What is Your Dream GMAT Score?

One question that a lot of people have is just what exactly their GMAT score means. They aren’t sure what a “good” score is and how much improvement they can reasonably expect to see after investing time in studying for the test. They may not be certain whether they should apply for programs that have a mean or median score that is higher than what they achieved on their test. Today’s post will break down the four main sections to help you understand these issues better.

Analytical Writing

The mean score for Analytical Writing is 4.4, out of a total possible score of 6. This score is not incorporated into the composite score. The Guidelines for Using GMAT Scores strongly discourage decision making about applicants based on a one-point different on the Analytical Writing Score. The Guidelines also recommend carefully considering that impact of a non-native English speaker’s deficiency in English on his overall test score and to not necessarily see low scores in those cases as an indicator of poor reasoning skills.

Integrated Reasoning

The mean score for Integrated Reasoning is 4.33, out of a total possible score of 8. This score is not incorporated into the composite score. As this section is very new, schools are not reporting the mean or median Integrated Reasoning scores of accepted applicants.

Verbal

The mean score for Verbal is 27.6, out of a total possible score of 60. This total is a bit deceptive though. A score of 9 will place you above just 1% of all test takers, and a score of 45 will place you above 99% of all test takers. So even though the average might be 27.6 and the top score 60, a 42 is an incredible score that puts you in the 96% ranking. In addition, the percentage gains are not constant. For example, 31 to 32 raw score is a 5% increase, 32 to 33 raw score is a 3% increase, 33 to 34 raw score is a 2% increase, and 34 to 35 raw score is a 5% increase. Don’t assume that all 5 point increases have the same impact on your total score or your percent ranking.

Quantitative

The mean score for Quantitative is 37, also out of a total possible score of 60. Note how much higher the quantitative mean is than the verbal mean. Keep that in mind when you are comparing your raw scores to decide on which section to focus your studies. The total is again deceptive. A score of 7 will place you above just 1% of all test takers, and a score of 51 will place you above 99% of all test takers. However, just one point lower, a 50, drops you to the 90th percent ranking and two points lower, a 49, drops you all the way to the 83% ranking. Keep this important difference between the quantitative and verbal sections in mind when you decide whether to take the GMAT a second or third time. If your raw quantitative score is near the top of the scale, getting just a one point raw score increase could be a big deal for your composite score.

Composite

For the composite score, which is made up only of the Verbal and Quantitative Sections, a 544 is the mean score. A 760 will put you at the 99% ranking and a 500 drops you all the way to the 33% ranking. The minimum score is a 200. Because of these variations, it is difficult to predict how many points you can increase with a certain amount of studying. Going from a 400 to a 500 is a 21% increase, which is easier than going from a 500 to a 600, a 29% increase. In general, the lower your score is to begin with, the easier gains are to achieve.

Also remember that the Guidelines for Using GMAT Scores state that there is a standard error of measure of 29 points. This means that if you took the GMAT three months in row without studying in between attempts, you could expect to see a difference of 30 points higher or lower than your original score on each subsequent test. However, because any test, no matter how well designed, can only be an estimate of your abilities, GMAC goes beyond that 29 point error and recommends using a 40 point standard error of difference for decision purposes. What does that mean for you? It means that all else (GPA, work experience, interview, recommendations, etc) being equal, if you got a 600 on the GMAT and another candidate got a 640, your scores should be viewed as equal. It also means that schools are strongly discouraged from having a hard cut-off point for GMAT scores. It wouldn’t make sense to toss an application with a 590 GMAT automatically, when a 590 could be the same as a 610. So don’t discourage yourself from applying for a school that you may think is a little out of your reach based on reported scores of accepted applicants. Be sure to consider all factors that you bring to the application package.

Want more information on how your GMAT score will be interpreted and used by schools? There is no better place to get it then from the folks at GMAC themselves!

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MBA Program Spotlight: Health Care Administration

Health care is a booming industry and shows no sign of slowing down.  Just look at the projections from the US Department of Labor While many of those jobs will be for doctors, nurses, and medical support staff, hospitals and clinics need skilled business professionals as well. Working in health care, you will be able to combine a passion for public health and community engagement with your business acumen. Here are some great options to help you acquire the skills you need to be a leader among medical personnel.

