Vanderbilt’s MBA program is small, collegial, collaborative, and very close-knit. The school has been called a “hidden gem” because it ranks in the top 5% to 10% of all business schools in the world but is often overlooked in favor of the M7 schools. However, those who do some research may find that this is the right place for them. Candidates applying to Vanderbilt often want a small program where the curriculum can be tailored to their needs. It is a place where you truly will know everyone from those in your class, the faculty and staff, and even students in other schools at Vanderbilt, such as law and medicine. The school values diversity in all forms and wants students who will be engaged and have an impact on society.
The school lists eight core values but these are the most important:
- We are competitive, not cutthroat.
- We solve problems collaboratively.
- We lead with ideas, not egos.
- We challenge the status quo.
Keep these in mind when writing your application statements and also during the interview.
You can find a lot of very interesting and revealing facts about Vanderbilt by visiting the website.
Vanderbilt Owen prides itself on its excellent Leadership Development Program (LDP), which has been in existence for over 16 years. Every student can participate in this innovative program which uses the Hogan assessment as a first tool to understand personality characteristics. The LDP staff go over the results of the Hogan with students on an individual basis and then recommend one of the three tracks offered to work on leadership skills. The school employs over 37 professional executive coaches to work with students –and alumni.
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Owen Graduate School of Management 2022-23 MBA application tips
The application has been slightly modified this year and is one of the more “user-friendly” applications in that the essays are very short yet designed to get to know who you are. In an effort to clarify the whole process, Vanderbilt has prepared The Ultimate Guide to the MBA Admissions Process, a free, downloadable booklet that removes some of the mystery from the process.
The required elements of the application are test scores, academic transcripts, , letter of recommendation, two statements, and one video response.
Vanderbilt accepts ether the GMAT, GRE or the Executive Assessment (EA), and in many cases will grant a test waiver. There is a simple form to complete to request a test waiver before you submit your application. However, if your undergrad grades are weak, you would be advised to send in a test score to improve your chances, especially to show that you can do the quant work. International candidates must submit either TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo unless they meet the exemption requirements.
[Read: Test-Optional MBA Programs: Everything You Need to Know]
Letter of recommendation
Only one letter of recommendation is required, and it should be from a current or recent direct supervisor. The recommender may complete either the Vanderbilt form or use the GMAT Common Letter of Recommendation form. It is not wise to submit a letter from a former professor– Admissions wants to know more about your work experience and interaction with others. They can see your academic prowess from your transcripts!
Copies of academic transcripts from each university attended must be included with proof of a four-year bachelor’s degree or the equivalent. If you are admitted, you would then need to provide official transcripts to the school.
Owen written statements (short essays)
This year there are only two required written statements of 150 words each:
- What are your short-term career goals after obtaining your MBA and what functional area do you plan to study while in the MBA program? What are some specific skills that you want to develop during your time in business school that will help you achieve your career goals?
- Please highlight something about yourself that isn’t already captured in the application.
In responding to Statement 1, be as specific as possible as to industry (consulting, finance, manufacturing, marketing, etc.), and functional area (i.e., operations, brand management, commercial banking, human resources, etc.). They want to see that you have really given this some thought and have examined their program to see which specific courses or Research Centers will help you achieve your goals. Also think about what skills you have already developed, what other skills you need to acquire to change or advance in your chosen career path, or what weaknesses you want to strengthen. Mention specific courses that will help you do this. That said, they will not hold you to this goal, because they know that there will be many new opportunities for you to consider. But you do need to have a general idea because companies start recruiting in person about the second week of school and the time flies past.
The essay is short because they want to see if you can produce a precise and meaningful statement, not one full of fluff. Brevity is a plus in business communication – show them you can do that by thinking of this as your written “60-second elevator pitch”.
What they are asking in Statement 2 should be evident, but many candidates veer off into repeating the accomplishments on their resume or from one of the optional statements. That is not what they are asking! They want to know something about you that is NOT in the application. This can be crafted as a very short story about something that is important to you, an event that shaped who you are or a challenge you overcame. It is not a reiteration of your job skills or why you want an MBA.
