Leadership, teamwork, and ethics are essential elements of the Duke Fuqua MBA, which is why you’ll need to make sure you express your passion for these qualities in your application essays. Impress the Fuqua adcom by positioning yourself as an innovative leader and team player, as someone who can see the big picture, work collaboratively, and shape global business.
To learn more about the school, listen to our podcast interview with Shari Hubert, Duke Fuqua’s associate dean of admissions.
Ready to get to work on your Duke Fuqua application? Read on.
Duke Fuqua application essay tips
You’ll need to provide your thoughts on one short answer question and two longer essay questions as part of your application.
Instructions for all written submissions:
- Responses should use 1.5-line spacing and a font size no smaller than 10-point.
- Do not repeat the question in the document you upload with your application as this will cause the essay to be flagged for plagiarism.
- Respond fully and concisely.
- Length requirements vary by question and are detailed below.
- Responses must be completed before submitting your application.
All submissions are scanned using plagiarism detection software. Plagiarism is considered a cheating violation within the Honor Code and will not be tolerated in the admissions process.
Required short-answer essay question
Instructions: Answer the following question in 100 words.
What are your post-MBA career goals? Share with us your first-choice career plan and your alternate plan.
What’s your professional direction? And if you cannot progress in your career in the most direct way, what is another way of reaching your desired destination? Since you are dealing with a 100-word maximum, you will have to think long before you start drafting and then write succinctly to get your point across.
Required essay #1 (25 random things about yourself)
The ‘Team Fuqua’ spirit and community is one of the things that sets the MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. Please share with us “25 Random Things” about you. The Admissions Committee wants to get to know YOU – beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. Share with us important life experiences, your hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are.
Your list will be limited to 2 pages (750 words maximum). Please present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be brief, while others may be longer.
Have some fun with this list. It certainly allows for a more creative approach than most essay prompts permit. Note that the question asks you to go “beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript.” So, you can list your Pez collection or perhaps your brief membership in a rock band, or the fact that you took violin from ages 6 to 18, your membership in a gospel choir, your volunteer work in a hospital, your needlepoint, your favorite recipe or photo. Gosh – the list is endless. Just let it reflect you. Think of this list as an introduction to potential friends.
Watch: Shari Hubert, Associate Dean of Admissions at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business on How to answer the 25 Random Things Question:
Required essay #2 (The Fuqua community and you)
Fuqua prides itself on cultivating a culture of engagement. Our students enjoy a wide range of student-led organizations that provide opportunities for leadership development and personal fulfillment, as well as an outlet for contributing to society. Our student-led government, clubs, centers, and events are an integral part of the student culture and to the development of leaders. Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, what are 3 ways you expect to contribute at Fuqua?
Your response will be limited to 1 page (500 words maximum).
Do your homework about Fuqua (and yourself) before responding to this question. What activities and groups appeal to you? How do you see yourself participating? Making a difference? Imagine how you would take part, collaborate, and sometimes lead. While you can reference similar activities in the past, keep the focus of this essay on what you would do at Fuqua, and choose three activities/groups that most appeal to you.
One approach to responding to this question is to address a letter to a close friend or colleague and tell them how you would contribute to this very participatory culture. That letter could easily morph into this essay.
Optional essay #3 (Tell us more)
If you feel there are circumstances of which the admissions committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g. unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance). Note that you should NOT upload additional essays nor additional recommendations in this area. The Optional Information section is intended to provide the admissions committee with insight into your circumstances only.
Your response will be limited to 1 page (500 words maximum).
Why isn’t your current supervisor writing your rec? Why is there a six-month gap on your resume? Why did your grades dip during the first semester of your senior year? What are your responsibilities at your family business after leaving a prestigious investment bank, and why did you make that change? If these questions aren’t addressed elsewhere in your application, answering any of them (but hopefully not all) could be the focus of your optional essay.
Duke Fuqua application deadlines
|Final Decision Release
|September 7, 2023
|October 19, 2023
|Sept 28, 2023
|December 8, 2023
|January 9, 2023
|March 12, 2024
|February 22, 2024
|April 5, 2024
|April 4, 2024
|May 10, 2024
International applicants should apply in Early Action, Round 1, and Round 2 to allow time for visa processing.
Source: Duke Fuqua website
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with Duke Fuqua directly to verify its essay questions, instructions, and deadlines.***
Duke Fuqua class profile
Here is a look at the Duke Fuqua MBA Class of 2024 (data taken from the Duke Fuqua website):
Class size: 399
Underrepresented minorities: 25%
International citizens (by U.S. status): 39%
U.S. military: 9%
Countries represented: 55
Average years of work experience: 6.0
Median years of work experience: 5.58
Average age: 29
GMAT range (middle 80%): 680-760
GRE Verbal/Quant combined average: 318
Average undergraduate GPA: 3.1-3.9
Undergraduate institutions represented: 261
Students with advanced degrees: 18%
- Engineering/Natural sciences: 33%
- Business and accounting: 28%
- Liberal arts/other: 22%
- Economics: 18%
- Financial services: 18%
- Other: 17%
- Consulting: 14%
- Technology: 11%
- Health: 9%
- Government: 8%
- Nonprofit/Education: 8%
- Consumer goods: 6%
- Energy/Chemical/Utilities: 5%
- Media/Sport/Entertainment: 5%
- Duke Fuqua Full-Time MBA Program Adds New Round to Its Admissions Calendar
- Duke Fuqua Rattles MBA World with Exciting New Curriculum, podcast Episode 335
- Extracurricular Activities in Your MBA Admissions Profile
How to get into Duke Fuqua [Episode 536]
Are you attracted to Duke Fuqua’s collaborative MBA culture, and intrigued by its flexible curriculum, and the strength of its entering class as revealed by the latest class profile? But you’re unsure how you can make your case for acceptance? Then pull up a chair. In today’s podcast, Fuqua’s associate dean of admissions pulls back the curtain on what Duke seeks in its applicants.
