2015 Best Business Schools Ranked by U.S. News

Check out our MBA Admissions 101 pages!U.S. News released its annual best b-school rankings, and we’re here to provide all the top rankings all in one spot!

2015 Best MBA Programs (last year’s rank in parentheses)

1. Harvard Business School (1)
1. Stanford GSB (2)
1. Wharton (3)
4. Chicago Booth (6)
5. MIT Sloan (4)
6. Northwestern Kellogg (4)
7. UC Berkeley – Haas (7)
8. Columbia (8)
9. Dartmouth Tuck (9)
10. NYU Stern (10)

2015 Best Executive MBA Programs (last year’s rank in parentheses)

1. Wharton (1)
2. Chicago Booth (2)
3. Northwestern Kellogg (3)
4. Duke Fuqua (4)
5. Columbia (4)
6. NYU Stern (6)
7. Michigan Ross (8)
8. UCLA Anderson (7)
9. UC Berkeley – Haas (10)
9. UNC Kenan-Flagler (9)
11. USC Marshall

2015 Best Part-Time MBA Programs (last year’s rank in parentheses)

1. UC Berkeley – Haas (1)
2. Chicago Booth (2)
3. Northwestern Kellogg (3)
4. NYU Stern (4)
4. UCLA Anderson (5)
6. Texas McCombs (7)
7. Michigan Ross (6)
8. Indiana Kelley (9)
9. Ohio State Fisher (8)
10. CMU Tepper (9)

Wondering how much rankings should play a roll in determining where you apply? Watch the video below for Linda Abraham’s answer:

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

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Top MBA Programs for Entrepreneurs

B-schools are always touting their entrepreneurial offerings, programs, and placement, so when we examined the employment reports of U.S. News’ top 25 business schools to see which schools send the most graduates into entrepreneurship, we were surprised to find that only thirteen programs provide this information in their employment reports.

Below you’ll find the results – the U.S. News’ top 25 MBA programs that reveal the number and percentage of 2013 grads who immediately founded their own businesses after completing their MBA:

School

# of 2013 Grads

Starting Their Own Business

% of 2013 Grads

Starting Their Own Business

Standford GSB 70 18%
MIT Sloan 37 9.5%
Wharton 59 7.5%
Harvard Business School 63 7%
Yale SOM 10 4.5%
UCLA Anderson 14 4%
Kellogg* 3%
Chicago Booth 17 3%
Columbia 18 2.5%
NYU Stern 2%**
Michigan Ross 8 1.5%
Duke Fuqua 4 1%
CMU Tepper 2 1%

* Numbers include all Kellogg MBA programs
** % of reported placements

Clearly, Stanford is way out in front in this horse race. MIT Sloan with its program in Entrepreneurship and Innovation is a distant #2, followed by HBS and Wharton in a tie for third place. Stanford and Sloan have long been known for entrepreneurship, but HBS and Wharton are generally thought of as financial services and consulting breeding grounds. In reality, both programs – without taking away from their strength in consulting and financial services – have sharpened the entrepreneurial saw over the last decade.

This comparison is useful for those of you who want to start your own business ASAP after earning an MBA. It is an indication of an entrepreneurial culture and education. And if entrepreneurial spirit and ultimately an entrepreneurial alumni network is important to you, then you need to know which schools are strong in this area and how they compare.

While this listing is useful, it still doesn’t tell the entire story of MBA programs’ entrepreneurial strength. Many business school grads will work for a few years to pay back loans and then start their own businesses. Among those, there will be a few grads who immediately enter a startup, so essentially they will initially be entrepreneurs on someone else’s dime. There are other MBAs who will work in entrepreneurial areas of established companies. None of these MBAs are reflected in the chart above, but all still benefited from their MBA program’s entrepreneurial education and culture.

