Calculating Your Odds Of Getting In

He has worked for American Express in Argentina for more than five years, winning numerous awards for his superior performance. But this 26-year-old male now wants to get an MBA to try his hand at management consulting at BCG, Bain or McKinsey.

After a five-year stint at a major New York City art museum, she’s hoping to get an MBA to transition to a job as the director of a college art museum in New England. Her dream school: Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business.

She has worked as a financial analyst for two Fortune 500 companies over the past five years. With a 730 GMAT and a 3.5 grade point average from UC-Berkeley, this 27-year-old woman is hoping to use a top-ranked MBA to move into a product management or business development role in the biotech field.

Sandy Kreisberg, HBS Guru, in Harvard Square

What these MBA 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 tell-it-like-it-is assessment:

Ms. Museum

  • 740 GMAT
  • 3.0 GPA
  • Undergraduate degree in English literature from a “virtually unheard of” liberal arts college in New York City
  • 3.5 GPA Master’s
  • Graduate degree in art history from same school
  • Work experience includes five years at a major New York City art museum in an administrative and research role
  • Extracurricular activities include founding literary club, president of Sigma Tau Delta (International English Honor Society), and also some LGTB work, though no heavy-lifting,
  • Goal: To be director, deputy director or development officer of a college art museum in New England
  • “My dream school is Tuck (grew up in Hanover, was beneficiary of initiatives like Tuck-sponsored project WISE as a child and am eager to give back to my community, have personal and professional attachment to the college’s art museum)”

Odds of Success:

Dartmouth: 30% to 40%
Yale: 40+%
Harvard: 15% to 20%

Sandy’s Analysis: MBA programs get more applications from the art world, or should I say, the Art World, than many people think. That includes music, painting, theater–and the rich cousin of this family, cinema. Your story is pretty typical, and so are stories of performers who want to cross over into arts management, or have already taken steps to do that.

The fact that you have five years of experience in a blue chip New York City museum, in what could arguably be called a mix of curatorial and administrative functions is a real anchor for your application, and a 740 GMAT is a Rembrandt-level score for this cohort. It will go a long way in having adcoms ignore your drip- painting undergraduate transcript.

There is a serviceable summary of arts administration options and issues (and links),whether within MBA programs, or as self-standing MA programs (Columbia is famous for this) in Wikipedia,, so that is a good place to start, if you want to survey the waterfront of your options.

Tuck is certainly a maybe, and you seem to be their type and know the terrain. What I would not suggest is your current stated goals: “Director, Deputy Director or Development Officer of a college art museum in New England,” which sounds like you are eager to stop talking the subway to work in New York and buy a Land Rover for employment portage instead, including crossing the small stream near your jewel-box rural manse. Dartmouth Abbey anyone!!!!

Also, Director of Development is basically a silver-cup job (high class begging) and for that you would do better with a combination of charm school and a deep network of high-net worth friends than with an MBA degree.  Although, sure, going to an MBA program is a good way to meet many of those. I would rather say that you are interested in being the leader of a museum (and not necessarily a college one either) because that job requires a combination of strategy, human resources, finance, development, and real estate issues in addition to your impeccable taste and robust knowledge of art history.

Hope this has been helpful. Fun factoid, and not sure if this true, but it could be. Someone once told me that the total value of Harvard University’s museum holdings (millions of objects if you define its museum holdings widely, including science museums) is larger than its endowment, which was last reported at $32 billion. Harvard has a lot of art wasting in basements and they used to have a program (and still might) of lending out art for decorating faculty offices and even houses. Of course, even if true, the art objects are not liquid, and would have to be sold (and much of it has been donated with restrictions against that) but just an interesting conversation piece, nonetheless.

Getting back to you, I think your chances at Tuck are solid if you can charm them and come up with a more robust, and less gentrified, goal statement.

  • Wowzers

    wow. Sandy please do a profile on the above. im almost exactly the same in terms of exact school, gmat, work experience, extras.

  • Ryan

    I would love to hear what you think about my stats.

