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How to Get Into Kelley School of Business - Complete Guide

June 12, 2024
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Kelley School of Business Acceptance Rate: 38%Kelley School of Business Admissions StatisticsWhat is Kelley Business School Looking For In Applicants? Kelley Business School Admissions RequirementsKelley Business School Application DeadlinesHow to Improve Your Chances of Getting Into Kelley School of BusinessKelley Business School Essay PromptsKelley Business School InterviewFAQs

Learning how to get into the Kelley School of Business is no easy feat. Part of Indiana University, the business school regularly ranks highly and often trumps its more known counterparts at Harvard or Yale in specific criteria. 

Though the school now offers an undergraduate degree and specialized graduate degrees in finance, healthcare management, and information systems, the jewel in its programming remains its residential full-time MBA program. This two-year curriculum has a mix of classroom and experiential learning.

In this article, we will break down the issue of the Kelley School of Business and discuss its philosophy, special programs, and ideal candidates.

Kelley School of Business Acceptance Rate: 38%

The Kelley Business School acceptance rate is 38%, meaning that they typically accept about a third of students who apply. The acceptance rate tends to hover at around 20-30%, varying slightly for each incoming class. 

How Hard Is It to Get Into Kelley Business School? 

Kelley’s acceptance rate of only 38% indicates that it is moderately selective. To get in, you’ll need a strong application to help you stand out. Aim for a high GPA and competitive GMAT/GRE scores. You’ll also need several years of relevant work experience. 

Kelley School of Business Admissions Statistics

To help you discover how to get into the Kelley School of Business, you may want to be aware of the average statistics of incoming classes. Here is some admissions info from the most recent MBA class profile

Kelley Business School Average GPA: 3.4

The Kelley School of Business has an average GPA of 3.4 on a 4.0 scale. While this is a fairly strong GPA in and of itself, you should always strive to accomplish the highest GPA you can to make your application stand out. Aim for a 4.0 GPA in all your courses. 

Kelley Business School Average GMAT Score: 685

The average GMAT score of Kelley Business School applicants is 685. 53% of applicants scored in the range of 600-699, and 45% of students reached scores of 700 or higher. To be a competitive applicant, you should study hard to meet or exceed the average score of 685. 

Kelley Business School Average GRE Score: 322

Incoming students at the Kelley School of Business hit an average score of 322 on the GRE. This is a very competitive score! The average quantitative GRE score was 164, and 158 for the verbal section. 

Kelley Business School Average Years of Work Experience: 6.4

The average applicant to Kelley has about 6.4 years of work experience under their belt. Work experience proves that you have the skills and expertise necessary to make it in the business world, so the more years of work experience you can gather before applying, the better. 

What Is Kelley Business School Looking For In Applicants? 

Kelley Business School seeks to admit applicants who have strong leadership abilities and communication skills. Teamwork and a collaborative spirit are also important values at Kelley. You should be sure that your essays, recommendations, and resume can all reflect these values.

Intellectual strength is also important to how Kelley Business School evaluates applications. You should be able to demonstrate academic prowess through your transcripts, GPA, and standardized test scores. You also should be familiar with basic math concepts like algebra and statistics, as well as with spreadsheets. 

Kelley Business School Admissions Requirements

To be a successful applicant at Kelley Business School, you’ll need a minimum GPA of 3.4 and GMAT/GRE scores of 685 and 322, respectively. You should also use your supplemental application materials, like essays, to demonstrate your leadership qualities, community service, and collaborative spirit. 

Applying to Kelley is a fairly straightforward process. Here are all the application requirements that you’ll need to submit:  

Kelley Business School Application Deadlines

Applying to business school can be a tedious and busy process. Here are some important application deadlines for Kelley to help you stay on track. 

Application Step Deadline
Round 1 application deadline October 15
Round 1 notifications received December 20
Round 2 application deadline January 5
Round 3 application deadline March 1
Round 2 notifications received March 15
Final round application deadline April 15
Round 3 notifications received April 30
Final round notifications received May 31

Round 1 and Round 2 application deposits are due March 1 and May 1, respectively. For the third and final rounds, your deposit will be due four weeks after receiving your decision notification. 