University of Western Ontario (Richard Ivey)

What’s so great about this school?  Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, there has been much comparison between the health care system in the US and that in Canada. As a future MBA student who is interested in health care administration, why not study in Canada and experience the differences for yourself? And if you need further incentive to attend a Canadian school, consider this: Ivey is the top ranked business school in all of Canada and Ivey graduates enjoy the greatest percent increase in their salaries after receiving their MBAs. Studying in Canada also makes obtaining a work visa very simple, so if you want to stay after your studies, you can.

School Type: Public

Median GMAT Score: 669

Average Incoming GPA: not available

Percent of Applicants Accepted: 48%

Student to Faculty Ratio: 6:1

Average Student Age: 28

What’s so great about this school?  Not only is the University of Colorado one of the best MBA programs for Health Administration, but the program also allows students to specialize within that program. The specializations include International Health Management, Financial Management, and Health IT Management. This means that students study in courses that are as closely tailored to their professional interests as possible and have more knowledge to bring to the table when applying for jobs in health care than will most other MBAs. In addition, Denver is one of the top 10 cities for health care careers, so you will have fantastic networking and internship opportunities while in school.

School Type: Public

Median GMAT Score: 600

Average Incoming GPA: 3.2

Percent of Applicants Accepted: 46%

Student to Faculty Ratio: 12:1

Average Student Age: 28

University of Utah – David Eccles School of Business

What’s so great about this school?  The Health Administration specialization at the David Eccles School of Business is a dual degree program in which students can also obtain an MA in Public Administration or Public Health. The extra qualification gives students a wider knowledge base and more opportunities for employment. Students participate in community service health projects and internships that require them to serve in multiple positions to get the widest range of real-world health care experience possible.

School Type: Public

Median GMAT Score: 560

Average Incoming GPA: 3.4

Percent of Applicants Accepted: 99%

Student to Faculty Ratio: 4:1

Average Age: 30

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MBA Program Spotlight: Women in Business

Recent statistics indicate that women in America earn only 77 cents to the dollar when compared to men. Even though that statistic has been disputed and amended several times, and even though the discrepancy cannot be solely linked to discrimination, as a woman about to make a large investment in business school, you want assurance that you will receive a good return on that investment. One way to ensure your future success is to choose a school that understands the unique challenges you will face and places special emphasis on women in business. Here are three great options.

What’s so great about this school?  Pepperdine has been ranked as one of the top ten business schools for women by the Financial Times. Among the reasons cited was the attention given to criteria that matter most to women when selecting a school. These include: the ease of establishing a mentoring network, values-centered learning, a 42 percent female enrollment, and a strong presence of women in the school administration. Pepperdine allows fully employed women up to seven years to complete their MBA so that they can continue to grow their careers as they complete their education.

School Type: Private

Median GMAT Score: 660

Average Incoming GPA: 3.21

Percent of Applicants Accepted: 70%

Student to Faculty Ratio: 18 to 1

Average Age: 27

Babson

What’s so great about this school? Babson is the school for female entrepreneurs. The Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership is the only center of its kind in the world and focuses on research that examines the economic value women create in the business world. In addition, currently enrolled female students cite Babson’s percent of female faculty, supportive culture for female students, rigor of entrepreneurial coursework, and case studies that proportionately reflect women in business as reasons to choose Babson.

School Type: Private

Median GMAT Score: 618

Average Incoming GPA: 3.18

Percent of Applicants Accepted: 70%

Student to Faculty Ratio: 1.5 to 1

Average Student Age: 27

Simmons College School of Management

What’s so great about this school? No men! The Simmons School of Management was the first in the country to design an MBA program just for women and therefore offers an unparalleled educational experience. Gender dynamics are incorporated into classes to help women better understand how to succeed in leadership roles. Other perks of the program include a faculty that is 85 percent female, the opportunity to earn a Health Care MBA or a joint degree with a Masters in Social Work, and access to the Center for Gender in Organizations. This center publishes internationally respected research on gender equity and provides students with unique networking and career advancement opportunities.