    28 Year old White Male
    First Generation College Student
    740 GMAT
    3.9 GPA From WUSTL in Accounting & Economics (Artsci Econ not Bschool)
    3 Years FAS experience from Big 4 (Valuation and M&A groups)


    President of Dance club that received highest student review awards 2/4 years

    Founded non profit to provide scholarships for students who pursued diverse extracurriculars not traditionally supported by colleges

    Founded successful urban apparel company while in UG

    Competed globally as professional dancer during break year from UG


    Take quantitative skills and apply them to strategy consulting
    Pursue executive leadership within Fortune 100

    Looking to go to

  • MsTech

    I’d love to get my profile reviewed. I am interesting in product management in high tech. Looking at Stanford, Sloan, Kellogg, Haas, Duke.

    26, Female
    3.5 GPA from MIT (mechanical engineering)
    760 GMAT 50Q 44V 6.0AWA
    5 years at HP as an R&D Engineer
    Current extracurriculars:
    – Highly involved in company employee resource group, 2 years as chairperson, set up networking events, executive speaker series, launching networking program
    – 4 years volunteering at a girls science and technology program, about 50-100 hours/year


  • Mr. Cancer Survivor

    Hey Sandy, this series rocks! I find myself checking P&Qs every day to see if the latest round has been published. I would love to hear your thoughts on my profile:

    + 3.9 GPA, 740 GMAT
    + Accounting degree from competitive private school in mountain west (#1 accounting program in nation)
    + White married male, 27 years old at application (28 at matriculation)
    + Survived cancer during freshman year of college and have been actively involved in pediatric cancer advocacy ever since

    + 1.5 years at major consultancy (LEK/Monitor) with very high marks
    + 2 years at well-known middle market PE shop in Boston (current)

    + Significant leadership positions during my 2 year service mission for my church in Northern CA
    + Founded and directed tutoring program to help inmates earn GED and reduce recidivism. 50+ volunteers, 3 facilities, and thousands of inmates
    + Student government in college
    + Eagle Scout
    + President of alumni chapter
    + Volunteer in pediatric cancer unit of children’s hospital
    + Head of client development for LA office of pro-bono consulting firm
    + 2 months volunteering at hospital in Palestine working with refugees

    + 5 year plan is to get back into MM PE and help grow medium sized businesses
    + Learn management skill-set and leverage into industry transition, likely into portfolio company of PE fund for 5+ year plan

    + Not to be cynical, but how do I leverage my cancer story to my advantage? Have you seen this done successfully before?
    + What makes the white male consultant / PE guy stand out in a crowded field of so many with a similar profile?
    + Will the current political / social anti-PE sentiment soil PE applicants’ chances?

    HBS is far and away my #1, will also apply to S/W, Chicago, MIT

  • JB

    Hi Sandy

    Great insights. You must get about a dozen of these requests every day so the chances of you picking mine are probably slimmer than me getting into Wharton, but hey…

    UK Investment Banker currently at boutique focused on renewable energy / cleantech M&A
    Age: 29
    Nationality: British
    Undergrad: Oxford Uni
    Degree: Classics (Latin, Greek, philosophy etc). First class hons (don’t know what that is GPA wise)
    Work: London based pan-European boutique focusing on M&A and capital raises for traditional and high-tech renewable energy. 3 years here
    Work Experience to date: trained as an analyst at Morgan Stanley in Dubai and London (2 years), and with HSBC in London, always IB focusing on M&A
    Extra currics: Secretary of boat club at Uni, debating society at Oxford, officer on a number of smaller committees, post Uni I founded and completed the ‘Great British Triathlon’ – an endurance challenge involving a swim across the English channel – to raise money for charity: raised $25k plus through organising range of fundraisers, raffles, corporate sponsorship, media coverage etc
    Goals: long-term: startup an angel / VC fund investing in the crossover of green energy and high tech. Short-term: anything that will get me there (PE / VC / Hedgie)


    Would be great to hear your insights. Thanks!

  • Mr. Hispanic Engineer

    Hi Sandy,

    Can you please review my profile and evaluate my odds of getting into my top choices. I’ve looked through all your previous articles and could not find a match similar to mine so I’m giving it a shot in the comments.

    -Why MBA: I want to work in the tech sector in strategy. Long term want to help more hispanics go to college and study STEM fields.
    -Schools: Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley, Kellog, MIT
    -Graduate from a leadership development program with the Nielsen company
    -Program manager for a large global program at Nielsen
    -Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Florida
    -GMAT 720
    -GPA 3.1
    -25 Yr old Hispanic male
    -first person from my family to go to college
    -worked most of college in order to finance education. Graduated with no debt.
    -Now: Management Leadership for Tomorrow, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, National Society of Hispanic MBA’s (chapter officer)
    -During college: several officer positions within my fraternity, president of several clubs during college

    Thank you!