How to Improve Your Chances of Getting Into Kelley School of Business

If Kelley sounds like the place for you, then you’ll need to put together a stellar application! Here are some tips on how to get into the Kelley School of Business. Learn how to make yourself stand out to the admissions committee and fit the mold of what they’re looking for!

Showcase Your Collaborative Spirit 

To win over Kelley’s admissions committee, applicants should demonstrate their commitment to teamwork and comfort in collaborative settings. Essential components of the MBA program are Student Treks. Like-minded students organize cross-country road trips paved with back-to-back visits to companies whose working culture intrigues them. The landmarks on the itinerary vary based on the interests of students:

“Students interested in the tech industry might head to Silicon Valley to visit Google, Shutterfly and Samsung or Seattle to visit Amazon and Microsoft, while those focused on finance might plan a trek to New York to meet with executives at Bank of America—the goal is the same: to explore new opportunities, companies and careers for a future that best matches the individual.” 

Since these trips are student-led, the admissions committee will seek applicants who can demonstrate a similar sense of initiative that feeds from others’ input.

Find a Binding Thread to Your Experiences

Kelley also seeks applicants who know themselves and can boil down their range of experiences according to simple guiding principles. The admissions committee expects applicants to pitch themselves, like the succinct pitch of a good business idea too, through their resume or admissions essays.

Kelley’s famous Me, Inc. program aims to train students along these self-reflective lines to help you “develop an in-depth understanding of yourself—your personal brand and how to connect your past experiences to your future goals in a way that resonates with employers.”

The admissions committee is more likely to admit applicants with a promise to flourish in the Me, Inc. program. Kelley hopefuls are therefore advised to work on self-reflective exercises and draw the common denominators behind their academic and professional experiences prior to completing their applications. 

Show an Interest in Social Good

Kelley’s MBA curriculum is also valued for its promotion of social good, and admitted students are expected to contribute to the university’s outreach and community work in Bloomington, Indiana. Several programs require the sympathy and zeal of engaged citizens.

Included among its experiential learning components is 1Kelley Consulting, in which students use their business insights to “work with local businesses owned by women and underrepresented minorities, or organizations that empower these groups.” 

Kelley also offers a Certificate in Social Entrepreneurship, where students use their “business know-how to work solving global problems—from building clean water supplies to improving opportunities in emerging economies.”

Given the level of social engagement inherent to the MBA program, the acceptance rate is likely higher for applicants who already demonstrate a similar commitment to social good.  

Insert Your Business Ethos Within a Global Context

Kelley strives to be a global institution, and it expects its students to adopt the full range of its cultural and geographical horizon. Included among its international programs is GLOBASE, an initiative that “sits at the challenging, exciting intersection between business and global development in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia.”

Long before the pandemic began, GLOBASE inserted students in a series of research-based remote work with foreign clients, followed by a week-long trip to their respective sites abroad. Kelley also has existing partnerships with ESSEC Business School in Paris and the National University of Singapore Business School.

Given its international programming, applicants should tailor their application to reflect our increasingly globalized world.

Kelley Business School Essay Prompts

Your MBA essays are a significant part of your application to Kelley. They will provide the admissions committee with insight into your personality, background, and opinions and will help them get to know you better on a personal level. 

Applicants are encouraged to be honest, informative, creative, and concise. Remember to be genuine as you write and to tell your authentic story! 