Welcome to the 536th episode of Admissions Straight Talk. Before I introduce our guest, I have a question for you. Are you ready to apply to your dream MBA programs? Are you competitive at your target schools? Accepted’s MBA admissions quiz can give you a quick reality check. Complete the quiz, and you’ll not only get an assessment, but tips on how to improve your qualifications. Plus, it’s all free.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome back to Admissions Straight Talk, Shari Hubert, Associate Dean of Admissions at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. Shari earned her BA at Dartmouth, and her MBA at Harvard. She worked at several elite companies, and in 2009 became director of recruitment for the Peace Corps. In 2012, she returned to the MBA world when she became the Associate Dean of MBA Admissions for Georgetown McDonough. She joined Duke as Associate Dean of Admissions in October, 2017.
Shari, welcome to Admissions Straight Talk. [1:53]
Thank you so much, Linda. It’s always a pleasure to be here with you, and so I was really excited to get that invitation again to share some time with you and your listeners.
Can you go over, first of all, that menu of MBA options at Duke Fuqua, and then perhaps focus a little bit more on the MBA program itself? [2:04]
Yeah, sure, absolutely. We have four different MBA options at Fuqua. We have the daytime MBA, which is your… Think about your traditional two-year full-time MBA. Residential, flexible concentrations, experiential, I can go into that detail a little bit more. We have an accelerated daytime MBA, so again, very similar profile as our daytime MBA in terms of the types of students. It’s one year, it’s full-time, residential as well. The one specific criteria though that is different is that the individual must already have a master’s, either a master’s of management studies, which is our degree, or a master’s in management, or some kind of equivalent business degree, because those sets of courses that you would take actually substitute for, or transfer for the core curriculum that you would take your first year.
That would be a one-year, early-experience program basically in business that you’re talking about? [3:09]
Well, the accelerated daytime MBA actually should be very similar, the profile should be similar to our full-time. It’s just for people who already have some kind of master’s in management, or specialized master’s in business degree, plus the full-time work experience. So we prefer they actually have a couple of at least a couple of years of work experience, plus they already have a specialized master’s, and therefore, they are joining the daytime MBA program with the second year MBA students and taking electives. And so therefore, they can do the program, and get the degree in one year, as opposed to the two full years.
And then we have our weekend executive MBA, so we have two executive MBA programs. We have a weekend executive MBA program, and that is for working professionals. It meets monthly, and Thursday through Sunday, and then there are some live classes that happen every other Saturday as well. And then we have the Global Executive MBA program, similar in terms of… It’s a Duke MBA, it’s the same faculty, same curriculum as your traditional full-time MBA, but these programs are for working professionals. The Global Executive MBA is six residencies, in different regions around the world, including Durham. So it’s basically, every two months, you go to a different country, your professors travel with you, your career center representatives travel with you, your IT support travels with you, and your residencies are in that country. That’s for 10 days, eight to 10 days, and you come back and you do more distance hybrid coursework. Again, all of these programs are lockstep, they’re team-based, they’re cohort-based, and they all, again, are the same Duke degree, the same faculty, and just a different format. They all offer some level of concentrations and/or certificates as well.
Can we focus on the full-time MBA program? Can you give a little bit more information on that one, on the two-year traditional program? [5:05]
Sure. Absolutely. So again, this particular program is for individuals who are wanting to perhaps pivot into a different function, industry, geography, or reset, or just want a fully immersive experience in terms of pursuing their MBA, and it’s really tailored for that kind of a profile. The curriculum is really designed to allow our students to learn both the breadth and the depth across all types of curriculum, as well as very much focused on leadership.
And so just to give you a sense of the structure of the program, the core is their first year, which is very traditional to most MBA programs, you start off with what we call a Summer Institute, and it’s kind of a leveling two- to three-week course. You’ll learn things like leadership, ethics, and organization, so how do you think about leadership in the context of the individual, the team, and then the organization? There are two courses that you also learn, Entrepreneurial Mindset and Action. So that’s really about, regardless of whether or not you decide to start your own business, we believe that there are some fundamental elements and characteristics of entrepreneurs that are really valuable for all of our MBAs to have. Regardless of whether or not you’re in an established organization, working for an organization, you still want to have some level of intrapreneurial kind of spirit.
And so we make sure that all of our students, it’s a mandatory course, go through that. And then the final one is Technology-driven Transformation of Business. And again, that’s really, not just recognition that technology is driving all aspects of our life, including business, so how do business leaders make those decisions using data, using information in ways that either support the goals of that organization while not doing harm as well.
And so that’s a required course. And then of course, during that, you would also start to get formed into what we call consequential leadership teams, which are four to five person learning teams. And those are the individuals that you will go through your first year with, you’ll do casing with, you’ll be in sections with, and they are actually managed by a second year MBA student who is a part of our co-leadership program. And so again, our students are really able to give practical leadership experience, practice their own leadership style on actual first year teams, helping them kind of just acclimate. You go through the first fall core, which is fall. We have six-week terms, and so they-
I was just going to ask about that. [7:40]
Yeah, we have six-week terms, four six-week terms in the daytime MBA program. They each meet twice a week for two hours and about 15 minutes. We don’t have classes on Wednesdays, and that was purposeful and intentional. We do have classes on Fridays, so if you don’t have classes in the middle of the week, it’s when students can work on projects, they can perhaps do work that’s associated with their clubs, their leadership roles outside of the classroom, like conferences, doing more recruiting, things like that. But if you have classes on Fridays, we notice that students will stay in Durham more often, and it really builds more of a cohesive community, off-campus as well as on-campus, by ensuring that our students are in Durham, communing with each other over the weekend.
