even with our condensed timeframe I was able to take the GMAT, construct my essays, and polish them to a great quality. There were times even 2 weeks before the deadline (due to my condensed 2 month timeline) where I was not sure my drafts would come together, yet I was able to secure admission to my dream MBA program, Stanford GSB.

Needless to say, I highly recommend Susan.
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