Application Tips, Exec Application Tips, Executive MBA

Getting Started With the Executive MBA Application: Our Five Best Tips

By Brett Twitty-
getting-started-with-the-executive-mba-application-our-five-best-tips

Executive MBA applicants, just like our Executive MBA students, have very busy schedules, so it’s only natural that candidates will use the upcoming winter holidays to get organized. If you are planning to dive into the Executive MBA application process over the coming weeks, we have five tried and true tips for making the most of your time. 

Darden’s Executive MBA program is approaching the midpoint of the application cycle for the Class of 2023, but there is still plenty of time to hone your application to join the next Darden class. We still have seats and scholarship money available, and historically speaking, the 10 January, 10 February and 10 March deadlines are typically some of our most popular rounds. 

Planning to apply? Join us on Monday, 21 December, at 12:30 p.m. EST for our Executive MBA Application Planning webinar. During this informative session, Darden Admissions will share tips and insights for candidates planning to apply in 2021 including what components of the application to prioritize over the winter holidays. Register for the webinar. Submit questions in advance or bring them to the live session — our goal is to help you plan for your best application!

Here are five easy steps to help you get started on your Executive MBA application this holiday season:

1. Familiarize yourself with our application process

Executive MBA candidates often ask about our deadlines. Why so many? How do they work? Each deadline functions as an individual round within the admissions cycle for the Class of 2023, and all deadlines are focused on one enrollment date — August 2021. Each deadline has its own target interview period, decision release date and deposit deadline. 

We have monthly deadlines to offer Executive MBA candidates maximum flexibility. We know how busy our applicants are, and life occasionally happens while people are working on their application. Monthly deadlines give applicants the peace of mind to know that if they have to shift their application timing another opportunity to apply is only a few weeks away.  

2. Review the application

One of the hardest things about being an applicant is that each school you are targeting will ask something a little different from you. Sure, there are commonalities — resume, recommendations, transcripts, etc. — but there are also important differences. 

With this in mind, we recommend taking a few minutes to read through our application. In this first pass, don’t worry about filling anything out. Just read. Make a list of the materials you will need in order to apply. As a next step, be sure to check out our Application Process web page for a step-by-step guide and links to helpful resources.  

3. Review  our application resources

Speaking of helpful resources, if you are applying to our Executive MBA program, be sure to take a pass through the Executive MBA app tips section of the Discover Darden blog. From recommendations to interviews (and beyond), this blog section contains a host of insights about our Executive MBA application process.  

Check out the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section of our website for more information about the structure and design of our Executive MBA program. while the Admissions FAQs offer even more tips for details for applicants. We also have several application-themed episodes of our podcast, The ExecMBA Podcast. New episodes publish every Friday — add the podcast to your weekly download!

4. Make your test plans

We recently shared that Executive MBA candidates have two options when it comes to standardized tests: Submit a standardized test score or submit a test waiver request. 

There are really two primary questions to consider as you make your test plans: 

  • Do you think you can make a strong case for a test waiver?

We evaluate test waiver requests along with an applicant’s full application, and you will find our test waiver request in the Test Scores section of our Executive MBA application. 

What kind of information is potentially relevant to our waiver request evaluation? Consider those aspects of your educational and professional background that can give us a sense of your academic readiness for Darden. This includes things like undergraduate and graduate coursework, non-degree-related coursework (i.e. Coursera, MBA Math, HBS CORe, etc.), professional certifications as well as work responsibilities. 

  • Do you think your application would benefit from having a more recent data point regarding your academic readiness?

As you put together your application, we encourage you to think about your materials as our Admissions Committee will — holistically and objectively. 

There are some candidates who may benefit from having a standardized test score. For example, if your undergraduate GPA is lower or your academic/professional background is less quantitative or analytical, a test score is one way of providing our Admissions Committee with a recent data point for your readiness for Darden’s rigorous academic experience. 

For even more details about standardized test options, review our recent blog post “Insights on Standardized Test Waiver Requests for Darden’s Executive MBA Program”

5. Contact your recommender(s)

The recommendation is typically the slowest part of the application. Why? Well, it’s the one part of the application you can’t actually complete! Applicants usually ask a supervisor, a peer, a client, etc. to take time out of their busy schedules to share their insights with our Admissions Committee. 

For this reason, we typically advise giving your recommender about two weeks to submit the materials, although the recommendation materials will likely take no more than 30 to 45 minutes of focused work to complete.  

The good thing to know about recommendations is that in our Executive MBA application process, only one recommendation is required, although up to three recommendations are accepted. In addition, our recommendation process is completely electronic, and it does not require your recommender to submit a formal letter. 

For additional insights about recommendations, be sure to check out our recent blog post, “Executive MBA Application Tips: Recommendations”  

Ready to begin your application? Get started today. Best of luck and happy holidays!