And so that’s been a really nice aspect, and a little bit of a difference in our program. And then, like I said, all of our students are assigned to leadership learning teams as well. And then there’s one other course that I wanted to talk about that happens, not in that during that Summer Institute, but it happens once students come back from their internship. So this is also unique about, I think Fuqua, in that-
It’ll be the second year, right? [8:49]
Yeah, so your second year. You’ve had your internship, you come back, and we actually get you back into your learning team. So it’s not as if after your first year you disperse and you’re never with your learning teams anymore. You come back, it’s called C Lead Two or Consequential Leadership Two, and it’s really about reflection. You had your internship, you’ve had a full year of being with these individuals and your classmates, and learning, and trusting, and building skills, and you’ve now been able to apply them during the summer, so let’s come back and reflect on, what did you learn? Because there’s more trust, you can go deeper in terms of developing those relationships with your teams, and your cohorts. And you do more personal self-reflection, personal leadership development.
So we do a lot of things with Brene Brown, we’ll have guests come in and talk to our students. They’ll do their own reflection assignments, just to really be able to have time to put into perspective what they learned, how they want to show up for that second and final year as well, knowing what they know now, having a full year under their belt, having some practical experience with their internship, is there anything they’d like to change, or pivot, or really lean into in this final year, that would help them as they continue to transform into develop into their own leadership style.
And another course that they would take as part of that experience, we call it C Lead Two, is Business and Common Purpose in a World of Differences. So it’s really about, how do you as a leader take into consideration the notion of IQ, EQ, DQ, how do you lead with common purpose? How do you lead teams that might be disparate, different, and have differences of opinion, come from different backgrounds? How do you make sure that everyone’s kind of working towards a common purpose in a world that is very, very challenging at times? And where you have stakeholders that are not just your employees, just your competitors, but it could be society, the communities that your organizations operate in, how do you bring all of that together in order to really be able to make a difference, more of a societal impact, where things are very polarized? And so that’s a new… Not a new course, but a course that I think is unique, because you really are able to take fuller advantage of that kind of a course and thinking once you’ve come back, and had some perspective after your first year.
Thinking of all the implications in terms of what’s going on in the world around us, and it’s certainly necessary. And this is a second year course, so you’ve built up to it, right? [11:06]
Yep, exactly. So that happens in your second year. That’s exactly right.
Duke Fuqua touts the flexibility of its curriculum, and the many concentrations that it offers. Can you review that aspect of the program? It was great that you talked about the leadership opportunities, but what about the flexibility of the program, and its ability to meet different needs? [11:21]
Yeah. I would start off by saying that our concentrations and our certificates allow you to go deep. They are options. They’re not things that you have to take advantage of. There are some students who go through the entire two years, and take the courses that are meaningful to them, or most popular. So it’s an opportunity to customize, and to go deep, but it’s not a requirement. And sometimes, people will use concentrations and certificates to pivot into a particular industry or sector that they’re not necessarily familiar with, so they use it in order to demonstrate competency, or just sincere interest in, but the degree that you get is still a general management MBA.
And so we have over 100 electives, and the concentrations are really an accumulation and packaging of different electives. We have over 100 of those electives, they can be organized under functional concentrations, or topical concentrations. So some functional ones would be decision sciences, management, marketing, operations, strategic, consulting, FinTech, is one of our newer ones. We have topical concentrations like diversity, equity and inclusion, which again, is one of our newer ones. Entrepreneurship, the environment, social entrepreneurship leadership, and the like. So again, about 14 or so different combinations of concentrations. Certificates, similar to concentrations, maybe one level deeper in terms of the additional number of electives that you would take. And we have two concentrations, our health sector management concentration, which is very well-known, and that concentration is usually coupled with the health sector certificate, it enables individuals to get a certificate in an understanding of all the different parameters of the healthcare sector. There’s a bootcamp attached to it. There are all kinds of experiential opportunities that you could take advantage of. They align very closely with the health center that we have.
So a lot of students, very popular. And that certificate is open to our Executive MBAs, and our daytime MBAs. So during the bootcamp, you’ll have a combination of both programs, over 100 people usually in that bootcamp. And that usually happens at the beginning of your time, or right before orientation. And then we have the finance certificate, again, for folks who want to really double down deeply into the finance sector. We used to have the management science and technology management certificate, that’s more of a data analytics, but as of last year, our entire MBA program is now STEM certified. And so data analytics, and those kinds of courses are really infused throughout the entire curriculum. And so there’s not necessarily a need to have a specific concentration, because the entire degree is now very data-focused. So I’d say those are the kinds of concentrations and certificates that we have.
And I think you really illustrated the flexibility and breadth of the program really. [14:36]
Right. And so you can do two concentrations, or you can do a concentration and a certificate. Pretty difficult to do two certificates, and so that’s why we have a limit in terms of, if you do a certificate, we limit the number of concentrations, but in addition to concentrations and certificates, you can also do a dual degree. We have five different dual degree programs. We have one with our medical school, or law school, our school of public policy, and then we have two with our School of the environment, Nicholas School of the Environment. We have a master’s in environmental management, and the master’s of forestry, which is interesting. And then for those individuals who may not want to do a dual degree, but they really want to take full advantage of the breadth of what’s available across Duke University in a very interdisciplinary way, as an MBA student at Fuqua, you can take up to four courses, 12 credits outside of Fuqua at any of the professional schools on campus.