School Type: Private

Median GMAT Score: 530

Average Incoming GPA: 3.17

Percent of Applicants Accepted: 94%

Student to Faculty Ratio: 6 to 1

Average Student Age: 30

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MBA Program Spotlight: Schools for People Without Work Experience

If you’ve been browsing information about business school admission, you have probably noticed that most schools have one thing in common – their applicants tend to have between 5 and 7 years of work experience. Spending several years working after undergraduate was the norm for a long time and applicants without work experience didn’t have as good a chance of being accepted into business school as their more experienced peers did. But times are changing, just as they always do. There are many good reasons to move right from undergraduate studies to business school: you don’t have to put an established career on hold for two years, you are less likely to have a family and other important obligations to worry about, you may not be able to find a job, or you may be in an undergraduate institution that offers a great 4 + 1 opportunity so you can complete your MBA in less time. Whatever your reason, if you are considering obtaining your MBA before you enter the work force, here are three schools to consider.

What’s so great about this school?  While Kent’s specialties are accounting and general management, it offers a wide range of unique concentrations and dual degree programs. It is one of the only schools in the nation to offer a dual degree program of business and architecture. Other dual degree programs include a Master of Arts in Translation and a Master of Library Science, and fashion merchandising is among the eight concentrations offered. Students at Kent have only 14 months of work experience on average.

School Type: Public

Median GMAT Score: 616

Average Incoming GPA: 3.36

Percent of Applicants Accepted: 89%

Student to Faculty Ratio: 7:1

Average Student Age: 24

Ohio University

What’s so great about this school? The professional MBA program at Ohio University offers a hybrid learning approach in which classes are held via virtual classrooms but also via Saturday residencies at many locations across the state. This gives students across the state the opportunity to earn their MBA without having to move to Athens or interrupt their work schedule if they want to get a head start on their careers and earn their MBA simultaneously. Ohio University also offers a completely online MBA in Finance, Healthcare, or Executive Management. Students at Ohio University have about 1 year of work experience.

School Type: Public

Median GMAT Score: 562

Average Incoming GPA: 3.3

Percent of Applicants Accepted: 86%

Student to Faculty Ratio: 2:1

Average Student Age: 25

Texas A & M University (Commerce)

What’s so great about this school? Students at Texas A & M University (Commerce) generally have no work experience. Many of the students come from the undergraduate business program and are eligible for the shortened, 30-hour MBA program. If students haven’t already completed core courses in economics, accounting, and management, then they will follow the more traditional 48-hour program. The business college places a lot of emphasis on entrepreneurship in its curriculum and the large student body allows for great networking opportunities for potential small-business owners.

School Type: Public

Median GMAT Score: 460

Average Incoming GPA: 3.0

Percent of Applicants Accepted: 60%

Student to Faculty Ratio: 24:1

Average Student Age: 22

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MBA Program Spotlight: Non-Profit Management

When thousands of middle and upper level managers found themselves out of work years ago after the economy crashed, some took the opportunity to branch out into employment fields that were more closely aligned with their passions for social justice and community service. Unknowingly, they started a major shift in the non-profit world. While previously non-profits tended to recruit people with degrees in social work, education, and health, they began to increasingly look for people with business degrees. They recognized the benefits that employees with financial savvy and business analytics know-how could bring to a non-profit office to complement the talent they had already acquired. The interest in bringing MBA graduates on board has not waned. And while salaries may not be as high as they are in the for-profit sector, the levels of job satisfaction can sometimes exceed those found elsewhere.

What’s so great about this school?  It’s Stanford. Isn’t that enough? Well, if your sights are set on a top-tier school, there are several reasons to choose to Stanford over some of its big name competitors. Stanford’s MBA program was the first in the country to offer students a chance to study public management and has a long track record of education excellence in this area. It now runs a Public Management and Social Innovation program through its business school and this program has over 50 electives in areas of interest to non-profits, including philanthropy, health care, and the environment. If you opt to follow this program to obtain the certificate, you can participate in experiential learning, social innovation study trips, and numerous clubs that will help you expand your professional network.