Additionally, either we couldn’t find the data or schools don’t all publish these numbers. Consequently, the chart above is incomplete. Don’t automatically assume that programs we haven’t listed aren’t good for entrepreneurship. For example Haas has a highly entrepreneurial culture and many courses relevant to entrepreneurship, but we couldn’t find the number of 2013 grads who started their own business immediately upon graduation. Don’t let that lack of info prevent you from considering Haas if founding a startup is your dream. Similarly, Georgetown has many entrepreneurship resources (See Jeff Reid on Entrepreneurship at Georgetown). Finally, programs outside US News’ top 25, may be excellent for entrepreneurship, deserving of consideration, and easier to get into (For example, Babson).

As with almost all stats in MBA admissions – especially anything related to (un)rankings and comparing programs – take this data as useful information not as the be all and end all of evaluating the entrepreneurial value of different MBA programs. It is simply a succinct compilation of data that you should incorporate into the additional research you should do before deciding where to earn your MBA. Also consider:

• Entrepreneurial curriculum. What classes are offered? Are there opportunities to develop and work on a business plan?

• Extracurricular groups and activities. Are there venture capital competitions, clubs, events, etc.?

• The student profiles at specific schools. Are they entrepreneurial? Would you like to be on a project with them?

Now it’s time for me to get back to drafting that business plan on the back of a napkin.

If any school in the US News’ top 25 includes that data in their employment report and we missed it, or they published the data after we visited their site, please email saraw@accepted.com and we’ll add it.

MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Great Tips

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

NYU Stern Executive MBA 2014 Essay Tips

NYU_SternReflecting the character of the university at large, NYU Stern has always sought applicants who bring not just requisite accomplishment, but also intellectual energy and engagement with the world – people who have a point of view and are willing to express it. Stern’s EMBA essay questions are consistent with these values. While they cover the standard concerns, they also draw out your ability to self-reflect and to understand yourself in relation to others. The key to acing these essays is not just to write competent and logical essays, but also to present a point of view, a message, a distinctive perspective that will enrich the EMBA community at NYU Stern. 

Essays:

Applicants are required to respond to essay prompts 1, 2 and 3. The following essay questions give you the opportunity to more fully present yourself to the Admissions Committee and to provide insight into your experiences, goals, and thought processes. Your essays should be written entirely by you. Please note the following:

Please adhere to the essay word limits provided for each question. Word limits apply to the total essay question. For example, your response to Essay 2 should answer both part (a) and part (b) with a maximum of 750 words.

1. Describe your short- and long-term career goals and how the NYU Stern Executive MBA program will help you accomplish them. (500-750 words, double-spaced) 

One simple, straightforward, and effective way to structure this essay is to start with where you are in your career now. This opening  sets the context and conveys a little about your current situation, emphasizing what is impressive and/or distinctive about it. Then discuss how the EMBA education will enable you to achieve your immediate goals in your current role and  later your intermediate and longer-term goals, which should logically flow out of this present role.

In describing your goals, clarify why you would take that step or pursue that role. In discussing how the program will benefit you, be specific: describe the skills and knowledge you need to acquire and how the program provides them. Also refer to the structure, curriculum, and/or special features of the program, noting how you will benefit from them. Finally, resist the temptation to detail your career progress — limit yourself to points relevant to your goals.

2. High functioning study groups help to navigate the academics of the NYU Stern Executive MBA program. Students are placed in groups of four to six students, each with a diverse mix of professional backgrounds and skill sets. (500-750 words, double-spaced)

a) What role(s) do you see yourself playing within your study group?

b) What can your group learn from you?

Think about your strengths as a team member – and identify a few actual, illustrative examples from your work (at least one fairly recent).  Use these examples as the basis for answering (a). 

Part (b) allows you to be more wide-ranging in your chosen points; i.e., you might discuss not just your team performance but other aspects of your work.  Perhaps the group can benefit from some specific aspects of your industry practices, or from your experience in a geographic region, as well as from things like your teamwork and leadership.  However, don’t just assert that they can learn from this or that experience; discuss the potential lessons.

3. The NYU Stern Executive MBA program’s curriculum is designed with a strong global focus. Stern is committed to helping students develop a deeper set of professional skills, and a broader perspective of the role of business in the world. (500-750 words, double-spaced)

a) What is a significant contemporary issue on which you, as a business leader, would like to have an impact?

b) Why is it important to you?

c) How could you leverage your skills and resources to address the issue?