  • decisionsdecisions

    Also I forgot to add, that I have done some research as an undergrad
    And my goals are basically M-7
    I have a high lsat score (over 175) also for when I thought I might go to law school, is that worth anything?

  • decisionsdecisions

    Gmat 780
    3.75 from a top 10 ug in econ

    spent a year working with a startup during undergrad that has been venture funded
    year and a half working with a boutique strategy consulting firm

    In college, was part of a club that worked with refugees in the area, spent a summer working with a human rights group in Africa, have some international experience in the middle east
    Since college have continued to work with refugees through a nonprofit
    Also dunno if helpful but i run long distance races such as half marathons

  • Uri

    29 year old Male.
    L.L.B. from Tel Aviv Uni (best law school in the country)
    GMAT 640 (suffer from severe ADHD)
    GPA 3.4
    Work experience: total 11 years (including military service)
    2.5 years as junior Associate in the largest law firm in Israel.
    5 years as manager of major competitive Tennis club.
    4 years as an agent in the Prime Minister’s Office (served two years in various locations abroad)
    3 years military service in the intelligence corps
    Extracurricular: member of national Tennis league, Established and operated a non-profit Tennis program for underprivileged children (2 years), Offered practical legal assistance to those without means in different legal matters (2 years), Today teach Elementary School Children of Ethiopian origin theories in law. Fluent in French and Italian. Was a member of the university’s Debate Club (won 2010 world championship). Engage in about any kind of sports there is.
    3 year Goal: to join an Energy/ Infrastructure company.
    10 year goal: to further develop family business (infrastructure consulting) and merge with large corporation.
    Interested in: MIT, Michigan, Chicago, Berkley, Cornell, Duke.

  • www1010

    Hi Sandy,

    Would be great to get your input and suggestions for improvement.

    Background and education:
    24 years old at time of application
    Chinese-born American
    GMAT: 750 (47Q/46v) – a bit concerned about below 80% Q
    3.5 GPA at Georgetown School of Foreign Service
    Study abroad at London School of Economics

    1.5 years at Google (YouTube) at time of application
    1 year at $30billion assets under management investment firm

    Undergraduate research in China
    Board member of tutoring group for underprivileged
    Writing – published in Time Magazine
    Congressional intern
    Intramural sports

    Work at the crossroads of China, Tech, and Finance or Management. Namely interested in venture capital, strategic role at Tech Fortune 500, or management consulting with Tech focus.

    Wharton (Lauder)
    Kellog (JD?/MBA)
    London Business School


  • Kiwi

    Hi Sandy, love the series. Your insights would be much appreciated.

    -24 year old white male. New Zealand/US dual citizen, although lived all my life in NZ
    -3.87 GPA from top NZ university
    – Double degree Physics and Music (including many awards in both disciplines and top student in music)
    – Yet to sit GMAT, but sat GRE a few years ago and achieved 800 quant and 670 Verbal

    2.5 years (at matriculation) at a world class Acoustic Consultancy company.
    During my time here I have dealt with acoustics in major industrial, environmental, architectural, performing arts and infrastructure projects.
    Regularly work in a team environment with colleagues as well as with engineers, architects, planners etc on projects.
    Have been key worker in my company of a large industrial research project with lots of responsibility.

    Professional musician and songwriter (guitar) including nomination for NZ Music Award
    Co-ordinator in climate change organization
    Volunteer at not-for-profit offering performance opportunities to young people with disabilities
    Travelled extensively in Asia, Europe, America and parts of Africa
    Avid skier, cricket and rugby player/fan

    Would like to leverage from my physics background and diverse exposure to many industries in my job, as well as experience in climate change movement to be a business leader in clean tech.

    Target (Looking to apply for programs starting 2013):


    Thanks in advance!

  • California girl

    Been following this series closely and curiosity has finally got the better of me!