School Type: Private

Median GMAT Score: 729

Average Incoming GPA: 3.6

Percent of Applicants Accepted: 7%

Student to Faculty Ratio: 2:1

Average Student Age: 25

Willamette University – Atkinson School of Management

What’s so great about this school? Willamette is one of only two MBA programs in the world that is accredited by NASPAA (The National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration), so you can be confident that you are getting not only a stellar business education, but also a stellar non-profit education. The Not-for-Profit Management MBA allows students to specialize in an analytics track, a general management track, or to create an individualized program of study. These specializations guarantee students more time spent in classes that are applicable to their areas of interest and less time wasted in classes that aren’t relevant to their future careers.

School Type: Private

Median GMAT Score: 560

Average Incoming GPA: 3.3

Percent of Applicants Accepted: 41%

Student to Faculty Ratio: 4:1

Average Student Age: 26

Suffolk University – Sawyer Business School

What’s so great about this school? Suffolk University is a convenient option for part-time students, as well as full-time students, because the courses required for the Non-Profit Management concentration are offered in the evenings. Many of the electives teach financial skills: grant management and portfolio management, for example. You can also study skills that are more difficult for non-profit recruiters to find in their candidates, such as labor law and web design, in order to make your resume more attractive to potential employers.

School Type: Private

Median GMAT Score: 498

Average Incoming GPA: 3.12

Percent of Applicants Accepted: 79%

Student to Faculty Ratio: 6:1

Average Student Age: 27

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The Quick and the Quicker: Improving Your GMAT Score

Hey there, future MBA graduates! How are you progressing with the 30 Day GMAT method? What’s that? You say that you haven’t started and you have fewer than 30 days to study? No worries – we have some help for you too!

Introducing 31 quick and easy tips to improve your score! Inside these Ebooks, you will find useful tips that will (no surprise) help you improve your GMAT score in a very short period of time. For example, do you know the difference between an integer and a number? Do you know that average questions could be posed in one of three ways, but they can all be solved through the same simple formula? How many shortcuts do you know for working data sufficiency questions? Or, consider the verbal section. Do you know immediately how to fix the error when the word “like” is in a sentence correction question? Do you know what the common trap answers are for “explanation” questions on critical reasoning? Do you differentiate between “what” and “why” questions in reading comprehension? This is the type of information you can learn in these books to quickly boost your score between now and test day.

Of course, these books aren’t useful only for people who are taking the GMAT this weekend. They can be used in a number of other ways. If you haven’t even started studying yet and aren’t sure whether you want to follow my 30 Day plan, a shorter plan, or a longer plan, you can use these ebooks to gauge your knowledge. If the information given is obvious to you, you might be able to accelerate your studies. If it makes you feel lost, you might need more time. In addition, you can use these books if you have already followed the 30 Day method but want to recap or test your knowledge. You can review key GMAT concepts to make sure you are ready for test day.

And what’s even better – they are just \$1.99 each! Interested? Here’s where to get your own copies:

Amazon: Quantitative and Verbal

Nook: Quantitative and Verbal

Kobo: Quantitative and Verbal

Apple iStore: Coming soon!

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Looking for a Loophole in the GMAT requirement?

Despite some great resources out there (my book!) that can help business school applicants prepare for the GMAT, some people are still terrified of the test. If you are one of those people and despite your very best efforts you just can’t seem to reach the score you want, there is an alternative. No, I’m not talking about going to a school that doesn’t even require the GMAT. You aren’t going to escape that easily. If you want to go to a school that will give you a return on your investment, you are still going to have to take a standardized test. What I’m talking about is the GRE!

The GRE is a test that is generally taken by students who wish to go into graduate programs in social sciences, humanities, arts, and natural sciences. It is similar to the GMAT in that it consists of essays, verbal questions, and quantitative questions. It is also taken under time constraints and is computer adaptive. However, the GRE offers an on-screen calculator and the ability to skip back and forth among the questions in a section. The GRE also uses quantitative comparison questions instead of data sufficiency, and vocabulary questions in place of sentence correction. Over 700 business schools are now accepting the GRE in place of the GMAT.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that you can score more because you are taking a test that might be easier for you. ETS, the company responsible for the GRE, has developed an extensive tool that enables schools to make a proper comparison of GRE versus GMAT scores to ensure that no one gets an advantage by selecting one test over the other. And, of course, opting for the GRE does not influence your GPA, work experience, recommendations, and all of the other factors that determine whether a school will accept you. In addition, almost 30 percent of schools that accept the GRE openly admit that all else being equal, a candidate who took the GMAT will be admitted over a candidate who took the GRE. One final consideration, some business schools offer scholarships based on test scores, or a combination of test scores and GPA. Those scholarships are generally linked only to GMAT scores, so if you took the GRE, you will be ineligible for consideration.