The most important advice here: select an issue that you truly care and are knowledgeable about. You may research some fine points, but responses to this question that are entirely constructed of research on a topic don’t work.

A simple and effective structure for this essay is to follow the a-b-c points. First talk about the issue in personal as well as objective terms, i.e., how you came to learn and/or care about it, perhaps what experience you’ve had with it if relevant. Take a stand; avoid being bland or abstract. Then describe how as a business leader you can address this issue in concrete terms. This last part will vary greatly from person to person – for some your work will directly address this issue; for others work will be divorced from it, and you will indirectly use your business leadership role as a bully pulpit, as a prominent and influential community leader/volunteer, etc.

Optional Additional Essays:

Optional Additional Essay:

Please provide any additional information of which you would like the Admissions Committee to be aware. This may include additional details on your academic/quantitative preparedness through educational or professional experience, further explanation of academic history, current or past gaps in employment, or any other information relevant to your application. (500 word limit, double-spaced)

This question’s wording indicates that you can use it not just to explain a problem (low GMAT, employment gap) but also to present new material that you think will enhance your application. However, if you are making the adcom read more than is required, there should be a darn good reason; not just a nice-to-know.

First, succinctly explain any points that need explaining. Then, if there is something you feel is important that you haven’t had a chance to discuss elsewhere, write about it, noting why it’s essential to a full understanding of your candidacy.

Optional Scholarship Essay:

The NYU Stern Executive MBA program offers a limited number of scholarships each year to applicants receiving minimal or no financial sponsorship. There are many more qualified candidates than there are scholarships available. Scholarships are determined at the time of admission and communicated in the letter of admission if awarded. If you wish to be considered for a scholarship, please respond to the following:

Why should the Admissions Committee invest in you as a business leader?

This essay is essentially your portrait – your candidacy at a glance. Do not just list accomplishments that repeat your resume, repeat qualities described in essay 2, or repeat the goals in the goals essay. Also, don’t present every possible reason you think the adcom should invest in you.  Focus on points that (a) are really distinctive and relevant to the MBA and/or (b) support your goals directly or indirectly and also (c) enhance rather than repeat the application. Developing an overarching message or theme for this essay before you write it will help you shape and select the content.

If you would like help with these NYU EMBA essays, please consider Accepted’s EMBA admissions consulting and EMBA essay editing services.

DeadlinesApplications to Stern’s Executive MBA Program are considered on a rolling basis.

For the class beginning in August: early deadline is March 1, final deadline is May 1.

Cindy Tokumitsu By , co-author of The Finance Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions Success, and author of numerous ebooks, articles, and special reports. Cindy has advised hundreds of successful applicants in her last fifteen years with Accepted.com.

FT’s Best Global MBA Programs in 2014

The Financial Times released its 2014 global MBA rankings! Read on for the list, the facts, the analysis, and the sources.

The List:

2014 Rank

3 Year
(Avg) 

School Country 
1 1 Harvard Business School USA
2 2 Stanford Graduate
School of Business
USA
3 4 London Business School UK
4 3 U Penn Wharton USA
5 5 Columbia Business
School
USA
6 6 INSEAD France/Singapore
7 8 IESE Business School Spain
8 8 MIT Sloan USA
9 10 Chicago Booth USA
10 15 Yale School of Management USA
11 12 UC Berkeley Haas USA
12 15 IMD Switzerland
13 11 IE Business School Spain
14 11 Hong Kong UST
Business School
China
15 15 Northwestern Kellogg USA
16 19 Cambridge Judge UK
17 17 Duke Fuqua USA
18 18 NYU Stern USA
19 19 CEIBS China
20 18 Dartmouth Tuck USA

To truly understand the rankings, much less use them, please see the methodology so you’ll know what’s being ranked. While there are twenty factors considered in the FT rankings, the FT methodology puts the most weight on increase in salary in $US PPP (Purchasing Power Parity) and weighted salary in $US PPP.

