Admissions At A Top B-School Revealed

Duke University's Fuqua School of Business

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

A Top Business School Sheds Light On Their Admissions Process


So you want to become a Blue Devil?  Well, get in line. And be ready to prove you’re among the elite.

That was a recent message from Megan Overbay, Director of Admissions for Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. Recently, she took prospective students inside Duke’s admissions process and answered the questions that are on everyone’s minds: What questions do schools ask when evaluating candidates? What types of experiences and credentials do they truly value? And what can students do to increase their chance of being admitted? Well, you’re in luck: Overbay doesn’t hold anything back.

Whether you’re looking to get into Duke – or any other elite business school program – get ready to start taking notes. These are some of the fundamentals that the school of your dreams are seeking:

Academic Readiness: “We utilize your GMAT or GRE scores, academic record, and work experience relevant to our coursework to answer one fundamental question — Will you be successful in our classrooms? The pace of the MBA program is incredibly fast…When you are balancing rigorous courses with your career search, leading clubs and activities, and your personal commitments, you simply must have the intellectual horsepower and quantitative aptitude to be successful. We do not want you to study 24-7. We want you to network, pursue your career and personal passions, and grow into a stronger leader and team player.”

Work Experience: “We assess your work experience to answer two questions: Will your classmates learn from you? Will your past experience + our program translate well into your future aspirations? The learning in the classroom is not gained simply from the professor sharing his or her knowledge, but rather the students share their personal experiences and insights. Every class involves discussion and team assignments during which classmates share their best practices and ask thought-provoking questions. So, from an admissions perspective,  we assess the quality of your previous professional experiences, including how you progressed compared to your peer group, whether you have team and leadership experiences to draw upon,  if you’ve been exposed to diverse industries/functions/geographies, and whether you had the opportunity to dive deep into specific fields.”

Recommendations:  “Prepare your recommenders so that they understand why you are applying to Fuqua, and how their recommendation can highlight specific aspects of your experience and personality that are not contained elsewhere in your application. DO NOT ghost write your recommendations. DO give your recommenders plenty of time and thank them for their support. If you are unable to ask your current supervisor for a recommendation because they do not know of your business school plans, simply explain this in the optional application essay.”

Leadership & Involvement: “At Fuqua, a notable portion of your learning and development will happen outside of the formal classroom setting. We want to know — Will you be engaged in the community, share and pursue your passions, and make an impact at Fuqua and in the places where you live and work in the future? Your past activities and involvement — the things that you chose to do, rather than what was required for work or school, are the best indication of your potential future impact as a Leader of Consequence.”

Essays: “The essays are where you truly come alive, and where you have the opportunity to weave your application together into your personal story. Who are you as a 3-dimensional person? What are your passions and aspirations? If there are gaps in your resume or potential areas of confusion, have they been addressed?…Please, be genuine and passionate in your response to this essay — take ownership for your accomplishments and blemishes, and aim to provide the Admissions Committee with a holistic understanding of you, what has made you who you are, and what you hope to be.”

Interview: “Will others want to be on your team? Will you impress our recruiters and faculty? Will you make us proud as an alumnus/a? Why is the Daytime MBA program..the right program for you? These are the key questions that our interviewers aim to answer through speaking with you personally.

Source: Duke Fuqua

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.