Predicting Your Odds of Getting In

by John A. Byrne on Print Print

She has awesome stats: a 770 GMAT and a 3.93 grade point average in biochemistry and neurobiology. A first year medical student, she wants to apply for a joint MBA/MD program.

He’s a 27-year-old public relations specialist who has advised companies engaged in mergers and acquisitions, proxy fights and other crises. Now he wants an MBA to help him develop the strategy and finance skills to become a management consultant.

After brief stints in financial consulting and sales and trading, he’s now a portfolio management associate at a large, well-known firm. With a 730 GMAT score and a 3.73 GPA, this 25-year-old hopes to gain a top MBA to move up the ranks.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

What these applicants share in common is the goal to get into one of the world’s best business schools. Do they have the raw stats and experience to get in? Or will they get dinged by their dream schools?

Sanford “Sandy” Kreisberg, founder of MBA admissions consulting firm, is back again to analyze these and a few other profiles of actual MBA applicants who have shared their vital statistics with Poets&Quants.

As usual, Kreisberg handicaps each potential applicant’s odds of getting into a top-ranked business school. If you include your own stats and characteristics in the comments, we’ll pick a few more and have Kreisberg assess your chances in a follow-up feature. (Please add your age and be clear on the sequence of your jobs in relaying work experience. Make sure you let us know your current job.)

Sandy’s candid assessment:

Ms. Doctor

  • 770 GMAT
  • 3.93 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in biochemistry and neurobiology from the University of Washington
  • Work experience includes internship and research as I am a first year medical student at the University of Minnesota
  • “I am looking for schools with MD/MBA joint programs and hope to get into one of the accelerated MBA programs.”
  • International student from China, fluent in Chinese and English

Odds of Success:

Harvard: 20%
Wharton: 30%
Chicago: 30%
Northwestern: 30%
Cornell: 40%
Columbia: 40%

Sandy’s Analysis: Jeepers, I’m impressed. I think you’ll get in someplace with those high stats, although you will need some jive as to why you want a joint degree. The usual suspects are Health Care Management (e.g. run a hospital or HMO) or pharma or medical device executive, or on occasion government service or some combination of the above.

A really hot field now is IT + medical records, since everyone thinks that better medical record technology is going to save everyone $$$$ and provide the basis for Medicine Ball (data rich protocols to optimize care, a la Money Ball, don’t hold your breath.)

At HBS, they usually have about 12 docs or so, but those students are often from Harvard or Yale Medical School, and often have MD’s already and then get the MBA, sometimes during residency or early training.

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure of the logistics of joint degree programs. The best thing you can do is figure out what your GOAL for those programs would be, from the list above, and then head in the direction of that goal by choosing electives and jobs—that would really strengthen your chances and story.

Please take my predictions with one very big grain of salt because I don’t know enough about joint degree programs. But if you do well in med school, and create some record, which leads to a joint-degree goal, I think you will be successful. Saying you want to help reform medical care delivery in China would be a BOFFO thing to say, but you would need some record of working in China or working with organizations which do that.

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  • FutureMarketer

    Hi Sandy,

    Apologies if this is coming through more than once. Thanks for your
    ongoing column. Would appreciate your input on where I should be
    targeting given my “low” Econ GPA.

    25 y/o White Male

    3.3 Econ GPA : Northwestern

    Work Experience: 3 promotions to Manager role at Nielsen (large market
    research firm, does not hold elite status but has started sending some
    people to top schools); a lot of leadership/achievements, experience
    consulting fairly senior clients…

    EC’s – Executive board of fraternity, chairman of philanthropy org in
    undergrad, tutor/recruiter for tutoring org, active in company’s
    college recruiting; not much leadership overall here

    MBA Goal: Marketing/Brand Management: Developed interest/expertise in
    Consumer Goods and general Marketing working with CPG marketing

    Target Schools (not sure what my range should be): Wharton, Kellogg,
    LBS, Ross, Stern



  • FutureMarketer

    Also I have a 750 GMAT – Sorry for the omission

  • Deepak

    Hi Sandy,

    If it is not too much of a trouble ( I know you get an awful lot of requests), would you mind evaluating my profile. Thank you in advance.

    My stats are as follows:
    -GMAT- 690
    -Undergrad in Biotechnology (VIT- Good ranking engineering school in India) – 3.45
    -Grad in Biotechnology (George Washington University) – 3.63
    -Started a company after receiving prize money in a business plan competition. It was a spectacular failure because the investors were convinced that I had no business background whatsoever.
    -In order to offset that, I attended the 5 week long Univ of Chicago Booth’s summer business scholars program
    – After the program, worked in an early stage startup (operating out of a garage) as an intern, got hired and was working as a Jack of all Trades for 43 months.
    – Quit to work on my own project and start my own company when I join an MBA program because my product targets post secondary educational institutions.
    – Extracurricular: Only in High school and Undergrad but none during work. It is a startup after all. Pretty much living in the office. So basically none.
    -Age 28

    Schools I am targeting:
    R1- Booth, Stern, Darden, Duke and Georgetown
    R2- Yale, Harvard (I figured why not? Its not like I haven’t seen rejections before) and Carnegie Mellon

    I am very much interested to know about my chances in Darden and Booth because they both have an amazing incubator program that can help me with what I am planning to launch.

    Thank you once again!

  • Chilegringa

    Hi Sandy – any chance you can calculate my odds?
    -650 GMAT
    -3.6 GPA – BFA in Studio Art from NYU
    -4 years of experience working at structured finance firm in NYC – we managed over 28 billion dollars of assets. I was promoted after two years. Do adcoms care about toxic assets? Do I add that I started as an admin then worked my way to the business side?
    -Almost 5 years living Santiago, Chile – spent two years at a hedge fund focused on LatAm consumer companies then 2 years doing valuation consulting – currently freelancing.
    -Looking at an MBA because I feel like I have a ton of technical experience and I want more soft skills and a well rounded business education
    -Post MBA goal is to broaden to general emerging markets in a corporate development role, PE or very long and involved hedge fund.
    -Extracurriculars: in New York, I tought business classes to high school kids. In Chile its been the CFA if that counts – I am a level 3 candidate.
    -I speak Spanish and French; studied abroad in Paris.
    -30 white female and married

    Tuck – I think this is a stretch for me especially with my low GMAT, but my mom is an almun (any special points?) and after living in South America, I would like to be buried in snow for a change.
    UT Austin
    For fun you can throw in Harvard and Stanford? For the record, I was never a slave on a farm.
    Any difference in odds applying round three as opposed to the first two rounds? Any other suggestions? Thanks!

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