It is very flexible. Fuqua, pre-COVID, was also known very much for its global learning opportunities. Are they in full swing now? [15:34]
Yeah, full swing, we’re back traveling abroad.
I would say, there are three ways in which our students take advantage of global opportunities. One is our GATE, which is an experiential four credit course, Global Academic Travel Experience is what it stands for.
And in May, 2023, the locations changed a bit. We had one GATE as we were kind of slowly ramping back into the full swing of travel. And this year, we’ll be offering two. So last year we went to South Africa, Johannesburg, Cape Town, and a safari. This year, we’re going to go to South Africa again, but we also have a new climate-focused GATE, it’s going to be in Denmark and Norway, and it’ll be led by Dan Vermeer, who is our faculty director of EDGE, one of the centers for the energy in the global development environment.
So in addition to that, I’d say about 20, 25 students per GATE trip attend. It’s a course, so about two months, you’re spending in the classroom, learning about the individual country, and the dynamics, economic dynamics, political dynamics, and the cultural dynamics, and then you travel as a class and cohort with your faculty member over there for a week. So you really kind of get the lived experience as well. We meet with alumni over there, we’ll have corporate visits, and then there’s also… It’s an opportunity for cultural exchange as well.
We also have what we call exchange programs, so those are… So our GATE tends to be individuals in the first year, and then our exchange programs tend to be our students in the second year, and we have over 20 different schools that we have partnerships with. It is an exchange, so they are sending their students here, we are sending our students there. And so it varies from quarter to quarter, but it’s very flexible. So you may have the winter break and the spring break, a set of exchanges with schools, or you may have six-week term exchanges. So it really is based on how much time do you want to be away. I would say, the winter break and the spring break are probably most popular, because it’s a lot to be away your second year-
I was thinking about recruiting. [17:53]
Yeah, well, that too. If you haven’t fully signed onto a company, definitely, it’s helpful to be here, unless you’re trying to actually find an opportunity abroad, and then that’s helpful.
But mostly it’s because people don’t want to be that far away from their friends their last year in school, so I would say… But people do take advantage of the six-week term options. And like I said, they last from either a few days, to a week, to a whole term. And there are over 20 different schools that we have relationships with. And some of them are based on special topics, and so for example, we have the Asian business landscape through a partnership in Singapore, and that’s kind of the topic of that exchange program, kind of looking at Asian business through that landscape.
We have doing business in Israel actually, with our partner school in Tel Aviv. And like I said, we are starting up this program on climate, which will be interesting. So it’s really interesting. We have an opportunity with Copenhagen Business School as well with spring break. So they all vary, very flexible, but a lot of fun, and I would say, a lot of our students end up taking advantage of our exchange programs. And then lastly, just student-run treks and trips, and those are not necessarily organized by the school, but they definitely are organized by students. I mean, we’ve sent 70 people to Brazil, I mean, students go to all kinds of exotic and wonderful places.
The information you’re providing is adding so much more color, depth, texture to it, so thank you for all this. What about the application process itself? What changes have you made to the MBA application process this year? [19:22]
So not a ton, but I will say that we have some new testing options. We will accept the new GMAT Focus, and we will accept the new GRE, and we already accept the executive assessment. So we are a school that requires at least one form of a test, and so those are new changes.
Any preference? [19:56]
Nope, no preference. I think it really depends. Do your homework in terms of whether or not the new GMAT Focus or the new GRE is the right test for you. But if you decide that that’s the case, we will accept it. The executive assessment is always an interesting option as well for some people, but it’s not for everyone. So again, we just encourage people to test out some of these, see which one you test better at, or feel more comfortable with, and go for it. Because the ones that you’re going to feel more comfortable with are probably the ones that you’re going to do your best on.
So regardless though, I would say… Encourage people to practice, prepare for it, but we don’t have a preference.
And there are no test waivers, right? [20:38]
Right. We do not provide test waivers for our daytime MBA program. For our working professional programs, we do offer a test waiver process that you can apply for.
And then another section that is new, we’re keeping our 25 random facts essay, but we do have a new optional section on the application, and it’s really just, we want to learn more about our applicants in terms of their lived experiences. Don’t think of it as an essay, but it is an optional section, and it’s just a place where they can share a little bit more about themselves, including whether or not they’re a first in their family to attend college, if they grew up with any kind of financial hardships, and then anything else that they feel they haven’t had an opportunity to explain that would speak to some of their lived experiences, their upbringing, or their background, what’s influenced them, that kind of thing. And it is really about this unique aspect of their lived experience that they feel will help them contribute to our Fuqua community.
So it’s more like, “What else would you like us to know about you?” Or- [21:44]
Yeah, that you didn’t get a chance to share any place else kind of thing.
And it is totally optional? [21:51]
Yep. There’s only the first-generation question and the financial hardship, those are yes/no, and so this smaller kind of optional field is about 200 words maximum.
I was just going to ask, is there any length limit to it? [22:06]
Yeah. Yeah, About 200 words maximum.
And then we will be keeping our fourth round, our application round. That probably means for us that we have five. So we have the early action, then we have the round one, round two, round three, and then we will have round four.
September 7th is early action, September 28th is round one, then January 9th, February 22nd, and April 4th would be round four, right? [22:25]
Yeah, so not a lot has changed, but we’re hoping that some of these things just provide more clarity, and give people a bit more space to really share themselves with us.
