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Sloan MBA Class of '97 is tops in size, diversity

A sculptor, a journalist, a farmer, a diplomat, a teacher, two jet fighter pilots, several lawyers and a passel of entrepreneurs. This is just a small sampling of the 350 individuals who make up the largest and most diverse master's degree class ever to enter MIT's Sloan School of Management.

Women constitute a record 28 percent of the class, up from 24 percent last year, and 16 percent of the class are minorities, also the highest percentage in the School's history.

Sloan boasts the largest contingent of international students of any top business school. Thirty-seven percent of the new class come from 60 countries around the world, ranging from former Iron Curtain countries to booming Asian nations. Japan, Mexico and Argentina top the list, with 26, 18 and 11 students respectively.

Applications to Sloan shot up by 40 percent this year to more than 2,300, making it possible to expand the class size by 20 percent as planned without sacrificing the School's high standards.

"We've had a record-setting year," reported Rod Garcia, director of master's admissions. "Since the applicant pool grew at a far greater rate than our planned expansion, it was actually tougher for these students to get into Sloan."

Ages of the entering class range from 22 to 39, with an average of 28.5. Engineering remains the top undergraduate major, although the percentage slipped to 45 percent from 52 percent . At the same time, the percentage of students with degrees in humanities and sciences climbed from 32 to 38.

Members of the new class have an average of 4.5 years of work experience. They come to Sloan from a broad spectrum of industries, including consulting, finance, automotive, telecommunications and aerospace.

According to Dean Glen L. Urban, Sloan's diversity is one of its greatest strengths. "What the students bring into Sloan has a great deal to do with what they get out of it," he says. "We encourage students to explore each other's cultures and perceptions in order to develop a more global view as well as to establish relationships that will serve them well after they graduate."

Dan Swift agreed. Trained as a sculptor and aiming for a career in technology, he chose Sloan because of the chance to interact with practicing professionals and a diverse set of peers while gaining critical skills.

"I've always been drawn to science. Fine arts and the creativity of scientific thinking definitely connect to each other," he said. "I came here to pursue one of Sloan's well-defined management tracks, initially either in strategic management or information systems, although during orientation I've been speaking to engineers and gotten excited about new ventures and entrepreneurship. I really think Sloan will give me what I need to succeed in today's marketplace."

Sloan's highly acclaimed undergraduate program in management science also grew by a record 40 percent this year, with 150 students now enrolled. In addition, the School has 93 students in its world-renowned PhD program.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 13, 1995.

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