    GMAT: 700 (verbal is v. high, quant is much less so)
    GPA: 3.9 in Molecular & Cellular Biology from a top 20 school. Plus, took and got A’s in 2 classes since graduation, incl corp finance
    Work experience: was 1st full time employee at a renewable energy company which is now the largest of its kind in the nation and around 170 employees (have worked there 4.5 yrs). Did sales and marketing, now in software product mgmt (2.5 yrs). Excellent track record of being given increased responsibility.
    Career vision: Would love to figure out a way to repeat the success of my current company but in the developing world, i.e. deploying renewable energy w/ a for profit model
    Why bschool: I’ve witnessed one highly successful example in the corporate world but a broad business education would really accelerate my professional development. A school w/ a strong entrepreneurial focus is a must
    Extras: Was extremely involved in college (prez of org that ran freshman orientation, held offices in sorority, participated in music school). Much less so now, but got back involved ~6mo ago — volunteering for a nonprofit that aspires do to solar in developing countries, adviser for collegian officers in local sorority chapter, and have done alumni interviews for undergrad univ on and off

    Would be 28 yrs old w/ 6 yrs work experience at matriculation

    Schools: Stanford, Harvard, Berkeley, MIT

  • world citizen

    Hi Sandy,

    Thanks for doing this series. Really appreciate it. After scouring through pages of profiles looking for one that has similarities to my background, I wasn’t able to find any. Hopefully you’ll be able to review my profile to give me and those who have the same profile as me an idea of their chances to the schools mentioned below:

    Stanford (top choice), HBS, Kellogg, Fuqua, Insead, other top schools I qualify for?

    – 720 GMAT
    – 3.6 GPA, latin honors from west coast public ivy
    – 25 y/o female minority

    – Experience:
    1. First job after college – Financial advisor working at a regional independent RIA in west coast, did mostly client service, but licensed and sold securities and insurance that amounted to 7-figures
    2. Quit job and enrolled in intensive summer business program at top b-school to transfer into the marketing field in tough economy
    4. Stints at boutique marketing strategy firm, marketing research firm and university serving well-known clients in these industries: electronics, CPG, retail, government agency (NIH)
    5. Online content writer at popular, growing tech startup
    6. Current job: research and analytics at top digital/traditional advertising agencies serving a top CPG advertiser

    – Leadership positions on-campus in various student groups, honor societies, named a Fellow (leadership board within university honors program)
    – UNICEF volunteer
    – Various volunteer trips abroad
    – Volunteers at soup kitchen
    – Tutors high school kids at a nationally recognized tutoring center, mentors youth
    – Very active in alumni group
    – Member of elite professional women’s organization founded by Goldman Sachs execs
    – Attended weekend diversity programs at top b-schools
    – Toastmasters
    – Speaks 3 languages
    – Immigrant struggle, came to US during teenage years, lived in low-income neighborhood

    GOAL: work at a multinational company abroad (Asia/emerging markets in a marketing role

    Currently deciding between master’s in marketing or MBA, looking forward to your review!

  • Onion boy

    Hi sir,

    I’m a 23 year old Chinese Filipino

    I graduated with a degree in Management Science minor in Chinese Studies from the top university in the Philippines (honors course top 10% of applicants only)

    3.16 GPA graduated top 20% of batch
    Passed CFA level 1(top bracket in all topics)
    Passed Insurance Commission Licensure Exam

    GMAT 720

    Currently second in command at my father’s company which is in the top 5 in local red onion distribution in the country.
    the company operates half a hectare in cold strorage facilities.
    Net income per year is at $ 2 million
    I plan to get an MBA to be able to protect the local industry and the farmers as well.

    I am active with the local ivy league community and could possible ask for recommendations with the presidents of the Philippine associations.

    I want to know my chances at JD/MBA at harvard, duke, yale or stanford. Thanks!

  • Y- Champ

    Hi Sandy
    It would be great to hear your insights on my chances
    Age 31, male, Indian
    GMAT -700( may retake )
    Profile – Corporate Banker , India
    Education – Chartered accountant , India ( tough course if you haven’t heard about it) , Bachelor of Commerce ( average scores)
    Work experience – 6 years in Banking
    Citibank (Jan 2006-March 08) – Assistant manager
    Started off with retail banking @ Citi, setting up a small Mortgages credit shop ( included setting up a team , vendors etc)for in a tier 2 Indian City and then moved to a sales role within Citi for business banking after an year.
    HSBC ( March 2008- Feb2010) – Risk analyst , Corporate banking
    Moved to a newly founded risk analysis unit for Corporate banking, which helped me pick up the nuances of large ticket deals. Worked on funding an expansion plan for a cement manufacturer ( deal size of Usd 30 mio)

    Standard Chartered bank ( Feb 2010 onwards)- Associate director, Mid markets, Corporate Banking
    Credit analysis for mid market clients, handled important cross border relationships between India and Srilanka. Worked on land mark deals.
    Played an instrumental role in having a record breaking year in terms of revenues for my region.

