NYU Stern Unveils Big Changes To MBA App

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NYU Stern School of Business

NYU Stern’s School of Business today (June 12) unveiled the most dramatic changes to its MBA application in many years. Among other things, the new application requirements will assess candidates on “fit” with the school’s culture by adding what Stern is calling an emotional intelligence (EQ) endorsement from a colleague or peer and a new “Pick Six” essay that requires candidates to submit six images, such as pictures, charts, infographics or artwork, along with six short captions to best express who they are to the admissions committee.

Also for the first time, NYU Stern is allowing candidates to apply to all of its MBA program options, including the school’s two new one-year specialized MBAs in tech and fashion and luxury, in one application. Even students who want to apply to Stern’s part-time MBA can use the same application. Last year, 3,773 candidates applied to Stern’s full-time MBA program. The school admitted 872 applicants for an acceptance rate of 23.1% and enrolled 390 students into the Class of 2018.

“These are the biggest changes we have implemented in any year that I’ve been here and we hope it’s a little bit industry shaping, changing the way things are done,” says Isser Gallogly, associate dean of MBA admissions and innovation, who had been in Stern admissions for 14 years. “We believe these changes will help applicants more effectively communicate to the committee who they are as a person, which programs best suit their goals and how they demonstrate EQ. Additionally, these changes are much more in keeping with the ‘social media’ style of communication of today’s applicant. Applicants communicate with much more than words these days and visual elements now play a dominant role.”


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NYU Stern’s Isser Gallogly, associate dean of MBA admissions & innovation

NYU Stern says that it already screens and selects students who possess both intellectual as well as emotional intelligence-–what the School calls IQ + EQ. The new MBA application will now require an EQ endorsement in the form of a testimonial provided by an advocate of the applicant that illustrates a specific example of demonstrated EQ to the admissions committee. Unlike typical professional recommendations, which are frequently restricted to supervisors, the EQ endorsement might come from a team member, colleague or friend, for example, who can best attest to the emotional intelligence of the candidate. Anyone outside an immediate family member can endorse an applicant.

“It’s a brand new idea and a new concept,” says Gallogly in an interview with Poets&Quants. “We are looking for students who are not only capable academicaly but also capable in leadership, managing teams and having emotional intelligence. So we really asekd ourselves what can we do to get more insight into a person’s emotional intelligence into their character.”

The EQ endorsement differs from the two professional recommendations Stern continues to require. Endorsers would be asked to provide one specific compelling example that represents the applicant’s EQ.  “LinkedIn has people endorsing you in certain skills,” says Gallogly. ‘This is a similar concept. But we want them to provide a specific story rather than just tell us about their EQ. We want to get behind the assertions that someone is a great leader or a team player. We are hoping to get a more more insight into what this person brings to the table that you cannot get from a personal recommendation.”


Stern also believes it’s a chance for more humble candidates to get an advocate to make a case for them. “Sometimes applicants can sell themselves short,” reasons Gallogly. “They don’t want to say something that could be perceived as bragging. Some are a bit more modest. Sometimes people can’t see their own skills objectively. I feel these EQ endorsers can do that a bit more than applicants themselves. It’s only in rare occasions where a professional recommendation will move an application to a whole other level. I feel like the EQ endorser may be able to do that for the applicant to a greater level.”

Stern also tossed its famous creative essay in favor of what it is calling a “Pick Six” essay. For more than 15 years Stern has featured a personal expression or “creative” essay in which applicants could use just about any means imagined to express who they are as a person to the admissions committee. This year, in an effort to provide additional direction to applicants and create more consistency in the evaluation process without compromising expression, Stern is replacing it with “Pick Six.” Candidates will submit six images, such as pictures, charts, infographics and artwork, along with six short captions to best express who they are.

“We are basically evolving the essay,” explains Gallogly. “It’s kind of like creative essay 2.0. We thought it would be helpful to the applicant to provide a little more structure around it, a little more consistency and it would help us on the evaluation side without getting in the way for them to become very creative. It’s a little like Instagram and social media. The images can be just about anything, a photo or a word cloud or emojis or the picture of a painting and then short captions so we understand why that is meaningful to the applicant. This is how people are communicating these days so I think they will find it to be very familiar and comfrotable but also extremely expressive. I think applicants are going to love it.”