NYU Stern School of Business: What’s New and How to Get Accepted [Show Summary]
NYU Stern MBA Programs have undergone several transitions in recent years, from the launch last year of the one-year tech MBA and fashion/luxury MBA, to a dedicated program to help military veterans transition to the business world, to more focused offerings for the ever increasing population of students looking at careers in technology and strategy consulting. Isser Gallogly, Associate Dean of MBA Admissions at NYU Stern takes us through the basics of the fulltime MBA program as well as what NYU Stern is looking for in applicants.
Interview with Isser Gallogly, Associate Dean of MBA Admissions at NYU Stern School of Business [Show Notes]
It gives me great pleasure to welcome back to Admissions Straight Talk Isser Gallogly, Associate Dean of MBA Admissions at NYU Stern School of Business. Isser needs no introduction at Accepted. He participated in many of Accepted’s old text-only admissions chats. He’s also been a guest on AST before. During his last interview, we discussed several innovations that Stern introduced in the 2017-18 cycle. We’ll see how those developments have evolved since then and take a look at this year’s MBA application.
Let’s start with the basics. Can you give me a brief overview of the full-time MBA options at Stern, focusing on differentiators? [2:38]
On the fulltime MBA side, we have the two-year, fulltime MBA program that we have had for quite some time, and two new programs that are pretty innovative. They are both one-year MBA programs that are specialized in terms of focus. One focuses on technology, and the other focuses on the business of fashion and luxury. The fulltime program has the traditional format, with two semesters, an internship, and then another two semesters. The one-year MBA programs begin in May, so it’s summer, fall, and spring. The two-year program is 60 credits, and the one-year programs are about 51 credits – you really do get the lion’s share of credits packed into a 12-month format.
In terms of the two-year program, what differentiates us is our location in New York City, but more importantly how we leverage it. What I mean by that is the experiential learning that we offer through partnerships with companies throughout the New York City area. Many are for credit, some are not, but we offer a tremendous number of opportunities. The second thing that is a surprise to some people is the community. We are a medium-sized school and therefore offer a small village of support within New York City. One of our big differentiators is what we call IQ + EQ, which is the combination of raw intellectual capability mixed with emotional intelligence which helps Stern students and grads be good leaders and teammates, and manage through people as opposed to exclusively through numbers.
How have the two one-year programs evolved? They just started last year. What’s developed? [5:16]
We went through the first admissions process, hoping for about 30 in each program, and that’s pretty much what we ended up with. These are all people that have a strong passion to work in these industries. If you have that razor-sharp focus, these are the programs for you. The people who have done it are all innovators, wanting to be the first. They started this May and have already done a lot of experiential learning projects. People seem happy and are already a tight-knit group. We don’t have a lot of changes planned for year one since it is the first year of implementation. We want to see how it goes, makes sure everything runs smoothly, gather key learnings, and make any tweaks for the next cycle. During the orientation for the tech program, we met with the tech board and then they spoke with students after, and the board was really excited about the caliber of the students. On the fashion/luxury side, during orientation there was a huge reception at LVMH, which was exciting for those folks.
What’s new with the two-year, fulltime MBA program? [8:02]
There isn’t a huge change or rollout this year with that program. We have recently launched the Fubon Tech Center, which is a big deal on the research side. In general there is a continued move toward greater interest in technology and strategy consulting, so we just continue to get more diverse. We are in our second year with the Fertitta Veterans Program as well, and just had the second group of 20+ students start in July. It is an amazing program for military veterans making the transition to business school. We recognize at Stern this is one of the most significant transitions some of our students are making, and their skills are very transferable and extremely valuable, but they don’t know the business vernacular or landscape so there is quite an adjustment period. It’s a six week program that starts in early July for two year MBAs. They do two courses, Statistics and Accounting, which are MBA-level courses (not “math camp”), which enables them to get an early start on two very important quantitative courses that have a lot of the language of business, a huge advantage of them. They also get exposure to industries, career planning, etc., and it puts them on very firm footing. This also means that in the fall they have one less class which is incredibly important. They’ve got more time to get involved in the classes, extracurriculars, career stuff, etc. We’ve had amazing feedback from the first year, and the second year is really strong.
Can you go into the purpose of some of the different elements of the application: the resume, the different essays, the EQ endorsement, The Professional Aspirations Essay and the Pick Six Essay. [12:34]
The purpose of the application is to present a composite of who you are across three major dimensions – you as a student, you as a professional, and you as a person. With academics, some of the key aspects you expect to see are undergrad transcripts, certifications, and standardized tests. This all gives us a sense of how you are going to do as a student. They don’t tell us everything, but that is primarily their role. It is a starting point to assess whether you can handle the coursework, but beyond that it doesn’t tell us much else.