Poets and Quants criticizes the FT rankings for absurd results in calculating “Value for Money” as well as for having too many criteria and several criteria that really don’t reflect the quality of education. Others say that it is biased against U.S. programs.

Regardless of the criticism’s validity, the FT ranking is arguably the most cited ranking of global programs because it compares U.S. and international programs in one ranking and seems to do a better job of it than the alternatives. That prominence doesn’t mean these rankings are Gospel. It does mean you have a lot of data in a format where you can easily compare MBA programs from around the world on designated criteria.

The Facts:

Here are some fun facts about FT’s 2014 rankings:

• 7 of the top 10 and 12 of the top 20 programs ranked are US schools.

• Big jumpers this year include Boston University’s business school and Washington Forster, which each jumped 20 spots, to 75th and 58th place, respectively. Another big US jumper this year was USC Marshall which jumped 17 spots to 65th place. UNC Kenan Flagler jumped up 12 slots this year from its 3-year average rank, moving from #45 to #33.

• The biggest losers this year include Dublin’s Smurfit School (dropped 27 spots to 91st place) and Vlerick Business School (fell 16 places to 100th place), as well as the schools which disappeared off the list entirely: U of Iowa’s Tippie School (74th last year), Korea University Business School (86th last year), Incae Business School in Costa Rica (90th last year), Case Western’s Weatherhead School (94th last year), and others.

• Newcomers to the list include: UC Davis (98th), Wake Forest (94th), BYU’s Marriott School (93rd), and ESMT European School of Management and Technology in Germany (89th).

• In terms of geographic representation, the top 20 schools are all in the US, UK, Europe (France, Spain, Switzerland), China, and Singapore, but further down the list, other countries gain their spots: India comes in at 30th place with the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad; SDA Bocconi in 31st place represents Italy; South Korea appears in 45th place with Sungkyunkwan University’s GSB; Canada’s first school on the list is Toronto Rotman at 51st place; Portugal follows with The Lisbon MBA in 52nd place (new to list); South Africa’s U. of Cape Town GSB comes in at 59th place; in the 62nd slot we have Australia’s Australian Graduate School of Management; and Brazil’s Coppead is in 79th place.

•  The city with the highest concentration of schools in the top 100 is (of course) Boston with six top b-schools – Harvard (1), MIT Sloan (8), Hult International Business School (61), BU School of Management (75), Boston College Carroll (82), and Babson Olin (95).

The Analysis:

While it’s fun to look at the changes – who climbed and who sank – for me the real lessons from this ranking are:

1. The top programs move and change very slowly. That lack of drama in these rankings is a better reflection of reality than the gyrations one sees outside the top twenty. Significant change takes time so sharp jumps and dives probably mean nothing. Sustained change in ranking has greater credibility – if you value the same qualities as the FT.

2. The one point made repeatedly in the commentary on this ranking, and it is the same conclusion I draw from both the FT ranking and the Forbes ranking, which both emphasize ROI and increase in salary, is this: The MBA education at top programs provides a solid return on investment for most students. The MBAs surveyed for the FT rankings started their MBA in 2008, just as the Great Recession hit, and graduated in 2010. These MBAs still report on average a 100% increase in salary over what they were making before they started business school.

There are obviously critics of graduate business education, specifically the MBA, and those detractors either believe an MBA isn’t valuable or that the value has declined. I agree with the latter group. However, the questions for today’s applicants are:

1. “Given my current professional background and salary and my anticipated salary after I earn an MBA, do the anticipated financial rewards plus increased job satisfaction justify the investment (both out of pocket and opportunity costs)?” The fact that those entering b-school ten or twenty years ago could anticipate a higher ROI is irrelevant. It is merely a historical curiosity and for you an unfortunate one.

2. “Is the full-time MBA – or whatever flavor you are considering – the optimal way for me to attain my MBA goals?”