My advice? Stick with the GMAT. With dedication and practice, you can get the score you want. If you do think you’d like to take the GRE instead, just be sure you do your research first so that you don’t place yourself at a disadvantage before anyone has even had time to consider what a great addition you might be to a class.

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MBA Program Spotlight: Supply Chain Management

While Supply Chain Management might not seem like the most glamorous of business professions to pursue, it certain is a wise one. Within this discipline, there are many tracks that are open to the MBA graduate. Supply chain management includes demand forecasting, order management, technological systems integration, warehousing, distribution, and procurement. And supplier management, of course! No business with physical goods can survive without a good supply chain manager, and the importance of this role is increasingly becoming recognized to the point that supply chain managers are earning a place at the very top of their companies. So why not look into the possibilities at the great schools listed below? Who knows—you just might end up with a capital C and a capital O in your job title sooner than you expected.

Washington University in St. Louis – Olin Business School

What’s so great about this school?  Professors at the Olin Business School see Operations and Supply Chain Management not only as a concentration that will lead to opportunities with industry leaders, but also as a great option for those who are interested in a consulting career. Companies looking to expand operations globally or implement new technology into their supply chains will pay top dollar for someone with supply chain expertise, and Washington University in St. Louis is the place to gain that expertise. Students can elect to follow the Strategic Consulting Platform in conjunction with the Operations and Supply Chain Management platform. In these platforms, students take an industry seminar course that puts them in contact with seasoned professionals and gives them experiential learning opportunities. Additionally, students who decide that an MBA isn’t quite the right fit for them can earn a Master of Science in Supply Chain Management instead.

School Type: Private

Median GMAT Score: 698

Average Incoming GPA: 3.4

Percent of Applicants Accepted: 34%

Student to Faculty Ratio: 4:1

Average Student Age: 27

Syracuse University – Whitman

What’s so great about this school? The Syracuse University Supply Chain management program has been consistently rated in the top twenty such programs by more than 8 different MBA ratings organizations. It even received the number one rating by AMR Research—the leading firm in its sector focused on global supply chain best practices and all supporting technologies—in 2009. Syracuse University is also home to the nation’s first supply chain program, established in 1919, and has an excellent track record of job placement success for graduates. Within the program there are six distinct paths of study, so students can find the perfect match for their skill set and interests.

School Type: Private

Median GMAT Score: 627

Average Incoming GPA: 3.5

Percent of Applicants Accepted: 41%

Student to Faculty Ratio: 1:1

Average Student Age: 25

California State University – East Bay

What’s so great about this school? California State East Bay offers lots of flexibility for adult learners, including proficiency requirement waivers, and it has an excellent reputation in the San Francisco Bay area. The number of required electives to pursue a concentration in Operations and Supply Chain Management Option is minimal, so students can also take electives in Information Technology Management, a field that is closely aligned with Supply Chain Management, to increase their marketability. In addition, California State East Bay is less than half the cost of other MBA programs, so it is a great option for those who may not otherwise have the resources to obtain an MBA.

School Type: Public

Median GMAT Score: 553

Average Incoming GPA: 3.1

Percent of Applicants Accepted: 46%

Student to Faculty Ratio: 5:1

Average Student Age: 28

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What if I’ve Never Seen that Question Type Before?

If you have done any GMAT practice yet, you have probably realized that there is plenty of algebra and geometry on the test. Those two question types undoubtedly make up the majority of the questions, so you need to be very comfortable and efficient answering those question types. However, there are a lot of randomly tested concepts that make up the remainder of the questions. If you already have a firm grasp on algebra and geometry, and you still need a good boost in your score, you’ll need to master some of these less common, less predictable questions. Luckily, there is no shortage of them in the Official Guide, 13th Edition. Let’s look at one that involves patterns.