Optional explanatory statement
There is an optional statement, and it is truly optional. This gives you the chance to explain low grades in undergrad, or why you are not using your current supervisor as a recommender, or why you have any gaps in employment. Don’t use this section to whine about your test score. It is what it is, and if you didn’t bother to retake the test to try and improve your score, then that says a lot.
Optional interesting fact
Finally, there is an optional statement of 400 characters:
”Share an interesting or fun fact about yourself.”
Again, this is to get to know you better and it should be something fun! Like “I’ve visited every major league baseball stadium in the US.” Or “I wanted to be doctor when I was a child and destroyed all my sister’s dolls while practicing surgery.” You get the idea?
The last component is the Video Response. These are easy questions, designed to gauge your personality, creativity, and communication style. You can have three attempts to record your response, but each attempt will present a different question. You have 30 seconds to prepare your answer and 90 seconds to record it.
As with all videos remember: have good lighting, test your video and audio, dress appropriately (business casual). Try to record in front of a bare wall, not your messy bedroom, and lock the door so your roommate won’t walk through after a shower!
Interviews are by invitation and are granted after a preliminary review of your entire application. You will be given access to a calendar to schedule a date that is convenient for you, but you must complete the interview within the dates given for each Application Round. The interviews are “blind”, meaning that your interviewer will have only your resume. They will not have seen the rest of your application, essays, tests scores, etc. This is to give everyone a level playing field to start with. During the school year, interviews are generally done by second-year students who have been extensively trained to do this. During breaks, summer, or in cities outside of Nashville, one of the admissions staff will do the interview. Vanderbilt does not use alumni interviewers at this time. The questions are primarily behavioral in nature.
Don’t take this lightly – prepare for the interview by knowing your resume, have stories that highlight your skills, personality and impact, be able to coherently discuss your goals, and why Vanderbilt is the place for you. You really must evidence knowledge of the school, the curriculum, and student clubs and how each will play a part in your development.
Vanderbilt-Owen has several research centers, and if one happens to be in your area of interest, you should check it out and be ready to talk about it during your interview.
– The Financial Markets Research Center
– The Center for entrepreneurship
– The Center for Healthcare Market Innovation
– The Turner Family Center for Social Ventures
– The Insights Lab
To conclude, your “fit” with the school is probably the most important criteria that will be evaluated because this is a small program and as they say, one bad apple can ruin the whole barrel. They obviously care about your academic preparation too, and offer pre-term activities to prepare you for the rigorous quantitative classes in the first semester.
Vanderbilt Owen at a glance
Class size: 182
Age Range: 23-40
Average years work experience: 5.7
Average GMAT score: 690
Median Undergraduate GPA: 3.3
Class of 22 Internship Offers: 100%
U.S. News Ranking 2022: #23
For expert guidance with your Vanderbilt MBA application, check out Accepted’s MBA Application Packages, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to top MBA programs and look forward to helping you too!
Vanderbilt Owen 2022-23 MBA application timeline
Application deadlines are similar to other schools, except that Vanderbilt does offer a 4th round in May.
|Round||Deadline||Decisions Released||Deposit Deadline|
|1||Oct. 11, 2022||Dec. 16, 2022||Jan. 19, 2023|
|2*||Jan. 9, 2023||Mar. 24, 2023||Apr. 18, 2023|
|3*||Mar. 31, 2023||May 5, 2023||May 19, 2023|
|4||May 10, 2023||Rolling||Rolling|
Source: Vanderbilt website
***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***
More resources for Owen applicants
Not sure if Owen is the place for you? If you are in the research stage, these resources can help guide you:
- The MBA Selectivity Index
- Top 10 or Bust: Dispelling 2 MBA Myths
- M7 MBA Programs: Everything You Need to Know
- Which MBA Program is Right for Me? The Ultimate Guide to Choosing an MBA Program
Wherever you decide to apply, you will need a stand-out application, extraordinary essays, and incredible interview skills. Our expert admissions consultants will work with you one-on-one to make sure you present your best self. Check out our MBA Services Packages and get on the road to being ACCEPTED!
Dr. Christie St-John has over 25 years of experience as MBA admissions director, career coach and Chief Military Recruiter at Vanderbilt University and Tuck School of Business, consultant at Université de Nice, and adjunct faculty at Vanderbilt. Christie has a deep knowledge of MBA and graduate admissions. Want Christie to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!