Real World. Real Learning: IMD MBA Admissions Q&A


 According to BusinessWeek, “global MBA programs are showing themselves to be more selective, more rigorous, and more desirable to recruiters.” Shouldn’t you explore the possibility that IMD‘s intensive, 10-month MBA will be a better fit for you? Come learn about IMD’s admissions policies, program, and student life in our interactive Q&A on Tuesday, June 14, 2011 at 8:00 AM PT/11:00 AM ET/5:00 PM Swiss time, with Lisa Piguet, Associate Director of Admissions and Marketing. Don’t miss your chance to discover why IMD’s unique business approach, “Real World. Real Learning,” has made the program a leader in the global business scene.

Register now to reserve your spot for the IMD MBA Q&A.

What time is that for me? Click on the link to find out the exact time for your location.

Photo credit: LouisL ~ Helping You Write Your Best

IMD 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips

This IMD 2011 MBA Application tip post is one of a series of posts providing MBA application and essay advice for applicants to top MBA programs around the world. You can access the entire series at My tips for answering IMD’s essay questions are in blue below.

The Two Questions Before the Essay Questions:

1) Position sought after graduation

Please give us your short term career goal post MBA (up to 5 years). Describe how the IMD MBA will help you achieve this goal and how you will approach your job search.

Forward-looking, connect-the-dots MBA goals question with a twist. To answer this question, you need to know what you want to do after you complete IMD’s short, intense programs, and you also need to relate how that program will help you achieve your MBA goal. Finally, you have to show that you have a plan for your job search. That last element implies that you know what IMD career services provides and how you intend to use and supplement it.

2) Most important achievement

What do you consider to be your single most important achievement and why?

Your single most important achievement should ideally show impact, leadership, and cross-cultural and cross-functional savvy. If you can’t have all the above, make sure you have at least two.

You have room here for a story. Don’t think for an instant that IMD wants the great American novel for this essay. Keep it succinct, but this essay should engage the reader. Afterall, it is your most important achievement. You may want to review a few of these resources before writing:

Finally, realize that the “why” is as important as the “what.” Convey those reasons in your response.

IMD 2011 Essay Questions

Essay 1: Two situations of importance to you

Situation 1 (maximum 1230 characters)

Situation 1 (maximum 1230 characters)

Before responding to any of IMD’s questions, review its criteria for admissions, which are posted on its website and in a video on YouTube.

Then choose two experiences that demonstrate the qualities IMD seeks and complement each other, the other essays, and the other elements in your application.

Realize that the character limits work out to around 200 words, and that is not a lot of room. Be succinct, and include both the challenge and why you think it is worth including in your IMD application. Why do you care about it?

Essay 2: Failure to reach objective

Briefly describe the failure — and make it a real one, taking responsibility for your actions and showing self-awareness. Bring out what you learned and how you have implemented those lessons successfully in more recent situations.

Essay 3: Leadership

Describe a situation where you had to demonstrate strong leadership skills. Explain how effective you were and what you learned. (maximum 1230 characters)

Leadership takes many forms, but it usually involved persuasion and motivation of others. What did you do? What was the impact? And what did you learn — what worked and why? Have you had occasional to repeat the experiment subsequently with equally beneficial results?

Essay 4: Describe yourself

How do you imagine your superior would describe your strengths and weaknesses to someone who does not know you. (maximum 1230 characters)

Take a look as a recent review from your boss. You will probably find a good source there. You may also want to review:

Essay 5: International Exposure

Describe a situation where you successfully worked across cultures and/or nations. (maximum 1230 characters)

This is a very important essay for IMD, a school that values its global culture and cross-cultural experience. Describe the situation briefly, a challenge unique to international work environments, and how you met it. If you have room, lessons learned are always good to include.

Essay 6: Differentiators

IMD receives numerous applications per year. Give us four bullet points that clearly differentiate you from this applicant pool. (maximum 1230 characters)

Your essays up to this point are probably very professionally focused. Several of the bullet points could be personal. Think about that IMD video I suggested you watch. IMD wants to know about you as a person, as well as you as a professional. This may be a great place to inform the reader of distinctive features in your background or personal life. Your resume and the other essays will have already told them about unusual aspects of your professional life.

Essay 7: Alternatives

If you are not admitted, what alternatives will you consider? (maximum 1230 characters)

How will you achieve your professional goals discussed earlier in the IMD application if you are not admitted to an MBA program? How would you acquire the skills you seek?