Now, in terms of the 25 things question, that is Fuqua’s signature question, and I’m just going to read it. “Please share with us 25 random things about you. The admissions committee wants to get to know you beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. Share with us important life experiences, your hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are.” Do you have any tips for that one? I mean, you can have a lot of fun with it. [22:49]
Yeah, I would say have a lot of fun. I did it, I did it as a function of when I joined Fuqua as part of my interview process, I did it. Every single admissions person who joins our team, once they’re on our team, they have about a week or so to provide us with their 25 facts. So believe me, we haven’t asked you to do anything we haven’t done ourselves.
But I would say, use the real estate to share facts that speak to your personal lived experience, characteristics about yourself, maybe what you value, and why. Your passions, your strengths, your lessons learned, failures, hobbies, affiliations, family stories. Not so much in terms of focusing on the professional part of your life, because we have other places to find that information out. It’s also good to provide a sentence or two to just provide some context around why you decided to share that particular fact about yourself. It doesn’t need to be a full paragraph, just a little bit of something to give us some context. I would say be vulnerable, it’s okay to be witty. Let us see your personality in the facts. I think we have a video on YouTube that shares some tips as well in terms of how to answer that essay. I think we also might provide some examples. My 25 is out there in our blocks-
So I’ll find it, and link to it. Now, you mentioned the early decision round. How is that different from the later four rounds, other than the fact that it’s first? [24:47]
We call it early action. Yeah, early action. It’s a binding round, I’d say that’s the biggest difference. It’s a binding round, which means that we ask that you not apply to another binding round school.
And if admitted to Fuqua, you are saying, “I commit to withdraw my applications from any other schools that you’ve applied to that are non-binding.” And so if there’s another school out there that has a binding round, don’t apply to that. And then if you do apply to other schools that don’t have binding rounds, I mean, of course, you might do that. Then once you get a decision from us that says yes, you’ve been admitted, you’re saying to us that you would withdraw your application from those schools. Because it’s really saying that, “Look, if I get admitted to Fuqua, I’m coming.”
You’re saying it’s your first choice. [25:41]
Yeah, it’s just so much my first choice that I am applying knowing that if you admit me, I am saying that I will come. And so I would say, it’s for certain people, it’s not for certain people. One, I would say, it’s for people who are ready and prepared early. And so don’t rush to get into early action if you feel like you are not able to put forward your best representation of yourself in your application. Don’t rush just for the sake of getting into early action. ‘Cause like I said, we have a number of other rounds.
And early action is not our largest round, so that also gives you a sense. Most people apply in some other round. But I do say, it is for the people who know that they’re kind of down for Fuqua. So they’re signaling and letting us know that they really are committed, and that we’re their first choice. If you want to keep your options open, early action probably isn’t the round for you. If you are willing to put all your eggs in the Fuqua basket, and you get admitted, and you’re saying, “Yep, I’m there.” Then that’s probably… And you’re prepared, you’ve carved out time enough to prepare to submit it by the deadline, then it’s a good round.
It’s a good option. [26:56]
It’s a great option. [26:57]
So two questions on that. One, if one is admitted early action, is there a different deposit requirement? Is it a larger deposit requirement? Number one. Number two, is it an advantageous or disadvantageous from a financial aid perspective to apply to early action? [26:58]
I mean, you still have to pay the deposits. It’s not a larger deposit, but the deposit kind of upfront. We’re still looking at whether or not that will change or not in terms of maybe adding additional deposits down the road, but right now, it’d still be the same overall level of deposits, just kind of maybe when we would ask you for it. So right now, you do everything upfront, and we might want to spread things out. You do the majority, I would say, the bulk of it upfront, so 3,000 upfront, and then you then have your second deposit, which is the final deposit for everybody. We’re kind of looking to see if we want to spread that a little bit more as well, you have the third deposit, but that hasn’t been finalized. Scholarships, yes, absolutely. People who are admitted to our early action also are considered for scholarship, and actually get them. So it’s definitely not disadvantaging you if you apply early action in terms of being considered for scholarship.
We discussed the new optional section, and you mentioned the length, and any tips on that? Or just mostly focus on this idea of unusual lived experiences rather that you didn’t have place for in the other parts of the application? [28:13]
So the open text piece of that, I’m trying to think how to answer it, your answer doesn’t have to be as long as the other essays. It is open space to just share something we may not have asked anywhere else in the application, or the applicant wants to make sure we’re aware of, maybe their affiliations, areas of their background that have impacted their lived experience, how they show up in the world, and how it’s informed who they are, and the impact they want to have, and how they want to contribute to our MBA program. Again, I don’t want people to overthink it though. For some people, there’s going to be something to add, and they should use the space. For others, they may not have anything to add, it’s totally optional. We don’t look differently on people who don’t use the space, but it is a gift, it is an opportunity.
‘Cause sometimes it’s hard to know every single question we could possibly ask you to get every aspect of who you are in a paper-based application. And so this is that space to say, “Hey.” There’s no essay on this question, there’s no short answer question that they asked me, but, “Hey, did you know this unique thing about me?” Or, “Did you know I was a part of this thing?” Or, “Did you know this particular aspect of my background really influenced how I show up, my grit, my determination.” Or, “This particular experience was very informative, informed my kind of thinking around the world, or what I want to do.” And so it’s that kind of space to use. It is different than the optional essay that we always think about, where you’re clarifying why you have a specific type of recommender, or why you didn’t get the GMAT score that you wanted, the GRE score that you wanted, or how-
Or the GPA. [30:07]
Right. It’s something new and substantive, not a clarification about some aspect of your application.
