Admissions, Exec Application Tips, Executive MBA

Darden 2020 Executive MBA Application Now Live!

By Brett Twitty-
darden-2020-executive-mba-application-now-live

Interested in joining our Executive MBA Class of 2022, enrolling August 2020? Our Executive MBA application is now live! Our first deadline is 10 September, but be sure to check out our Deadlines webpage for a full listing of upcoming deadlines. 

Executive MBA App Launch Webinar

Earlier today, Director of Admissions Brett Twitty hosted a webinar about our new Executive MBA application. A link to a recording of the session is provided below:

Watch the Executive MBA App Launch Webinar

Executive MBA App Launch Podcast

In addition, Brett and Senior Associate Director of Admissions Katherine Alford recently recorded an ExecMBA Podcast episode highlighting our new Executive MBA application. Be sure to check out their conversation for insights about this year’s application process as well as advice for Executive MBA applicants.

Listen to the App Launch Podcast Episode

Top Application Tips

Ready to apply? Here are our top 10 tips for executive format applicants. Be sure to also check out our step-by-step application process guide:

  1. Get to know us (and give us an opportunity to get to know you). From phone conversations and in-person meetings to class visits and networking events, we offer a bunch of ways for you to learn more about Darden. Take advantage of them! Pro Tip: Many of our current students attended more than one event as they researched MBA programs.
  2. Know your story. Believe it or not, our application process is actually a storytelling exercise. And there are several key questions you should keep in mind as you assemble your materials: Why MBA? Why Darden? What are your goals post-MBA? This self-reflection is one of the key benefits of applying to business school, and it will serve you well as you take the next steps in your career.
  3. Make your test plans early. There are a few parts of our application process that are more time-intensive (recommendations, standardized test, etc.). Plan accordingly! We require a standardized test score as part of our Executive MBA application process, and we accept several tests (Executive Assessment (EA), GMAT, GRE, MCAT and LSAT). We will also accept an older or expired test score, but you will need the full score breakdown to apply with an expired score. We also waive our standardized test requirement in select circumstances.
  4. Explore our test waiver request process. Many of our applicants will actually start their application process by submitting a test waiver request. And there is no harm in doing so – even if you are not granted a waiver. The turnaround time on waiver requests is typically 2-3 business days, and this is an easy way to get clarity on whether you will need to take a standardized test to apply to our Executive MBA Program. You can find a link to our waiver request form on our website as well as in our application. To be considered for a waiver, you will need to submit copies of your transcripts, a current resume and a short statement highlighting any aspects of your background you feel are relevant to our Committee’s consideration of your request. Read our blog post about our test waiver request process.
  5. Learn about the Executive Assessment (EA). If you do not qualify for a test waiver and you have not already made significant plans to take the GMAT or GRE, we encourage you to learn about the Executive Assessment (EA).The EA is a 40-question, 90-minute test, and requires on average 20 hours of preparation (as compared to 60+ for the GMAT/GRE). Even better, the EA was designed in consultation with top Executive MBA programs and with executive format applicants in mind. We have been accepting the EA for three years, and we have received scores ranging from the 140s to the 160s. For the past couple of classes, our average score has been 153. Listen to our podcast episode all about the EA. Pro Tip: A standardized test score is just one part of a much broader, holistic review of your application. So, do as well as you can on whatever test you choose to take, but make sure you put together the strongest application package possible.
  6. Give yourself time to write. In our Executive MBA application process, we ask several short answer questions rather than one long essay. These questions are a great opportunity for our Admissions Committee to begin to understand who you will be in our classroom and community. While none of our questions require a response longer than 200 words, you are going to want to make sure you make the most of this section. Once you’ve drafted your responses, set them aside for a while. When you come back to them, share your answers with a friend and ask “Do these sound like me?” And, while your responses should reflect your own thoughts and work, a good editor is always helpful. A fresh set of eyes can help catch those pesky typos and grammatical errors you might miss after reading a draft a few times.
  7. Identify your recommender before starting your application. In our Executive MBA application process, we require one (1) recommendation. The recommendation process is entirely electronic, and it consists of a ratings grid and three short answers questions. It is also one of the slower parts of our application process, and a missing recommendation is typically the reason why most applications are incomplete. Give your recommender plenty of time to complete their materials – but stay in touch! A day or two after you’ve entered your recommender’s information in your application, check back with them. Make sure they received the email with the link to the recommendation materials and they know the deadline you are targeting. A gentle reminder a few days before the deadline is usually appreciated, too. Pro Tip: You will receive an email notification once your recommender submits their materials. Your application checklist will display a red “X” if your recommendation has NOT been received (or a green check if the recommendation has been received).
  8. Acquire your unofficial transcript(s) early. In our application process, we require transcripts for all degree-related coursework, and unofficial transcripts are fine for the purposes of our application. An unofficial transcript is a transcript issued directly to you by an institution, and you can upload a PDF of your transcript(s) directly to your application. Pro Tip: If you are admitted and accept our offer, you will be required to submit official transcripts from all degree-granting institutions to our office prior to the start of school.
  9. Be prepared to tell your story. Our interview process is “blind.” What does this mean? It means your interviewer will NOT have reviewed your application or your resume in preparation for your interview. In addition, our interviews are conversational in nature. They are an opportunity for you to share your story – your background, your education, your career, your goals, etc. – with a member of our Admissions Committee. Each interviewer has his or her own style, but you should be prepared to drive the conversation. Interviews typically last around 35-40 minutes.
  10. Have fun. And last but not least – enjoy the process! Applying to business school is an opportunity to focus on yourself – your development, your dreams, your goals, your aspirations – and, as you know, in our busy lives, it is rare to have time and space to engage in this kind of reflection. You will also meet any number of interesting people as you research programs. Even if you decide not to pursue an MBA, you will build your network and connect with people who share your passions and interests. Everybody wins!
  11. Bonus Round – Scholarship review: All admitted Executive MBA applicants are automatically considered for a merit scholarship award. No additional paperwork required. While our Admissions process is holistic in nature, our scholarship process is narrower in scope and typically focuses on indicators of academic merit. To be competitive for a scholarship award, an applicant must have at least one indicator of academic merit. Having more than one indicator can result in a larger scholarship award. Our awards typically range from $10,000 to $30,000 total, and our average scholarship award is typically around $15,000. As a general rule, we have more scholarship money to award in our earlier rounds. Indicators of academic merit include:
  • Strong GPA (undergraduate, graduate, etc.)
  • Strong standardized test score (EA, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, MCAT)
  • Professional certification(s)
  • Advanced degree(s)

Best of luck in the months ahead and we look forward to receiving your application!