FT, to its credit, also has an article on those claiming the MBA is not worth the effort. Sometimes they are right. Each one of you individually needs to examine your circumstances and goals to see if for you the MBA is an expensive waste of time and effort, or if for you it is likely to be worth both. Clearly, most of the people surveyed by Forbes, the Financial Times, and GMAC are in the latter group.

In this video  Della Bradshaw, FT’s Business Education Editor, discusses the results of this year’s FT Global MBA rankings including the finding that MBAs in the class of 2010 are now enjoying salaries double those they were earning before they entered b-school.

The Sources

• FT Global MBA Ranking 2014

•  FT: MBA Ranking 2014: Key & Methodology

•  FT: Big Names Dominate FT MBA Ranking Top Spots

•  P&Q: Winners & Losers in 2014 FT MBA Ranking

•  Accepted: 4 Ways You Should NOT Use the MBA Rankings

•  Accepted: MBA Rankings: What You Need to Know

Learn how to evaluate your profile to determine the best business school for you!

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

Looking for MBA Application Essay Tips?

B-school applicants: Are you looking for advice to help you answer specific essay questions on top MBA applications? Are you looking for a resource that offers up-to-date advice for the questions found on THIS YEAR’S apps?

We’d like to introduce you to our updated special report, Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right! In this report, you’ll receive school-by-school, question-by-question advice on how to answer the questions on this year’s MBA applications.

Download your copy of "Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right"

If you want the most detailed advice available for creating the best MBA application possible, then you’ll want to download Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right! now!

Download your free MBA application essay tips now!

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2013 P&Q Top B-School Rankings

Get application essay tips for the top b-school applications!

Harvard Business School is the top MBA program for the fourth year in a row.

The top 8 schools in the 2013 Poets & Quants b-school rankings remain unchanged from last year, with slots 9 and 10 merely swapping positions (Duke Fuqua moved from 10th place to 9th place and UC Berkeley Haas moved from 9th to 10th).

On HBS…

About Harvard Business School, top MBA program for the fourth year in a row, John Byrne, P&Q editor, says:

Despite less-than-flattering publicity generated by a New York Times’ front page story on gender inequality at Harvard, an MBA from the school remains the quintessential credential in business. No rival beats Harvard in the formidable resources it brings to the game: the outsized number of superstar professors, the diversity of its course offerings, the stellar quality of its students, the size and scope of its campus, and the career achievements of its alumni spread all over the world.

He goes on to sing praises for this year’s HBS entering class – an average GMAT score of 720, a 3.9% increase in application volume, a record high of women (at 41% of the class), and an average undergrad GPA of 3.67.

Other Highlights…

• Chicago Booth ranked ahead of Wharton for the fourth year in a row, making the top three Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago (H/S/C) instead of the traditional Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton (H/S/W).

• Wharton was the only school in the top 10 to see a decrease in its application volume this year with a 5.8% decrease.

• Booth saw the highest boost in app volume with a 9.9% increase.

• For top b-schools outside of the U.S., London Business School again took the top slot.

• Two big jumpers in the top 50 include U. of Washington which jumped 9 places from 33rd place to 24th and Georgia Tech which also jumped 9 places from 40th to 31st place.

The Top 20

2013 P&Q Rank and School 2012 P&Q Rank BW FT
1. Harvard Business School 1 2 2
2. Stanford GSB 2 4 2
3. Chicago Booth 3 1 6
4. UPenn Wharton 4 3 3
5. Northwestern Kellogg 5 5 8
6. MIT Sloan 6 9 5
7. Columbia 7 13 4
8. Dartmouth Tuck 8 12 10
9. Duke Fuqua 10 6 11
10. UC Berkeley Haas 9 14 7
11. Cornell Johnson 11 7 14
12. Michigan Ross 13 8 15
13. UVA Darden 12 10 16
14. UCLA Anderson 17 18 13
15. NYU Stern 14 16 12
16. CMU Tepper 16 11 19
17. Yale SOM 15 21 9
18. UNC Kenan- Flagler 19 17 21
19. Texas McCombs 18 19 22
20. Indiana Kelley 21 15 26

Download our free special report: Best MBA Programs

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NYU Stern Offers New Scholarship

Learn more about NYU Stern.

