Exec Application Tips

Understanding Our Exec Application: Format Selection

By Susannah Fuller-

Our Exec Application Tips series rolls on! Today, we explore a technical application-related question we regularly receive from executive format applicants, but be sure to also check out our previous posts on standardized test waiver requests and company support letters. We also recommend our ongoing Application Tips blog series for even more insights about applying to Darden.

Pro Tip: Have you heard the ExecMBA Podcast? If you’re new to the pod and planning to apply, we recommend starting with our application-related episodes (Application Process Overview and Applicant FAQs). The Exec Video Blog is also a source for advice and updates, including information about our scholarship process, Executive Assessment (EA) score ranges, program design and more!   

One of the more common application-related questions we receive around these parts goes as follows: “Just what does the Admissions Committee do with the format information in my application?” Great question!

Let’s start with the application. As you know, we offer two executive formats – Executive MBA (EMBA) and Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) – in one base location – the Washington, D.C. area (Rosslyn). The relevant application question is as follows:

“What is your preferred format?”

For this question, the drop-down answer choices are Global Executive MBA, Executive MBA, Both.

Okay! But what does all this mean? Well, when you apply to Darden, you are applying to our Executive MBA Program, not to any particular format. In fact, on your application, as the language of the questions indicates, you are simply indicating your preferred format(s). It is absolutely helpful to our Admissions Committee to know your thinking at the time of applying, but this information is not binding on you or our Admissions Committee, as it only reflects a preference.  

In fact, we typically offer admitted students the broadest set of format options available at the time of admission. So, for example, while you may have indicated a preference in your application for our GEMBA format, you may receive an offer for your choice of formats (either EMBA or GEMBA).

Why do we do this? Well, we find that students may not always be fully aware of both formats when assembling their application materials. We have many examples of students choosing GEMBA after being initially focused on EMBA (or vice versa), and we want to make sure you have every opportunity to consider the full range of available options before accepting your offer. 

However, it is worth noting the “at the time of admission” caveat in the previous paragraph. There is no doubt that we can be more limited in terms of format availability in the later rounds of our admissions cycle, as our class begins to fill. So, if you are focused on a particular format, we recommend applying earlier in our cycle, when we have maximum availability. And what is “earlier”? While every year in unique, we typically have the most flexibility in our September through April rounds, and things can get a little tighter in the summer months (May/June). 

A couple other important pieces of information:

An applicant may only accept a format he/she was offered. Admitted students record their format selection when accepting their offer (via our Decision Notification form), and our Admissions Committee confirms the students’ format in a subsequent email. But don’t worry about committing this process to memory. There’s plenty of time to sort through all these details.

Have questions about which format is the best fit for you? We are here to help! Feel free to email us at ExecMBA@darden.virginia.edu.