Essay 8: Finance

Please explain how you intend to finance your studies at IMD. What would be your budget? (maximum 1230 characters)

Just answer it. Loans, your own funds, parental assistance? Whatever it is, provide the answers. The same is true of the budget question.

Essay 9: Disability / illness 

Do you have a disability or illness that could affect your performance at IMD? If so, please explain. (maximum 1230 characters)

If necessary, describe the disability and how you intend to compensate for it. Also show that you have compensated successfully for this illness or disability in the past.

Essay 10: Additional Information

Optional question: Is there any additional information that is critical for the Admissions Committee to know which has not been covered elsewhere in this application? (maximum 1230 characters)

Between IMD’s nine essay questions and two questions preceding the essay questions, this may be the one application where the optional essay is really unnecessary. Nonetheless, if you have something to explain — a low GPA, a gap in employment, etc. — this is the place to do it.

IMD 2011 Application Deadlines

February 1; April 1; June 1; August 1; September 1 

While you can choose any of the above deadlines, we encourage you to apply as early as possible.

Our rolling admissions process helps us to assemble a unique mix of participants who will maximize your learning. After each deadline, the IMD MBA admissions committee reviews all the complete applications and performs an initial evaluation.

Within 6 weeks, we inform you if we would like to meet you for the on-campus assessment day.

If you would like help with your IMD MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and admissions consulting or an IMD MBA School Package, which includes advising, essay editing, and a resume edit for the IMD MBA application.

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of





A Few of the Mostest at

This is the time of year to look back at the most, best, (worst), etc. I am going to stick to the positive.

Top Ten Most Visited Accepted Admissions Almanac Posts of 2010:

In a nutshell, rankings and application tip posts rule. (I am only listing the current tip post when last year’s tip post also made the list):

  1. Financial Times Global 2010 MBA Rankings
  2. Forbes ROI MBA Rankings for 2010
  3. Harvard HBS 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  4. INSEAD 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  5. NYU Stern 2011 MBA Application Questions, Tips, Deadlines
  6. Common Application Essay Tips
  7. Columbia 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  8. 2010 MBA Rankings Released by BusinessWeek
  9. Kellogg 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips
  10. London Business School 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips

Three Most Commented Accepted Admissions Almanac Posts of 2010

  1. Harvard HBS 2010 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips (269)
  2. INSEAD 2010 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips (246)
  3. INSEAD 2011 MBA Application Questions, Deadlines, Tips (60)

Keep ‘em coming! (Please post your questions about this year’s applications on this year’s tips.)

Five Most Popular Articles on of 2010:

  1. Go for the Goals in your Statement of Purpose
  2. Tips for Writing Letters of Recommendation for Medical School
  3. 4 Must-Haves in Residency Personal Statements
  4. MBA Admissions: Low GMAT or GPA 
  5. Sample MBA Interview Questions

Most Popular Resources of 2010:

Our Absolute, Best, Most Superlative Asset: YOU, our readers, followers, fans, subscribers, and most of all, our clients.

On behalf of Accepted’s staff, this post is where I

Thank you, all of you Acceptees, for making 2010 our best year ever!

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of

International MBA Programs: Are Global B-Schools Right for You?

Thinking about applying to an international MBA program? Like the idea of having international experience on your resume, but don’t know much about your global options? Not sure if you should attend an internationally-run program or an American-based program transplanted to foreign soil? 

Internationalizing the MBA, a special report written by Accepted editor and international b-school expert, Tanis Kmetyk, will explore the pros and cons of joining the overseas MBA scene, helping you make your big decision—should you study for your MBA on home soil, or take the leap and head abroad to an international or American b-school in a foreign country?

Learn whether an international MBA is right for you by understanding the strengths and weaknesses of these different programs.

Download  Internationalizing the MBA.

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of

Financial Times Global 2010 MBA Rankings

The Financial Times  published today its 2010 ranking of global MBA programs. Its ranking attempts to “assess the effect of the MBA on … subsequent career progression and salary growth.” Consequently it draws its data from the schools themselves and from surveys of graduates at least three years after earning their MBA degree. In building its rankings, FT analyzes “alumni salaries and career development; the diversity and international reach of the business school and its MBA programme; and the research capabilities of each school.” For complete information on FT’s methodology, please see “Getting to Grips with the Method.”

Rather than list all my important caveats for using rankings, I’ll simply refer you to our MBA Rankings Report.

