Mendoza School of Business

Meet Notre Dame’s MBA Class of 2017

Published: November 9, 2015 / Author: Jeff Schmitt

This story was published on the Poets & Quants website on Nov. 4, 2015.

There’s a certain aura that comes with the Notre Dame brand. Step onto campus and you’ll quickly be awed by landmarks like the Golden Dome, Touchdown Jesus, and the Basilica. Here, you can lose yourself in traditions like the Trumpets Under the Dome — or imagine legendary figures like Knute Rockne strolling across the quad. From “Win one for the Gipper” to “Play like a champion today,” Notre Dame reminds us of a world where a code of faith and fair play is the fabric that binds, the spirit that empowers, the example that inspires, and the promise that redeems.

When it comes to Notre Dame, Coach Lou Holtz once observed, “If you’ve been there, no explanation is necessary. If you haven’t, none is adequate.” You could easily say the same about the Mendoza College of Business. It is a school founded on intangibles, where business is a social mission. Like any full-time MBA program, Mendoza rigorously teaches subjects like modeling and analytics. The difference, however, is how it challenges students to “ask more of business” every day. Ultimately, the program’s success is based on producing value-driven leaders who live authentically, practice transparency, and build community.


Beyond its vocation, Mendoza offers several advantages for potential applicants. For starters, the school is just a 90 minute drive from Chicago – home to over 30 Fortune 500 companies. The full-time MBA cohort is rather small – deliberately so – with the 2017 Class consisting of just 122 students. As a result, students develop close ties to classmates and faculty, giving them a close look at the principles that guide them and the practices that make them successful. Such close quarters also foster a supportive atmosphere, where classmates and faculty cheer as students carry on the tradition of ringing a bell when they land a job or internship. What’s more, Mendoza graduates are bound by shared values as much shared experience. That’s one reason why Mendoza MBAs are so welcome in any of Notre Dame’s 276 alumni clubs (and why the program ranks 5th in the Financial Times’ latest poll of b-school alumni effectiveness). Translation: Mendoza grads can tap the Notre Dame network to open doors in most industries, companies, or countries.

The vocational nature of Mendoza’s curriculum also beckons students to act far outside the confines of South Bend. For example, one popular course is “Business on the Frontlines,” where students head to war-torn lands like Rwanda or Lebanon to research the problems on the ground and identify potential opportunities and solutions for NGOs and business leaders. Some students also use the school’s “Interterm Intensives” – a week where students take short courses – to work with nonprofits overseas. The school also sponsors international immersion trips, as well as a summer internship to work with entrepreneurs in nations ranging from Haiti to Kenya.

Mary Goss

Mary Goss

The global view dovetails perfectly with Mendoza’s admissions philosophy, which targets team players who are involved in their communities and willing to get their hands dirty. And this description could easily apply to Mendoza’s Class of 2017, which includes the CEO of a three year-old marketing firm, a major and helicopter pilot from the U.S. Marines, and a research associate for the Office of Condoleezza Rice (another Notre Dame alum). “It’s cliché to use the phrase ‘the whole package,’ but it really describes our students both as the Class of 2017 and as individuals,” writes Mary Goss, senior director of Notre Dame Graduate Business Programs. “They’re bright, they’re ambitious, they represent diverse backgrounds and interests.  But they’ve also chosen Notre Dame because they are looking for that deeper element in a program of meaning and values. They want to have a larger impact on the world.”


In 2014-2015, Mendoza received 692 applications, down from the 735 apps submitted for the 2016 Class. Overall, the program accepted 280 applicants and enrolled 122, good for a 40.4% acceptance rate – up from 34.8% in 2013-2014.

Academically, the new class arrives with a 682 average GMAT and a 690 median, with scores ranging from 620 to 740 at the middle 80%. In terms of undergraduate GPA, the 2017 Class brings a 3.31 average and 3.29 median, with GPAs starting at 2.79 and going to 3.83 in the mid-80% range. Undergraduate humanities majors represent the largest percentage of the class at 27%, followed closely by engineering at 26% and business at 20%. The class is rounded out by math and science (12%) and economics (9%) majors.

As a whole, the class is 27 years old on average and possesses 5 years of work experience, with experience stretching from 27 to 100 in the mid-80% range. Women and international students each comprise 30% of the class, with American minority students accounting for another 22% of the class. The highest percentage of the class – 15% — comes from financial services. The class is also includes large blocs of students who previously worked in consulting (11%), information technology (10%), education (7%), manufacturing (7%), and manufacturing (7%).