Here are the required essay prompts for Kelley’s MBA program: 

  • “Discuss your immediate post-MBA professional goals. How will your professional experience, when combined with a Kelley MBA degree, allow you to achieve these goals? Should the short-term goals you have identified not materialize, what alternate career paths might you consider? (500 words)
  • Respond to one of the following short essay prompts. (300 words)
  • My greatest memory is…
  • I'm most afraid of…
  • My greatest challenge has been…
  • I'm most proud of…
  • Share a brief fact about yourself that your classmates would find interesting, surprising, or noteworthy. (25 words)”

You may also choose to respond to this optional addendum question: 

“Is there anything else that you think we should know as we evaluate your application? If you believe your credentials and essays represent you fairly, you shouldn't feel obligated to answer this question. (300 words)”

Kelley Business School Interview

Interviews are not required for admission to Kelley Business School and are offered by invitation only. Note that not every applicant will receive an interview invitation, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive one. You may receive an invitation at any point in the application process until shortly before decisions are released. 

Interviews are conducted by the admissions committee members over Zoom. If you’re invited to interview, remember to dress appropriately, be friendly and confident, and prepare some questions of your own to ask! 

FAQs: How to Get Into the Kelley School of Business

1. My undergraduate degree was not in business. Can I apply to Kelley’s MBA program?

Absolutely. Kelley’s MBA program does not require a bachelor’s degree in business for admission, so you can apply with any degree. In fact, among the Class of 2025, 24% will come from humanities or social science backgrounds.

2. Can I pursue the MBA online regardless of changing pandemic restrictions?

Even before the pandemic, the Kelley School of Business provided its students with the freedom to pursue a fully online MBA program. That said, it has a different application procedure than the residential MBA.

3. I was told that Kelley’s MBA program is STEM-focused. I like STEM, but too much of it worries me. Will someone without a strong scientific foundation do well in the program? 

Though Kelley’s MBA program expects all their students to navigate numbers and charts in scientific ways, their major in management is the only one that is not STEM-designated. Students who prefer more qualitative sides to business can opt for management as their primary major.

4. I am both interested in finance and marketing. Can I double major?

Absolutely; double majoring is very plausible at Kelley. After completing their chosen major’s required coursework, students are left with enough credits to work toward a second major as well as a few electives.

5. I have been working full-time for a while. I am worried too much classroom time could affect the good working habits I have developed over the years. Will the program expose me to hands-on work?

Yes. Hands-on work is an essential element of Kelley’s MBA program. Their special experiential program, Bloomington Brands, recreates a regular work environment and provides a chance to “manage the marketing activities for a nationally distributed product while still a student.”

6. I don’t have too much working experience (< 2 years). Will Kelley value the volunteer and community work I also did?

Although it’s an important aspect of your application, there is no set requirement for work experience, and volunteer and community work is also very important at Kelley Business School! 

Kelley’s admissions committee is especially eager to hear from engaged citizens. The business school even has a Washington Campus where students get to “meet face-to-face with policymakers, explore how regulatory changes really get made and see how those changes affect both corporate and nonprofit organizations.” 

Students with impressive community work are encouraged to link them to such programs.  

7. Is it OK if I took the GMAT twice?

Yes, taking the GMAT twice is not a problem in your application to Kelley Business School. Luckily, Kelley’s admissions committee is happy to consider an applicant’s best scores.

8. Who should write my letter of recommendation?

Because Kelley is most interested in its applicants’ professional experiences, your recommendation letter should ideally be written by a recent or current job supervisor. 


Though learning how to get into the Kelley School of Business can be difficult, prospective students are encouraged to give a shot to a university known for its flexibility and sense of innovation.

Recent Kelley alumni, Max Brickman, was named to the Forbes Under 30 List for 2022. With subsequent lists likely to include more Kelley graduates, prospective students should place Indiana on their radar and start preparing an application for their valuable MBA program.

About Inspira Futures

At Inspira Futures, our sole focus is to get you accepted at your dream business school. Our team of experts consists of former admission committee members and alums from Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB, and other M7 schools. Our goal is to help you write great essays, ace interviews, and win scholarships. Without any stress or hassle. Our clients have gone on to secure admits at the world's top business schools while also being winners of some of the most prestigious scholarships like Stanford Knight Hennessy, HBS Baker Scholars, and many others.
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