“We’re in the dream-enabling business at NYU”

NYU Stern received a $10 million gift that will go towards a scholarship fund for college seniors who wish to pursue their MBAs at Stern after they graduate. The scholarship is named for the donor, William R. Berkley, NYU alumnus and vice chairman of the NYU board of trustees. Berkley’s $10 million gift is part of NYU’s six-year campaign to raise $1 billion for scholarships.

Exceptional college students must apply to Stern’s full-time MBA program and The William R. Berkley Scholarship Program during their senior year on the regular Stern application deadline schedule.

The program provides awardees with “a scholarship that covers the full two-year tuition and fees, provides a housing stipend of $18,000/year, and includes a $10,000/year stipend for books and other expenses. Berkley Scholars will also receive intensive mentoring from the Stern community.” In other words, it covers virtually everything.

“We’re in the dream-enabling business at NYU,” says Peter Henry, NYU Stern’s dean. “With Bill’s support, we have the opportunity to inspire the best young minds around the country and the world to dream big. Whether they’ve studied engineering or economics, physics or philosophy and everything in between, we want to put the tools of business into the hands of the most promising leaders of tomorrow.”

I emailed Jessica Neville, Executive Director of Stern’s Office of Public Affairs, with a few questions. I thought I’d share her answers here:

1. Is this for ANY college senior? In other words do you have to be an undergraduate student at NYU or do you have to be a U.S. resident or citizen? Are there any other restrictions?

Jessica Neville: Yes, domestic and international college seniors are eligible to apply. We are seeking seniors who demonstrate a combination of stellar academic performance and exceptional potential to contribute to business and society.

2. How many students a year (or at least in the first year) do you anticipate will be awarded the scholarship?

JN: The program will be highly selective with a maximum of 10 students per year.

3. Does the student need to start the MBA immediately upon graduate, or is there a deferral option?

JN: There is no deferral option. College seniors will be required to start the Stern full-time MBA program in the fall after graduating from college.

(See NYU’s press release announcing the scholarship for more info.)






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Round 2 Applicants: Looking for Tips for Specific MBA Application Questions?

Round 2 (and 3) applicants: Are you looking for advice to help you answer specific essay questions on top MBA applications? Are you looking for a resource that offers up-to-date advice for the questions found on THIS YEAR’S apps?

We’d like to introduce you to our updated special report, Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right! In this report, you’ll receive school-by-school, question-by-question advice on how to answer the questions on this year’s MBA applications…and just in time to submit those R2 apps!

Download your copy of "Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right"

If you want the most detailed advice available for creating the best MBA application possible, then you’ll want to download Top MBA Program Essay Questions: How to Answer Them Right! now!








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From Luxury Marketing to Entrepreneurship: A Talk with Daria Burke

DariaBurkeHow does someone with a degree in English end up pursuing an MBA at NYU Stern? Why attend a program famous for its ties to Wall St. when you’re interested in marketing? And why abandon the glamorous world of beauty and luxury marketing for the world of start-ups and social enterprise?

Listen to the full recording of our interview with Daria Burke, NYU Stern MBA, entrepreneur, founder of Black MBA Women, and former director of Makeup Marketing for Estee Lauder (there is even more, btw).

00:01:35 – Meet the multi-faceted & multi talented Daria Burke.

00:02:25 – Quite the career change: Professional services to luxury goods and beauty.

00:04:04 – Why NYU Stern? The advantages of studying luxury goods marketing at a school with a reputation for finance.

00:07:52 – Great tips for applicants interested in careers in the beauty and luxury industries. And yes, image is important.

00:12:43 – Entrepreneurs, listen up: Risk assessment, risk tolerance, and how b-school really can help you.

00:16:10 – How Black MBA Women came to be (answer: by mistake).

00:22:55 – Get involved in a network, and take a leadership role. Here’s why.

00:28:45 – “I Can Have it All.” Daria’s position on the “mommy wars.”

00:34:31 – Does an MBA pay off? (Controversial statement alert).

00:38:37 – Tips for researching and applying to business school.