Now, can you discuss for a second the interview process at Fuqua, and specifically the difference between open interviews and interviews by invitation? [30:17]
Yeah, I do think the interview is a really special opportunity for applicants to really show us who they are in their own words, and human-to-human, as opposed to us only knowing you from your application. And so I would say definitely take advantage of the interview, think about it as you would any job interview if you are invited. We really want to make sure that we can get to know as many of our applicants as possible, so that’s why we also have this open interview process. About half of our applicants are interviewed in some form or fashion, and so these two formats really make sure that we are able to really get to know as many applicants as possible.
So the open interview period is, we have a virtual component to that, or an in-person. And basically, the difference between open interview and an invited is that an open interview is self-initiated. So you’re kind of raising your hand, saying, “I want to make sure I get interviewed, so I want to sign up for this interview.” Versus the other interviews are by invitation only. And so that means we are reading through your application the first time, and kind of deciding, “Oh, we’d like to learn more about this person. We’d like to invite them to be interviewed.” So those are the differences.
We have two ways either open interviews or by invitation, either you can participate virtually. And our open interviews, the virtual dates are August 24th through October 6th, or you can participate in our open interviews on campus, so you can come to campus. And those dates are September 11th through October 6th. And so again, as you can see, everything, as it pertains to open interviews, is from October 24th through October 6th, basically.
Sorry, August 24th through October 6th. After that, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to be interviewed, but we then invite people to interview. And if you’re-
And they could be virtual or in-person, or… [32:29]
When you’re invited to interview, you’ll also have the option to do it virtually or in-person as well.
Some other things to keep in mind, regardless of the round that you apply in, you can still participate in our open interviews. And so what happens is, let’s say you decide to interview through the open interviews in, I don’t know, September 2nd, but you’re not going to apply until this the first round, or the second round, we’ll take that interview and we’ll save it. And then once you apply, we will add that interview, that will be your official interview, and we’ll add it to your application.
So is it recorded even if it’s in-person? [33:09]
When you say recorded, what do you mean?
Well, you say you save the interview, so do you save the notes, or do you save the recording, or… [33:14]
It’s the notes.
So we don’t record any interviews. So even if you’re doing the virtual.
Not even the virtual? [33:22]
It’s just more for convenience, especially if someone’s living abroad and can’t get to campus. We want to make it convenient for them to interview. And it was kind of something from the pandemic that we thought, “Hey, it provides some flexibility, let’s keep this aspect.”
But they’re not recorded, they’re not recorded.But their interviewer does take notes, and then submits an interview report. And that report is then what’s added to your application. It’s on a first come first serve basis though, the open interviews, and with at least a 48-hour advance notice to request an interview.
Okay, sounds good. [34:01]
And the only thing we ask is that you have at least started your application to schedule the interview.
Traditionally, when you had interview days, and people would also use the opportunity to learn about Duke, are those opportunities now entirely online, or do you still have interview days, or… [34:09]
Yep, yep. We’re going to still have campus visits, and during your campus visit, you can also do your own campus interview.
And then we’ll also have different kinds of weekend events where you could also do an interview. So yeah, absolutely, there will still be an opportunity to visit campus, and do the interview during your visit, or we’re going to have specific Saturday interview dates, and so they’re on campus, and people can come to do an in-person interview. We’d love to have as many people as possible come visit, ’cause I do think it’s a really great way to see and feel it. But we want to be realistic, we want to make sure that there’s broad access for everyone, so that’s the reason why we’ve added these virtual opportunities. We actually will have virtual campus visits as well.
There is one thing I think that is worth noting, and that is, first of all, if you’re applying in early action, we do recommend that you sign up for an open interview, but in the event that you don’t, we still have an invited process, but it’s just a little tip. But I do want to talk about this aspect, so sometimes we get the question, or people don’t necessarily understand that, let’s say they’re not invited to be interviewed the first time, they think that signals that they will not be considered any longer for admission, and that’s not the case at all.
What do you mean they weren’t invited the first time? You mean in terms of reapplication, or you mean… I’m confused. [35:37]
So have invitation dates which we’re going to deliver our-
After October 6th, basically? [35:50]
Right. Invites to be interviewed. And some individuals think that if they don’t get that invitation on that date, that all is lost, and that’s not the case at all. Sometimes we continue to review applicants. There will be other times and opportunities on a case-by-case basis that we might want to invite people to be interviewed even after the invite to be interviewed deadline or date.
It doesn’t necessarily mean that you are going to be denied-
Just because you don’t get invited to be interviewed that first time. We also interview people off the waitlist, we interview people as we’re thinking about the wait list. So there’s always opportunities after the initial invitation to be invited, I don’t want people to think that it’s signaling something if in case they’re not invited that first time.
Let’s say somebody applies round one, and they’re not invited round one, could they be invited round two? Would there be some- [36:43]
Yeah, all right. [36:50]
And would there be some communication to them at the end of round- [36:52]
Yeah, I mean, they’ll get a decision, but it’s not an automatic deny decision.
And the fact that they weren’t interviewed doesn’t really mean anything, I think is what you’re really trying to say. [37:00]
Thank you for clarifying.
