The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has kicked off its 2019-2020 admissions season with a set of MBA application deadlines that requires round one early birds to get their applications in by Sept. 17th. The round two deadline is Jan. 7th, while the round three and final deadline for the Class of 2022 is April Fools Day on the first of the month.
Round one candidates will get either an interview invite or a rejection on Oct. 29 with final decisions due a week before Christmas on Dec. 18. Interview invites for round two applicants go out Feb. 13th with final decisions out on March 26th. Third round applicants will learn if they’ve gained an interview on April 16th, with final decisions due on May 8th.
For candidates interested in the school’s highly popular dual degree program with Penn’s Lauder School, there are just two deadlines: A round one cutoff of Sept. 17th, with final decisions released on Dec. 18, and a round two deadline of Jan. 7, with decisions out on March 26th.
2019-2020 Wharton MBA Application Deadlines
|Round||Deadline||Interview Invites||Final Decisions|
|Round 1||Sept. 17, 2019||Oct. 29, 2019||Dec. 18, 2019|
|Round 2||Jan. 7, 2020||Feb. 13, 2020||March 26, 2020|
|Round 3||April 1, 2020||April 16, 2020||May 8, 2020|
ONE UNUSUAL TWIST TO WHARTON’S PROCESS: THE TEAM-BASED DISCUSSION
Wharton strongly advises candidates to apply in the first and second rounds and makes an app to its Lauder and JD/MBA programs mandatory in those rounds. “Space in the class becomes more limited for round 3 applicants, resulting in a more competitive round,” according to the school.
To be considered for a round, you must submit a completed application by 5 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) on the day of the deadline. If you submit your application after the deadline for Round 1 or 2, it will be rolled into the next round. If you submit your application after the deadline for Round 3, it will not be accepted. If you submit an application earlier in a round, you can confirm receipt via the online application system and will have more time to schedule an interview. Interviews are by invitation only. At any point, applicants can use the online application system to check the status of their applications.
Wharton requires applicants to complete two essays. The first prompt to be answered in fewer than 500 words: “What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA?” The second essay, with a 400-word limit, asks candidates to “describe an impactful experience or accomplishment that is not reflected elsewhere in your application. How will you use what you learned through that experience to contribute to the Wharton community?”
There’s one unusual wrinkle in Wharton’s application process that is less common at other schools. When applicants are invited to interview, they are asked to participate in a team-based discussion with four to five other candidates. Last year, for example, would-be students were asked to come up with a new orientation for incoming MBA students. The 35-minute exercise is meant to identify your communication style, level of engagement, leadership skills, and decision-making ability. The teams are randomly assigned based on your preferred time and location (on campus or one of our off-campus locations around the world). Wharton also sets aside time for a “brief individual conversation” with a member of the admission staff.
LAST YEAR 6,245 APPLICANTS VIED FOR 862 SEATS IN THE CLASS
By the numbers, the Class of 2020 was a close facsimile to the previous year. One difference, however, was the number of applications, which fell from 6,692 to 6,245. Overall, this decline had little discernable impact on the class. In the end, Wharton enrolled 862 full-time MBAs last fall, just two members short of the 2019 Class. At the same time, the school’s acceptance rate rose a nominal 1.4% to 20.6%. By the same token, Wharton admitted two more students than the year previous. Translation: 67% of applicants who received an acceptance ultimately joined the class.
Average GMAT scores showed a slight uptick from the previous class, with scores rising from 730 to 732, a tie with three other schools for the highest reported averages for an MBA class in the U.S. However, average GPA held steady at 3.6. The percentage of female students fell a point to 43%, while the number of international students increased two points. Minority students, which Wharton defines as African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic-American, Native-American, and Hawai’ian, again accounted for 33% of the class. In the biggest divergence, the number of countries featured in the class jumped from 65 to 80.
While Wharton is regaled for its finance chops, the school’s 2020 class profile reveals a secret. Nearly half of the class hails from the liberal arts! This year, 45% of the class holds undergraduate degrees in humanities-related fields. This number equates to a 4% improvement over the previous year. With every rise comes a fall – and STEM took the brunt of it. Two years ago, the percentage of STEM students rose four points. This year, it dropped three points to a return-to-normal 29%. Business-related majors hold the remaining 26% of class seats.
APPLICANT ADVICE FROM WHARTON MBA GRADUATES
“The advice I always give to prospective applicants is: be yourself! Once you pour out your heart and soul into the essays, make sure your friends and relatives can recognize your unique voice. The common pitfall I see is applicants trying to project a certain image of themselves that they think will be prized by the admissions committee. In the competitive pool of the MBA applications, a natural way to stand out is by being genuine, which often means exposing your vulnerabilities and owning up to your shortcomings. The whole process is a marathon, not a sprint, so you can never stress enough the importance of preparation and pacing yourself and your recommenders. Starting the thought process early on why you are applying to school in the first place will shine through your application materials. Finally, try to visit the campus. If you can’t, at least virtually engage with students and clubs of your interest. You can gain a lot of great insight you just won’t be able to glean from examining the glossy brochure or website.” — Michal Benedykcinski, Class of 2019
“Do whatever you can to figure out what makes Wharton unique. If you can, visit campus and sit in on classes. If it’s not possible to come to Philadelphia, set up calls with current students and alumni. So much of Wharton is student-run, and students are best positioned to tell you about what your time would be like here. And when you apply, it helps to show that you’ve done your homework: demonstrate through your essays what it is about Wharton that makes it the best fit for you, as well as emphasizing what role you would play in the Wharton community. The Admissions Office is deliberate in building a class, so make it easy for them to see how you would contribute to other students’ MBA experience.” — Medora Brown, Class of 2019
“Wharton (and Penn at-large) prides itself on interdisciplinary learning from across departments and academic schools. I am the first Wharton MBA student (and hopefully not the last!) to pursue a joint Masters in Urban Spatial Analytics from Penn School of Design alongside my Wharton MBA, with the hopes of integrating location-based data analytics into my real estate career. Not only does Wharton offer six credits to all MBAs that can be used toward taking coursework from Penn’s other schools (e.g. Penn Medicine, Penn Law, Penn Engineering), but it encourages interdisciplinary endeavors. See if you can find an exciting interdisciplinary opportunity to pursue here! Many classmates pursuing dual-degree programs (such as those with the Computer Science or Education departments) did not decide to pursue a secondary degree until arriving at Wharton.” — Jibran Khan, Class of 2019
“Take the time to learn about yourself and tell a story that only you can tell. Having an authentic story will help you shine as a candidate and anchor you during your time as a student. I chose Wharton because it felt like a place that would help me grow the most. Wharton can feel like the opposite of warm and fuzzy and is full of intense, brilliant classmates. I have become a stronger and fuller person by learning to thrive at a place like Wharton while still being true to myself. My mom got her doctorate in physics at Penn, so choosing Wharton also felt like it honored her in a small way. I love passing the David Rittenhouse Lab on my daily walk to school, where she had spent four years as a student (and I don’t think it changed one bit since the 80s!).” — Haesun (Jess) Seok, Class of 2019