Admissions Straight Talk Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes so you don’t miss any segments! Stay in the admissions know. (And while you’re there, feel free to leave us a review.)

*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Relevant Links:

• “Why MBA?” A free, downloadable special report
•  MBA Application Essay Tips
•  Black MBA Women
•  “I Can Have It All
•  ”The MBA Value Proposition

Related Episodes

•  MBAs Across America: The Coolest HBS Internship
•  Interview with SoFi Co-Founder, Daniel Macklin

Subscribe

•  Admissions Straight Talk on iTunes
•  Admissions Straight Talk on Stitcher






NYU Stern 2014 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

NYU SternLike most MBA programs this year, NYU Stern has reduced the number of required essays (from three to two), and it gives you two options for the second question. One of which I used to consider Stern’s signature “personal expression” question. Since it’s now optional, it’s no longer “signature.”

Your essays will need to highlight your qualities as a successful, leadership-driven, creative thinker and businessperson. For NYU Stern, you’ll want to reveal that you are a perfect fit with the program, the Stern community, downtown New York City, and the global business world at large.

My tips are in blue below.

Our Stern essay questions give you the opportunity to more fully present yourself to the Admissions Committee and to provide insight into your experiences, goals and thought processes.

Please note the following details when completing your essays.

•   All written essays must be typed and submitted using the standard U.S. 8 1/2” x 11” format, double-spaced, in 12-point font.
•   Word limits apply to the total question. For example, your response to Essay 1 should answer all parts of the question with a total maximum of 750 words.
•   Label the top of each essay with the following: Name, Date of Birth (month, day, year), Essay Number and Page Number (e.g.: Joe Applicant, January 1, 1983, Essay 1, Page 1).
•   Your essays should be written entirely by you. An offer of admission will be revoked if you did not write your essays.

Essays:

1. Professional Aspirations (750 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

• Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life?
• What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?
• What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation?

Stern states explicitly that it seeks students with a “well-articulated plan to achieve their career aspirations.” 

Stern’s #1 is an MBA goals question with a couple of small twists. A and C are fairly typical of this genre, only C doesn’t ask about long-term goals.  At the heart of this question: What do you want to do in the future that requires an MBA and why is now the right time to get it?  You should be able to answer that question, or you shouldn’t be applying.

Another small twist occurs in B: Have you done your homework about Stern? What have you done to research the program, its curriculum, career opportunities, and student life? What aspects of the program will help you achieve the goals you provide in C?

The part of the question asking about your career goal “upon graduation” is critical. Are you realistic about where your past experience plus a Stern MBA can take you? Stern doesn’t want people in la-la-land who will be impossible to place.

Finally make sure you answer all elements of the question while staying within the word limits (not guidelines). No adcom member sits there and counts words, but the readers can tell when you are significantly over. “Significantly” in my book is more than 10%. Write succinctly. 

2. Choose Option A or Option B (500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

These questions were both required last year. Now you need to choose which one to answer. Answer the one that will best complement your answer to #1 and the rest of your application.

Option A: Your Two Paths

The mission of the Stern School of Business is to develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society. Given today’s ever-changing global landscape, Stern seeks and develops leaders who thrive in ambiguity, embrace a broad perspective and think creatively about the range of ways they can have impact.

• Describe two different and distinct paths you could see your career taking long term. How do you see your two paths unfolding?
• How do your paths tie to the mission of NYU Stern?
• What factors will most determine which path you will take?

This is  a relatively difficult question. It forces you to embrace that broad perspective, ambiguity, and creativity, or you can’t answer the question. Let’s assume you get that first job out of Stern that you describe in Essay 1. What are the two most desirable paths you would take from there? Alternatively, chart two alternatives starting with that first job. In each path, how will you create value for others? for society? Why would you choose one path over the other?

You may have a clearly preferred plan A and a less desirable Plan B that ultimately ties to Plan A. You can have two parallel or divergent paths. I think the feasibility of your path given your past experience and an NYU MBA plus your enthusiasm, dare I say passion, for you goals are going to determine the success of this essay.