Now, you mentioned COVID a couple of minutes ago. Last time we spoke it was the middle of COVID, that was the environment in which we were speaking. Today, it’s a little different environment. Today’s environment has its own noteworthy developments, a lot of different noteworthy developments actually, but I’d like to focus on one specifically, and that is AI and ChatGPT. I’m sure that AI is being taught at Duke, but are you concerned about its impact on the essay element of the application? I noticed there was a very robust plagiarism warning under the application instructions. [37:06]
Yeah, yeah. Great question. First of all, let me say, I can only speak to our policy within admissions, as it may vary across the university, and then the Fuqua school in terms of classroom use, it’s really going to be up to the faculty to decide that. But within admissions, allowing the use of AI in their application, and we have decided to allow it. It felt like the way to be the most inclusive, while still requiring that applicants authentically represent themselves. We see a difference between plagiarism, and the use of AI, in that plagiarism is explicitly using material created by someone else, while we expect that the use of AI, at least in terms of how they might use it to answer our essay questions, which are unique to Fuqua, the use of AI, it has to begin anyway with this level of personal reflection. I mean, to answer our essay questions, you need some level of personal reflection, you need your own kind of content, and your own lived experiences to inform it.
We know that AI could be useful in terms of helping people organize their thoughts, or represent them better, differently through the use of AI tools. Similar to how people use Grammarly, or they may have friends who are English majors and they ask them to review their essays, or they may use admissions consultants to say, “Hey, take a look, provide some coaching and guidance.” Around their essays. So again, we view this as a tool that enhances the process, but should not, and does not replace the requirement for authenticity and the use of your own material.
And so in our minds, and I like to say, AI at Fuqua stands for authentic individuality.
I like that. [39:23]
I know, right?
And we’re going to assume positive intent, and that applicants are ethical, and they’re good agents in this process. And so we do require that your application be a true and accurate reflection and representation of your lived experience, and exclusively your own. And then we do, like you said, use plagiarism tools. So for us, all essays are scanned using plagiarism detection software, but again, we see a difference between plagiarism and the use of AI tools. So we have a long disclaimer about how expressing your ideas by using verbiage that’s not sourced right, is improperly credited, is a violation of our honor code, and it is grounds for denying application.
I’ve mentioned before on Admissions Straight Talk, but one of our consultants is also a journalist, and she decided to ask ChatGPT to write an essay for her, an MBA essay, and it took her a lot of time, and effort, and work to kind of coach ChatGPT to the point where the essay… Not so much that the writing was bad, but that it had the specificity that is required to have a good essay. [40:08]
In anything. And if it’s just mumbo jumbo verbiage, general stuff, I mean, yeah, ChatGPT can write that, and probably my eighth grade grandchild could also write that. [40:38]
Right. So that’s not going to serve you well though, right?
That’s not going to be your best-
No, it’s terrible. [40:56]
Reflection of who you are, right?
No. No, not at all. It won’t be informative, it won’t be reflective. And her point was that it was as much effort for her to get ChatGPT to a point where it was producing something of quality as it would’ve taken her to write it. [41:00]
Yeah, exactly. I would also note that, and this is less on ChatGPT and more on this plagiarism tool that we do have, it picks up on our own essays, if they see language is similar. So I would caution people, if they are using admission consultants, not to have anyone share any of your essays with anyone else, because if they apply to Fuqua, we’re going to see it. If you’ve applied to Fuqua, and they’ve used any aspect of your essay, and then they apply to Fuqua, it will pick up. And so just a caution there.
We’ve occasionally, over the years, had applicants use essays that we recognized as being previous clients’ essays. [41:48]
It wasn’t a good idea. [41:58]
It picked up on that.
It wasn’t a good idea. I mean, you can do it programmatically, we were just doing it. What do you see coming down the pike for the MBA program at Fuqua? [42:00]
Yeah, so I think a lot of it’s still in design, but I expect more elective content on climate and AI-
From an academic perspective. We do expect to have a couple courses that connect climate to business, and we have already approved an elective in sustainable operations. We’re also offering a climate-centered, like I said, GATE to Northern Europe next year, which will be interesting. That’s the one that’s led by Dan Vermeer. We expect a faculty member who will propose a new course that’s focused on modern AI in business. It hasn’t been approved yet, but could be an elective next year. And then we’ll be offering the first versions of a seminar and lab focused on our venture capital. We already have a seminar and lab that we put out last year on private equity, and all of those offerings are part of our Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship initiative. And one thing that is interesting and new at Fuqua is that all of Duke University’s entrepreneurship activity is now housed out of Fuqua.
Yeah, so Duke I&E, which is Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship, which was the university’s ecosystem around entrepreneurship, merged with our Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, which was Fuqua, and all of it is now housed, staff, all the content, all the intellectual property, all the research, and the faculty, and the students from undergrad, to all the different professional schools, all of them are now working and collaborating within the halls of Fuqua. Which is really great, we’re really excited. They just outfitted a new space for them, and so an accelerator space for them, which will be nice.
That’s really exciting. What about reapplicants? It’s summertime, I’m sure there’s some people out there thinking about reapplying, what advice do you have for reapplicants to Fuqua? [43:53]
Yeah, for students who are reapplying, we do offer a cloning process for them, just to make it a little easier. So we’ll replicate their application from last year. We consider you a reapplicant if it’s just for the prior year, so it can’t be two years from now and that kind of thing. But if you decide to reapply from the prior year, then we’ll save your… Let us know, there’s an email that you can send, and a request form, and we will clone your application. There’s no need to re-enter their information into the online application. We can even move over their recommender feedback, so that that’s helpful, so they don’t have to go back out to the same recommender.