The best business schools according to FT:

  1. London Business School
  2. University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
  3. Harvard Business School
  4. Stanford GSB
  6. Columbia Business School
  7. IE (tied with Columbia)
  8. MIT Sloan
  9. Chicago Booth
  10. Hong Kong UST Business School

I have long argued that far more valuable than the overall rankings are the specialty rankings. Here are FT’s specialty rankings:

Top for international business
1 Thunderbird School of Global Management
2 University of South Carolina: Moore
3 Georgetown University: McDonough
4 Insead
5 George Washington University
6 Hult International Business School
8 Manchester Business School
9 University of Southern California: Marshall
10 London Business School

Top for finance
1 University of Chicago: Booth
2 New York University: Stern
3 University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
4 Rice University: Jones
5 University of Rochester: Simon
6 London Business School
7 Columbia Business School
8 Macquarie Graduate School of Management
9 University of Iowa: Tippie
10 University of Toronto: Rotman

Top for accountancy

1 Brigham Young University: Marriott
2 University of Chicago: Booth
3 University of Texas at Austin: McCombs
4 New York University: Stern
5 Macquarie Graduate School of Management
6 University of Rochester: Simon
7 Cornell University: Johnson
8 University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
9 Rice University: Jones
10 Texas A & M University: Mays

Top for entrepreneurship
1 Babson College: Olin
2 Stanford University GSB
3 Imperial College Business School
4 UCLA: Anderson
5 University of California at Berkeley: Haas
6 MIT Sloan School of Management
7 University of Cambridge: Judge
9 Wisconsin School of Business
10 Insead

Top for economics
1 University of Chicago: Booth
2 Cranfield School of Management
3 MIT Sloan School of Management
4 Yale School of Management
5 University of Rochester: Simon
6 Imperial College Business School
7 Melbourne Business School
8 University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
9 IE Business School
10 New York University: Stern

Top for corporate social responsibility
1 University of Notre Dame: Mendoza
2 University of California at Berkeley: Haas
3 Yale School of Management
4 Ipade
5 University of Virginia: Darden
6 Brigham Young University: Marriott
7 Esade Business School
8 University of Michigan: Ross
9 University of North Carolina: Kenan-Flagler
10 Thunderbird School of Global Management

Top for general management
1 University of Virginia: Darden
2 Harvard Business School
3 Ipade
4 Dartmouth College: Tuck
6 University of Michigan: Ross
7 University of Western Ontario: Ivey
8 Northwestern University: Kellogg
9 Stanford University GSB
10 Duke University: Fuqua

Top for marketing
1 Northwestern University: Kellogg
2 Duke University: Fuqua
3 Indiana University: Kelley
4 Ipade
5 Esade Business School
6 Wisconsin School of Business
7 Imperial College Business School
8 University of Michigan: Ross
9 HEC Paris
10 Cornell University: Johnson

By Linda Abraham, President and Founder of

Financial Times European B-school Rankings Are Out!

The Financial Times released its 2009 European Business School Rankings this week. Take some time to read up on FT’s ranking methodology and to play around in the extensive databases and charts which rank the top European B-schools programs as well as graduate salary rankings.

Top 10 European Business Schools
1.    HEC Paris, France
2.    London Business School, UK
3.    Insead, France
4.    IMD, Switzerland
5.    IE Business School, Spain
6.    Iese Business School, Spain
7.    Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Netherlands
8.    Esade Business School, Spain
8.    EM Lyon Business School, France
10.    Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, Belgium

Top 10 European MBA Programs
1.    London Business School, UK
2.    Insead, France
3.    IE Business School, Spain
4.    Iese Business School, Spain
5.    IMD, Switzerland
6.    University of Cambridge Judge, UK
7.    Esade Business School, Spain
8.    University of Oxford Said, UK
9.    Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University, Netherlands
10.    Lancaster University Management School, UK

Top 10 European EMBA Programs
1.    HEC Paris, France
1.    London School of Economics and Political Sciences, UK
3.     London Business School, UK
4.     Insead, France
5.     IE Business School, Spain
6.     IMD, Switzerland
7.    Iese Business School, Spain
8.    City University, Cass, UK
8.     Essec Business School, France
8.    Mannheim Business School, Germany

So how are graduates of these schools doing, amidst a global recession? And how are they responding to the recession? According to Della Bradshaw, author of FT’s “Business as Usual?,” the economic recession has actually benefited most MBA programs. While those programs that could “no longer stand the heat” have been “weeded out,” other top European business schools have reported a 20 percent increase in applications. Some b-schools are even expanding their programs to make room for the eager MBA prospects.

