For 2020-2021 MBA applicants to the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, the admissions team is maintaining its expanded list of testing options and test waivers put into effect at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The school said it would continue to accept LSATs and MCATs as well as the Executive Assessment in lieu of either a GMAT or GRE.
No less important, Darden said it would consider waiving standardized tests altogether for applicants with “strong alternate indicators of academic, personal or professional accomplishment.” A waiver request, the school’s officials explained, could be supported by a prior SAT or ACT score.
“Standardized tests have always been just one indication of a student’s ability to succeed at Darden, and we continue to broaden our criteria for consideration, accepting a number of standardized tests and offering test waivers to create flexibility for applicants,” said Dawna Clarke, executive director of admissions, in a statement. “Our message to applicants is to find the approach that’s right for you. Our Admissions Committee stands ready to help you consider your options and put your best foot forward in our application process.”
DARDEN OFFERS A NEW BINDING OPTION TO ITS EARLY ACTION ROUND WITH A SEPT. 2 DEADLINE
The school is still describing its accommodations as an “expanded pilot” based on its “successful experience this spring” as well as what the school called “additional analysis” on the statistical significance of standardized test scores’ ability to predict academic success. “When the spread of the coronavirus closed standardized testing sites across the world in March, the Darden School offered increased options for applicants to demonstrate evidence of academic aptitude and accomplishment,” according to the statement. “The increased flexibility proved successful for both applicants and the Darden Admissions team, allowing Darden to offer accommodation and additional ways for applicants to demonstrate academic excellence without lowering admission criteria.”
Darden also appears likely to increase its scholarship dollars to successful applicants. The school said its new expanded scholarship offerings will be announced in July. Darden Dean Scott Beardsley is on the record indicating that he wants to make the Darden MBA experience among the more affordable options in the premium business school market.
The school also is offering a new binding early action option for students whose first choice is Darden. Similar to the early decision option at Columbia Business School, accepted applicants who will be asked to pay a nonrefundable deposit and withdraw applications from other schools. “As applicants fully commit to Darden, Darden will in-turn commit to them,” the school explained. “Those admitted via this path will gain access to a host of opportunities, including networking opportunities, career resources and access to prematriculation learning modules to help them accelerate their MBA journey, and engagement with the Darden community.”
FOUR APPLICATION ROUNDS FOR 2020-2021 ADMISSIONS CYCLE
All told, Darden will continue to offer four application rounds, including a nonbinding early action round with a deadline of Sept. 2nd. Either early action option allows candidates an open interview schedule with an admissions official. Applicants in the remaining three rounds would otherwise have to be invited to interview if they are not released.
The Darden admissions deadlines for the Class of 2023 are:
Early Action: Wednesday, 2 September
Round 1: Monday, 5 October
Round 2: Monday, 4 January 2021
Round 3: Wednesday, 7 April 2021
The school did not announce specific dates for interview invites or final decisions. Interview notification at Darden can take place at any time up until the decision release date for the deadline which are yet to be announced.
APPLICATION ALREADY LIVE ON THE SCHOOL’S WEBSITE
Darden’s application, which went live today (June 10), requires a series of short essays related to the School’s core values, including questions related to diversity and inclusion, leadership, and collaboration. Applicants are also offered space to share more about their personal history, as Darden seeks to learn more about each individual.
Applicants who apply directly to Darden may signal their interest in being referred to The Consortium directly on the application. Applicants who wish to apply to Darden via The Consortium during Round 1 or Round 2 should use its deadlines of 15 October and 5 January, respectively.
Darden maintains a consistent review process throughout the application rounds. The School is also need-blind in its admissions process and provides full financial aid for any domestic or international student that has completed the necessary financial and visa paperwork.