We offer them the opportunity to update any other information though on their application, and there is a reapplicant essay that they need to submit. And that really is just kind of being reflective of the prior year, and letting us know what they’ve learned, what’s different, what’s new. I do recommend that people just review their prior year’s application, maybe take a look at the 25, is it still relevant? Do they want to switch out anything, or change up anything? Being really pensive and thoughtful about the reapplication essay. And I say that because if you think about it, if you just rely on the cloning and you don’t update anything, and you know that last year’s application, for whatever reason, it’s just not always just because your application, but for whatever reason you weren’t successful, if you make no changes, what makes you think you’re going to be successful if nothing changes? So I would say-
Right. The definition of insanity. [45:34]
Right. That’s what I was thinking. Yeah, exactly. So I do think it’s worth their time to just take a look, see what they might want to refresh, and then also be really thoughtful about that reapplicant essay. But we try and make it as easy as possible. We’ll have events for reapplicants, and webinars, and sessions to really kind of help walk them through the process. But we welcome them, we welcome reapplicants, and we have a high rate of folks who we reapply who actually get admitted the following year. So I do think it’s worth reapplying. Absolutely.
What are some common mistakes that you see? [46:11]
I’m glad you asked that question. So I would say, one would be during the recruiting process, ask admissions reps to compare their programs to other schools. I think the better approach is to reflect on what’s important to you in a program as an applicant. Be prepared to share that, and then inquire with each school how does their program match up to what’s important to you, instead of how it matches up to another institution. I feel like it’s the applicant’s job to really know the differences between institutions, and it’s each admissions rep at an institution to know what’s unique about their institution really well. And it’s also just not good form or respectful for admissions reps to contrast institutions, as all these programs are really strong, and there’s just as much as similar as different. And I really believe that there’s a place for everyone, and so it’s really better to start with what’s important to you.
Another mistake I would say to shy away from is, I’ve seen applicants not explain aspects of their application that may be viewed as outside that middle 80% range, especially if it’s on the lower end. So if there’s anything that’s in your profile that you feel is not a strength, I would urge you to really tell us what you’ve done to shore up that area. Be proactive. Demonstrate self-awareness and humility. At the same time, don’t allow us to assume, or make up a story about what happened in that particular space, or what that means, but really be proactive to say, “It looks like I’m a little different from this… Outside of this class profile range, but let me tell you why. What I’ve done, or how I’m unique in this other way, or how I’ve started to work on these aspects that might be a little bit different from what that class profile makeup in the aggregate looks like.”
And then I would just say, also doubting themselves upfront, not taking that bet in the first place. I really believe, again, that there’s an MBA program out there for everyone. I believe strongly in the value of the MBA. It’s been pivotal in my life, and it really surprises me that certain students will say… They’ll feel like they have to move mountains before they even are ready to apply. And I say, “You are good just as you are. You deserve this kind of investment in yourself through the pursuit of an MBA. And I’d say just go for it. Don’t doubt yourself.”
And then being really communicative, I also say another thing to just be aware of and be sensitive to is when you’re really communicative initially when you’re recruiting with our schools, but then you’re MIA once you get an offer. It’s not kind, it’s not the decent look. We want what’s best for everyone who’s applying, and especially those we admit, but we’re human beings in the process, so we can appreciate, and really like when there’s mutual respect throughout that process. So even if you decide after getting our offer that another school’s a better place for you, that is totally fine. I would just say be upfront, be honest, be in communication, don’t ghost the admissions team.
I completely agree with you. [49:09]
And then the last one, just more about when you’re preparing to start your program, once you get admitted and then accepted and you’re preparing to really start, make sure you’re paying attention to the many communications that you’re going to receive from the school to help you get ready to start. I would say stay on top of those emails. I see time and time again people not paying attention to the emails, and then before they know it, the program’s starting, or before they know it, they’ve missed some kind of deadline that’s going to be really important for them.
And so you’re going to feel, as an incoming student, much more prepared and calm, not scrambling when the time comes, if you stay on top of those communications, and meet the deadlines, and the checklists, and things like that that you’re being asked to do in order to get you prepared. ‘Cause really, the schools, they have your best interest in their minds when they are trying to stage the communications and say, “Hey, we need for you to do X, Y, and Z, because it’s really in your best interest to have all that done.” Because you will not believe how much information – you’ll be deluged. There’ll be a deluge of information once you start, and so if you’re not even in the mindset and practice of you responding and paying attention to that stuff even before you start, you’re going to feel lost, and that’s not what you want. You want to start your program feeling really comfortable, and calm, and prepared, and confident.
That’s great advice. Thank you so much. What would you have liked me to ask you? [50:24]
Let’s see. So I talked a little bit already about our test scores. I would say maybe the only other thing would be how we think about wait lists-
How do you think about wait lists? [50:38]
We maintain a selective and active wait list. It’s not ranked, so we don’t have any kind of ranking if you’re on the waitlist. And so if you’re put on the waitlist in round one, you may be admitted in subsequent rounds, so we try and look at every subsequent round to see if there’s anyone that we’d like to pull off the waitlist.
We encourage people to stay in touch and submit documentation. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, but if there’s something new and different, or if you’ve retaken a test, or if you’ve gotten a promotion, or even if it’s just to say, “I’m still really interested.” And so definitely be in communication. We look at it as a two-way relationship when you’re on the waitlist. We have a healthy number of people that we admit off the waitlist every year, and they come and they thrive. I mean, I’ll tell you, there are a number of our co-presidents of our MBA student association who have been folks who have been admitted off the waitlist. So it’s a process that we take very seriously, and we know it’s a process that can be very angst-ridden, but we don’t want it to be. So I would say be in communication with us, and we’ll be in communication with you too.
Sounds good. Shari, I want to thank you so much for joining me today. Where can listeners and potential applicants learn more about Duke Fuqua? [51:49]
Yeah, so visit our website. I would encourage people to attend our events. We already are starting to be on the road, but if you’d like to learn more, you can always visit our website.
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