    Extra curriculars- nothing major to write home about, but I’ve won prizes at acting for skits at various school level competitions. Even won the best actor for a contest held in my bank.

    Schools I’m gunning for- Insead, Columbia, Kellog , Stern, Tuck.

    Post MBA goal- intend to work in consulting for span of 10 years, build my network and then start my own firm in India. I’ve worked in my dad’s accounting firm for 3 years as an apprentice during my chartered accountancy student days. I’m sure my calling lies in starting my own set up.

  • Scout

    Hi Sandy,

    Love the series, keep up the good work! I know you’ve covered military odds before, but was wondering if you could approach it from a deferred admissions angle for me?

    – 700 GMAT (retaking this summer)
    – 3.4 GPA in Accounting at University of Washington (currently a junior)
    – Served in U.S. Army Infantry for four years, non-commissioned officer, two deployments to Iraq, made rank of SGT in 18 months, received a high-ranking ‘Valor’ award for combat actions
    – One year as a consultant for a defense contractor overseas after getting out of the military and before starting at UW.
    – Landed an internship as a financial analyst with a ‘supermajor’ oil/gas company this summer
    – I’m light on extracurricular because I work part time while taking a full course load (fiscal assistant at university)
    – 27 y/o white male, first generation college graduate from a long line of Army and USMC enlisted infantrymen.
    – Goal: work as a Project Manager or consultant in renewable energy sector. Hoping my internship will support this.

    I’m targeting Stanford and HBS 2 year deferral programs, but am open to your thoughts on other good programs for graduating seniors. If I don’t get in as a senior, will be looking at Darden and Duke a couple years down the road.


  • Mr. Engineer-in-biz

    Hi, Sandy.

    This series of articles really rocks, I love the humor!. Let’s hope you like my profile and I see it posted in the near future!
    Again, thanks for your time on doing this!!

    – Spanish, male, 29
    – 770 GMAT
    – Aerospace Engineer – GPA 2.5 from a top Engineering School in Spain. (top 5% of my peers, I have College statistics to back this, scores tend to be much lower in Spain)
    – 6 months in France at R&D, then 5 years in Procter&Gamble Spain, 2.5 as business analyst in a Business Development team and 2.5 as marketing manager. Managed a team of 3 people (outsourced) during the last 2 years
    – Extracurricular activities include leading the University Drama club for some years (scriptwriter, director and actor), collaborations with university magazines, 500-people events organization…
    – Some entrepreneurial activities (one project awarded on university contest but never executed, and some not-very-successful experiments while working. Currently on local government program for entrepreneurs).
    – Slight collaborations with NGOs.

    Wondering if Spanish can play the Latino card. Wondering if too old for top B-Schools

    Goal: acquire knowledge on biz to set up my own company.
    Target: HBS, Stanford, MIT, Kellogg, Chicago, NYU

  • Gone Surfing

    Big fan of these articles, and I look forward to your thoughts:

    -Taking the GMAT this summer
    -3.75 GPA
    -BS in Political Science with Honors from Carnegie Mellon
    -3.62 GPA
    -BS in Mathematics, magna cum laude, Temple Univ. (was thinking about becoming an economist, thought it would help get into a PhD program)
    -Received awards as the top graduating student in the department for both degrees
    -Work experience is six years as an officer in the US Navy, serving as a surface warfare officer, leading up to 70 personnel over three deployments and numerous in port inspections and events
    -Extracurriculars include volunteer work with the United Way and with ocean conservation organizations in Hawaii. First in my family to join the military- unusual career choice for Indian-American.
    -Goal: The Navy does not have a dynamic, creative culture and the bureaucracy can be stifling. I want to study how companies, particularly in Silicon Valley, foster entrepreneurial and innovative cultures. I would like to put this in action at a major consulting firm and eventually return to government to change the Navy and change how foreign policy is made.
    -28 year old Indian American male

    Targets: Applying for dual MBA/MA in Intl Relations programs:
    (MA programs are at Princeton and Johns Hopkins, if that matters)