Question number 118 on page 168 involves calculations that don’t fit neatly into equations, although the official explanation would like you to think they do. If you find that you are struggling to create equations for questions that don’t seem like the typical algebra questions you see on the GMAT, you may be better off simply listing out possibilities in an organized way. Here’s how that would work.

In the first scenario for this question, the total number of possible members could be 11, 15, 19, 23, 27, 31, 35, or 39. Those numbers are calculated by taking multiples of 4 and adding 3 to them for the final table with only three members.

In the second scenario, the total possible number of members could be 13, 18, 23, 28, 33, or 38. Those numbers are calculated by taking multiples of 5 and adding 3 to them for the final table with only three members.

23 is the only number in common in both scenarios, so there must be 23 members. 6 goes into 23 three times, with 5 left over, so the correct answer is E.

Many times, the answers to problem solving questions can be found in exactly this way. Just list out all the options according to the rules of the question, rather than struggling to fit the information into an equation. Remember, you aren’t being graded on your work, just on getting the right answer.

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What Does Accounting Have in Common with Legal Fiction?

If you are a numbers person, you are already aware that accounting is a great fit for you. But if you need an even stronger motivation to become an accountant – how about job security? The U.S. Department of Labor predicts that demand for accountants will increase at least 20 percent between now and 2018. Every company needs an accountant, so the possibilities are endless. You can work in-house, you can establish a one-man enterprise and set your own hours, you can work in the public or private sector, you can join one of big auditing firms and break the next Enron scandal, and you can become a CPA and really rake in the dough. Should you tire of your calculator eventually, accounting can also lead to opportunities in finance, compliance, business analysis, upper level management, and even writing (yes, John Grisham has a degree in accounting). Here are three great programs that can set you on your way.

University of Chicago – Booth

What’s so great about this school?  Booth has an unusually flexible curriculum in its fulltime MBA program, so students easily have the opportunity to narrowly define their area of interest within accounting, whether that is corporate accounting, bankruptcy, investing and restructuring, or tax and business strategy. The faculty comes from diverse backgrounds, which means that there is always someone available to the students who is an expert in any given field of interest within accounting. And the extremely low student-to-faculty ratio ensures that the faculty will not only have the qualifications and experience to be great mentors, but will also have the time. Booth students say that the career services office on campus is empty because employers willingly coming knocking on the students’ doors well before graduation.

School Type: Private

Median GMAT Score: 715

Average Incoming GPA: 3.52

Percent of Applicants Accepted: 22%

Student to Faculty Ratio: 3 to 1

Average Age: 28

What’s so great about this school?  The Goizueta accounting program goes beyond spreadsheets and mathematics to incorporate psychology, economics, and a tolerance for ambiguity into the curriculum. Students learn to get inside the minds of business leaders to understand decision-making processes that will enable them to serve their companies best and root out potential problems. 100 percent of students participate in internships while completing their MBAs to gain valuable on-the-job knowledge and start building their professional networks. In addition, in the 2012 Bloomberg Businessweek rankings, Goizueta ranked number 1 for job placement, with 95 percent of students receiving offers within three months of graduation.

School Type: Private

Median GMAT Score: 640

Average Incoming GPA: 3.40

Percent of Applicants Accepted: 40%

Student to Faculty Ratio: 5 to 1

Average Age: 28

University of Rhode Island

What’s so great about this school? The full time MBA option at the University of Rhode Island is one year program that has a cohort of just 25 students. These students often come from one of the many major corporations located around Providence, including Fidelity and Citizens Financial Group, and bring that experience into the classroom for collaborative learning. Students can take classes from any graduate program in the university as their electives, not just those that are part of the MBA curriculum, which gives them the ability to acquire many different skills that will supplement their business acumen. If you want to join the part time program, you have access to the same professors and resources as those in the full time program.

School Type: Public

Median GMAT Score: 562

Average Incoming GPA: 3.00

Percent of Applicants Accepted: 65%

Student to Faculty Ratio: Not Available

Average Student Age: 28

Image courtesy of 401(K) 2012 with Creative Commons License