On the downside, more MBAs and fewer jobs do not always make for the best equation. Recent reports show that only 75 to 85 percent of MBA students are employed, down 10 percent from last year. ~ Helping You Write Your Best

MBA Admissions: Visit IMD Virtually

I just received an announcement from IMD, the top Swiss MBA program, and I want to share it with you:

Do you want to be one of the 90 exceptional people to make it into IMD’s one year leadership development program?

This year, the IMD MBA has been ranked #2 worldwide by the Wall Street Journal, Forbes and The Economist, and alumni voted its career services office ‘best in the world’.

Deciding where you do your MBA is a life-changing decision, and visiting the campus is typically the best way to get a feel for a program. However, for those of you who are unable to visit us in person, we would like to invite you to join us online for a virtual campus visit.

See a videoed tour of the campus, join an interactive presentation about the program and admissions process, understand if your profile fits with our participants, and ask any questions you may have.

The next visits will take place on 17 November and 4 December. Register here for these or future events.
We look forward to meeting you soon!

Best regards,

The IMD MBA Team

I completely agree that visiting a school is the best way to learn about it. However, reality — everyone cannot visit every campus they are interested in — and modern technology are leading to innovative approaches to assist those too far to fly.  

IMD with its virtual visit program is offering an excellent option. The virtual visit will never be as good as the in-person one, but it should be a solid second best and a great alternative for those who can’t make it to Lausanne.

Currently more and more top business schools are using video on their web sites. More and more are providing venues for interaction — online forums, blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter streams, and chat as well as offline events. Indeed many top business schools have participated in the over 230 MBA admissions chats Accepted’s has hosted over the last 10 years. I think you’ll see more and more schools combining video and chat/forums into virtual visits as they strive to meet applicants needs. 

MBA Admissions News: Tuck, Rankings, Global Entrepreneurship, MBA Interviews

Let’s take a look at a few developments during a busy October for MBA applicants:

  • The Dartmouth News published an article about the increasing percentage of women at Tuck with a couple of factoids about Harvard and Wharton. Unfortunately, there is an inaccuracy in the article regarding a non-existent experience requirement at Tuck. I checked with Dawna Clarke, Director of Admissions, who clarified,  “While the average years of work experience (at matriculation) is 4-5 years, that is not a requirement for admission.”
  • The Economist this week published its eighth annual rankings of international business schools, which it bases on responses to surveys sent to students/alumni and over 100 top MBA programs. The criteria are “open new career opportunities; personal development and educational experience; increase in salary; and potential to network.The Economist’s Top Ten:
  1. IESE
  2. IMD
  3. Haas
  4. Chicago
  5. Harvard
  6. Tuck
  7. Stanford
  8. London Business School
  9. Wharton
  10. Vlerick Leuven Gent
  • New Global Entrepreneurship Program. EMLYON in France,  Babson College in the USA, and Zhejiang University in China have partnered to create the first ‘Global Entrepreneurship Program’ which opens its doors this month. The program begins with 65 students, who will study on each of the three campuses en route to earning an MSc in Entrepreneurship.
  • First round deadlines are slowing getting checked off, and their passing means that round one interview invitations will be arriving soon. In fact, they have already started to arrive. As a result, BusinessWeek just published an excellent piece, “Acing the MBA Application Interview“, which I want to bring to your attention along with the many MBA interview resources at Accepted, specifically:

MBA Admissions Events Next Week: IMD Chat, Best Practices Webinar

Accepted is hosting two, special MBA admissions events next week:

On Monday, May 18, 2009 at 10:00 AM PT/1:00 PM ET/7:00 PM Swiss time, Lisa Piguet, Associate Director of Admissions, and a current IMD MBA student will participate in an admissions chat devoted to IMD‘s program, admissions, and culture. The chat will take place in the Accepted chat room. Please mark your calendars and join us on Monday.

Accepted’s first webinar, “Best Practices for MBA Admissions” will take place on Thursday May 21. If you are worried about what you should be doing now to prepare for your MBA application next fall and winter, this is the event for you. We will cover:

  • What the Four Pillars of a Successful MBA Application are.
  • How to choose your target programs.
  • When and how to address your weaknesses.
  • How to demonstrate “fit.”
  • How extra-curricular activities strengthen your application.