The resume is really good for understanding your professional capabilities and track record – your career progression, accomplishments, etc. We also have a work history form which asks for more detail, like exactly when you started and left and why, which gives you the opportunity to explain your transitions, which you can’t do on a resume. From there you go into the essays, which talk about professional aspirations (where do I want to go, what have I done, how does an MBA, and one from Stern in particular, fit into your plans). This adds color to your background. Then recommendations are statements about who you are from an outsider’s perspective. We ask for one from a direct supervisor and one more, and speak to a variety of personal characteristics – who you are as a person, professional, etc. We also have a pick six essay which asks for six images that explain to us who you are to bring things to life visually. It is up to the applicant to decide how to use it – be strategic. The interview goes deeper into most of those elements. Our interview is pretty unique as it’s done almost exclusively in New York, as we really want to meet you in person. Almost all interviews are conducted by admissions officers who have fully read your application and do this for a living, so it’s a very productive use of your time. All together the application is like a puzzle. The academic portion is the outer border of the puzzle, and everything else are the pieces inside which become more differentiated.
Last year you allowed applicants to apply to more than one MBA program. This year it’s one only. Why? [24:48]
In the first year of those programs we didn’t know what kind of overlap we might have. Is somebody going to be really committed to a one year in tech vs a two year? We didn’t want to restrict people as the programs were new. What we learned was that 95% of people chose one option, so it wasn’t valuable for most people so why add the complexity or confusion? For those who did put a second option they really weren’t interested in it, they just figured they should. It really didn’t add a lot of value and was more work for applicants, so since it was more a distraction than anything we just eliminated it.
If you had an applicant who was accepted into one of the programs but subsequently wanted to join another one, could they approach you? [26:42]
Absolutely. We have that happen all the time. There can be changes to life status, so people may need to switch to a part-time program. We always try to be flexible and work with people. Sometimes things can’t be done logistically or timing-wise, but we do try if there are good reasons for the change.
Last year you had the EQ endorsement and 2 professional recs. This year, it’s just 2 EQ endorsements? Why and how is the EQ endorsement different from a typical professional rec. Maybe start by defining EQ. [27:43]
The EQ endorsement is a new element only Stern has. It is very important to us and we want to get as many indicators as possible. We have set it up as its own element since we figure someone might want to choose someone outside their professional world. We got good insight from it last year, and if it’s so valuable why aren’t we asking it of everyone. For a lot of people, they wanted one of their endorsements to come from a manager because they knew it would be valuable to them. So, we decided everyone should comment on EQ and to take the best of both worlds we combined the recommendation and EQ endorsement together. I think this will work out better for the applicants and for us. Essentially we have taken the more typical recommendation questions and added in the EQ questions.
Are you concerned that by asking the recommenders to do more work it will discourage applications? [30:30]
It is only one more question beyond the typical recommendation questions, and one of the two can come from anyone, which could be easier to get.
How did your Pick Six essay work for you last year? [31:25]
We love it. The applicants love it. It is amazing the kind of info it can provide and how quickly it does so. The essay provided everything we wanted it to – a consistent creative submission for people to express who they are as an individual. It allowed them to communicate not just in words but with imagery, which is how we communicate as a society today. It lets them convey in a very short amount of time in a very compelling and dramatic way many aspects of who they are. It gives a lot of latitude in terms of what you communicate, and structure in terms of how you communicate. All the basic work on this is the thinking and doing, not writing and rewriting.
You just posted preliminary data for the Class of 2020, the one starting now. The average GMAT is 717, the 80% range is 660-760, the 100% range is 590 -780. 19% of student applied with a GRE only. Any plans to post the GRE stats? [35:17]
Not at this time. It is still the minority of the class, and when thinking about GRE test takers they are generally coming from very different backgrounds than the overall applicant pool. I don’t necessarily think that base is generally representative of the overall class, so it might present a skewed viewpoint. We are a very transparent program, but we are transparent about things we feel are helpful and valuable and not potentially misleading.
What does someone in that bottom 10% range do or have that causes you to overlook a really low test score? [38:17]
The test scores are just one data point and how you will do academically your first year. Being a good student is a starting point but not the be-all, end-all. Some people may have a lower score but a whole host of other evidence that the score is not an accurate reflection of their abilities as a student or professional. When you look at the rest of what they have, it is more than worth it to take that risk on them. There are people on the other side as well, with a 780 GMAT but with work experience equivalent of a 590. They will add a lot in the classroom but have a tougher road on the career side, but net-net they are somebody you want to have. It is a holistic process and you have to look at all the elements in conjunction with each other.
What would you have liked me to ask you? [42:50]
What I always try to get out there are responses to these two questions:
- What are their chances?
- How do I game it?
What I try to let people know is #1, we can’t tell you what your chances are without you applying, so go for it. If you want a chance you have to apply, take the risk. Put together the best case you can. Don’t hold yourself back.
#2 there are a lot of really good schools, and many you will have great experiences at, but there are a few where the experience will be unbelievable, but don’t be so locked into a ranking or what someone says about a particular school. Trust your gut. You know when there is a good match. If you trust your instincts you will find the best place for you. #3 Don’t spin your application, reveal yourself – your strengths, weaknesses, passions, dreams, tell it to us straight. Be authentic.