If I urged concision for essay 1, it is even more important for essay 2, which has a 500-word maximum.

Option B: Personal Expression

Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates. You may use almost any method to convey your message (e.g. words, illustrations). Feel free to be creative.

If you submit a non-written piece for this essay (i.e., artwork or multimedia) or if you submit this essay via mail, please upload a brief description of your submission with your online application.

Please note the following guidelines and restrictions:

•   Your submission becomes the property of NYU Stern and cannot be returned for any reason.
•   If you submit a written essay, it should be 500 words maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font. If you submit a video or audio file, it should be five minutes maximum.
•   If you prepare a multimedia submission, you may mail a CD, DVD or USB flash drive to the Admissions Office. These are the only acceptable methods of submission. Please do not submit an internet link to any websites or to a video hosting service such as YouTube.
•   The Admissions Committee reserves the right to request an alternate essay if we are unable to view your submission.
•   Do not submit anything perishable (e.g. food), or any item that has been worn (e.g. clothing).
•   Mailed materials must be postmarked by the application deadline date. Please follow our mail and labeling instructions.

Please note that mailed packages are subject to size restrictions. Submissions that exceed the stated size restrictions will not be accepted for review by the Admissions Committee. Please see the table below for the maximum package size guidelines:

Packaging Type                         Dimensions: Metric                            Dimensions: Non-metric                      
Box 36cm x 31cm x 8cm 14” x 12” x 3”
Cylindrical tube 8cm x 91cm 3” x 36”
Triangular tube 97cm x 16cm x 16 cm x 16 cm 38” x 6” x 6” x 6”

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Bribes won’t work. Candidates can get very creative with this essay and use different media (other than edibles and worn attire), but many of you will convey your ideas in words. Think of how you describe yourself in a social setting when meeting people for the first time.

If it’s the first day of class or a mixer early in the pre-term, how would you break the ice? Would you try to set up a tennis game or golf match? Would you find someone to explore NYC’s museums? Or do you hate museums and prefer hiking through the woods? What would you say if you were in the campus coffee shop and sat down with some new classmates? Could you create a dialog? A short skit?

NYU Stern also permits the use of multimedia in response to this question. While the medium may vary, the point again is to introduce yourself to friends. Given the other questions, this can be a great venue for hobbies, extra-curricular interests, and community service.

When I visited NYU Stern, the admissions officer I met with proudly showed me several “personal expressions.” Her faves. They were incredibly creative, but much less slick than you might imagine. If you want to submit something three-dimensional or multi-media, don’t worry if you aren’t ready for the Louvre or the Academy Awards as long as your creation is authentically yours, introduces you, and sticks to the above requirements. It will be taken seriously and appreciated.

If you are considering video, download Audio/Video in Admissions: Get Ready for Prime Time, a free special report.

3. Additional Information (optional)

Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE and/or TOEFL or any other relevant information.

If you are unable to submit a recommendation from your current supervisor, you must explain your reason.

If you are a re-applicant from last year, please explain how your candidacy has improved since your last application.

Obviously if you fit into one of the categories described in the three points above, you need to write this essay. If you don’t fit into the above categories and have something you want the admissions committee to know that isn’t part of the required essays, then you still should write this optional essay.

If you are an MBA reapplicant, please realize that the question posed here by NYU Stern is THE key question you need to answer as a reapplicant. What have you done to improve your candidacy that should change the outcome?

Uploading Formats:

You may upload documents into the online application in the following formats: word, excel, PDF, .txt, .rft and .wpd.

Application Deadlines

Deadline Initial Notification
1st Deadline          October 15, 2013 December 15, 2013
2nd Deadline November 15, 2013 February 15, 2014
3rd Deadline January 15, 2014 April 1, 2014
4th Deadline March 15, 2014 June 1, 2014

If you would like professional guidance with your NYU Stern MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the NUY Stern MBA application. 

Create a 5 Star Multi-Media Admissions Presentation: Download our Free report, "Audio & Video in Admissions!"

Linda Abraham

By , president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.