How Mendoza’s Class of 2017 Compares

Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business enrolls a small class of just 122 MBA students with 30% international from 14 countries

School Texas Olin Emory Notre Dame UNC Rice
Applications Received 2,293 1,581 1,460 692 2,357 775
Incoming Class 265 141 166 122 276 110
Average GMAT 694 695 678 682 701 676
GMAT Range 640-740* 570-770 620-740* 620-740* 640-750 * 640-710**
Average GPA 3.4 3.4 3.4 3.3 3.4 3.3
Female % 32% 40% 34% 30% 30% 35%
International % 28% 35% 35% 30% 32% 22%
Countries Represented 19 17 15 14 28 16

Notes: * middle 80% range

University of Notre Dame, Mendoza College of Business


In a world where options are often bad or worse, leaders are increasingly wondering, ‘Am I doing the right thing?’ There are so many unknowns. And the temptations are always there: The ease of ignoring alternatives; the speed of taking shortcuts; the safety of looking the other way; and the comfort of avoiding commitment and action. As a result, Mendoza’s ethics-coated teachings are both a guide and a benchmark, a means to translate the dilemmas and soften the ripples that bedevil modern business.

For the Class of 2017, Mendoza provides a model for how business should be conducted, a vision for the future that graduates are entrusted to create. And this class believes it is up to the challenge. That’s why students like Benjamin Kingdon, a marketing agency CEO from WInnipeg, chose Mendoza in the first place. “I began with Stephen Covey’s strategy of starting with the end in mind,” he writes. “I knew I wanted to transition into the consulting industry and I understood that my passions were competing, winning, and problem-solving. However, I believe in the power of business as a force for good and a source for sustainable change. When I researched programs I learned about Notre Dame’s tradition of competition, winning, and academic excellence. In addition, I learned about its guiding principle, “Ask More of Business,” which paralleled my own values of success and serving the community.”

The unquantifiable nature of the Notre Dame experience also drew students like Louisville’s Benjamin Hota, a Marine Corps veteran who most recently worked in financial planning and budgeting at Humana. “The quality of character I encountered through my emails, telephone conversations, and interview visit amazed me,” he exclaims. “I could definitely tell that there was something going on here much greater than any one individual. It’s very easy to pick up on the sense of community at Notre Dame. People here don’t just talk the talk; they walk the walk.” “I can’t describe it,” adds Will Moran, a Naval Academy graduate who re-located his family of seven to South Bend. “There’s just something about this place, and it’s very cool to be here. I feel so proud and excited every time I bring my family on campus, and my boys race to be the first one to see “The Golden Dome” through the trees. There’s definitely some future “Domers” in this family.”

The Golden Dome

Perhaps Jessie Sun, previously a product manager at the Bank of China, sums up the Notre Dame value proposition the best: “I chose this program not only to acquire knowledge, but also to chase a meaningful life.”


Not surprisingly, when it comes to what their graduation goals, many Mendoza first-years point to paying their blessings forward. “Giving back is something that is very important to me,” Hota shares. “First, I would like to increase awareness to veterans that business school is an excellent option. I believe that veterans possess skills that are extremely transferable to business (i.e. leadership, teamwork, and decision making).  Second, I would like to give back to future students. I want to give others the opportunity that I had with respect to finding out what the program is really about.  Lastly, I would like to give back to the local community.  This includes volunteering at a soup kitchen, spending time at a local community center, and organizing events that bring people together.”

Robert James Wine, on the other hand, hopes to strike that elusive balance in all areas of his career. “I want to achieve fluency in both the hard and soft skills of business. Effective leadership thrives where savvy interpersonal communication flows in congruence with solid technical knowledge. Furthermore, I want to understand how to strategically engage in corporate socially responsibly while maintaining successful wealth creation.”

Then again, Moran just wants to savor the moment, a reprieve to refresh and retool before heading back out to the workforce. “I wish there was a 3-year MBA! Perhaps the fact that I graduated from college 11 years ago gives me more perspective than some of the younger folks in that regard. Obviously, I’d like to use all of the many available resources to decide on a particular business concentration and find a great job. But my point is that I want to make the most of my short time at Notre Dame, and I can already tell that it is going to fly by way too fast.”

To read profiles of incoming Mendoza students – along with their advice on tackling GMAT, applications, and interviews – click on the student links below.

Benjamin Hota / Louisville, KY

Mohamed Kakay / Roanoke, VA

Benjamin Kingdon / Winnipeg, Manitoba

Will Moran / St. Louis, MO

Elizabeth Sadler / Hingham, MA

Jessie Sun / Nanjing, China

Joanna Tooker / Phoenix, AZ

Robert James Wine / Burkeville, VA

Topics: Main, Mendoza