Both the chat and the webinar are free, but you do need to register to obtain access information for the webinar.  Mark your calendars and see you then.

The European MBA Alternative

Mobility has long been a by-word for MBA graduates, so amidst the current economic woes and uncertain MBA job market, more and more applicants are considering an MBA outside the US. In fact, a study this month by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation shows that a growing number of students believe they will find better job opportunities outside the US.

An international MBA is the springboard to open professional doors in Europe, the Middle East or Asia. With their typically shorter programs (the majority of international MBAs are one year), business schools in Europe offer an ROI that attracts candidates who would have otherwise have opted for top US business schools.

Back in 1998 BusinessWeek gave only a glancing acknowledgement to business schools outside the US. Ten years later, the rankings testify to the strength of the international MBA market. So who are the contenders to the European MBA throne?

Not surprisingly IMD, INSEAD, and London Business School fare well in the major rankings, and are a familiar trio to applicants around the world. But Cambridge-Judge, ESADE, HEC, IE, IESE and Oxford-Saïd are catching up fast. In fact, by combining the results of the most recent full-time MBA rankings from the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, The Economist and BusinessWeek, the combined scores show these schools moving ever closer. 

The new elite of European business schools all outperform in different ways:

Cambridge-Judge and Oxford-Saïd in the UK are relative newcomers to business education (their MBAs began in the mid-Nineties), but the earnings power and employability of their graduates continues to propel them. And amidst the dreaming spires of the 800 year-old universities the business schools are developing reputations for international management and entrepreneurship.

HEC Paris shines among the top schools in France – in fact the alumni reads like a Who’s Who of European business. Ranked #1 business school in Europe by the FT for the last 3 years, and recognized by Princeton Review as the strongest business school outside the US for marketing, HEC enjoys a partnership with Apple that is setting new standards for technology in the MBA classroom.

ESADE was #1 in the last WSJ international ranking, and is recognized by the Aspen Institute as the second most innovative MBA program in Europe, incorporating corporate social responsibility into the curricula. And if you are going to spend 12 to 18 months getting your MBA (ESADE offers a flexible structure so candidates can choose), Barcelona is surely one of Europe’s great cities in which to study. The city is also home to IESE, created with the assistance of the Harvard Business School. Graduates rate the school as amongst the best for new career opportunities. In neighboring Madrid, the IE Business School draws nearly six applications for every available spot in the class and the Centre for Eco-Intelligent Management is an example of the school’s forward thinking.

Hidden gems

As well as its cultural aspects, Europe also boasts a growing number of outstanding business schools that are leaders in particular fields, and whose international partnerships provide new opportunities in fast developing economies. Below is a round up of some of the schools to watch out for:

EM Lyon is one of the continents leading schools in entrepreneurship, and has recently launched a Global Entrepreneurship Program with Babson College and Zhejiang University from China. A campus in Shanghai, and plans for Dubai give students privileged access to two of the world’s most dynamic economies.

Nyenrode Business University is one of two stellar business schools in the Netherlands. Set in a medieval castle in the outskirts of Amsterdam, the school has long been the European partner for Northwestern – Kellogg, and enjoys strong corporate ties whilst placing a high value on social awareness and sustainability. Down the road at the Rotterdam School of Management, environmental, social and governance issues feature strongly at one of Europe’s top research universities. New Dean George Yip has ambitious plans for this top European school.

In the heart of the European Union, graduates of Belgium’s Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School seem to be doing better than many on the job market, benefiting from the multinationals and IT / biotech cluster around Brussels. Ranked #7 in Europe by The Economist, the school is now taking its blend of innovation and entrepreneurship to St Petersburg and Beijing.

And if finance or luxury brand management is a focus, you can’t do much better than SDA Bocconi in stylish Milan. The leading Italian school has one of the largest alumni networks in Europe, and of course some of the best coffee.

Warwick Business School was the first business school in the UK to gain triple accreditation, from AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA, and ranks #6 in the world for graduate salaries. The renowned faculty has written many of the textbooks now used at other business schools, and the new Global Energy MBA underlines the schools commitment to relevant global industry.

As candidates around the world question the ROI of an MBA, and look for ways to distinguish themselves in an immensely competitive job market, the affordable international MBA experience could provide the answer.

By guest blogger, Matt Symonds. Matt is co-founder and former director of the QS World MBA Tour and is co-author of the ABC of Getting the MBA Admissions Edge.