Tuck Got Hundreds Of New MBA Applicants In Its New R4 Deadline

Tuck Class Photo Day

For years, Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business has welcomed its prospective MBA candidates to come to Hanover for a sit-down interview without the need to pass a first application hurdle. But for the first time in recent memory, the school decided to do away with that practice and only interview applicants invited by its admissions committee like most other business schools.

“People were disappointed,” concedes Executive Director of Admissions & Financial Aid Luke Peña, who says the policy change occurred because the pandemic meant that the school could no longer do interviews on campus. “They thought we were giving away a differentiator in our process. Many applicants told us we were taking away their agency.”

So Tuck reversed course—at least somewhat. “We reconsidered our interview policy and we found an alternative solution,” he says. “We think this is a good solution and a fair and equitable one. We are guaranteeing that applicants who complete an application by Sept. 1 will be given an opportunity to interview.” That deadline is 27 days before the school’s newly published round one cutoff of Sept. 28.


Luke Anthony Peña. Tuck photo

The interviews will be done virtually, just like Tuck’s new fall term which for first-year MBA students will begin with an online version of Tuck Launch, the school’s orientation program, starting on Saturday, Aug. 8. Even for students able to make it to Tuck’s residential halls will be doing their studies online. When the second fall term begins in October, there may be a more blended approach but that is yet to be determined.

While Peña says he will pull 10 to 20 more candidates off its waitlist, the school also expects to enroll a full class of some 285 students. Many other business schools are expecting to enroll smaller incoming classes this year due to deferments, largely of international students who can’t obtain student visas in time or whose countries have travel restrictions. Harvard Business School, for example, is enrolling a class that is roughly 230 students shy of its 930 to 940 goal. “We believe that is the right size, and I am very happy to say we are on track to reach that goal,” says Peña. “We are still admitting a few people and deferring others but we have every reason to believe that we will land at or near 285 and it will be a class that will rival and in some cases exceed previous classes.”

Both the number of requests for deferrals as well as the number of deferrals granted by the school have been “similar” to previous years. “For each person who requested a deferral, we had a conversation on whether it made sense for them and for us and that led to an outcome where the number of people we have said ‘yes’ to for a deferral is similar to earlier years,” he says. “We have granted some and not approved others. I also want applicants to apply next year without having given away a large number of seats.”


Pena said the school’s decision to add a round 4 with rolling admissions due to COVID-19 helped to increase MBA applications by nearly 10% this year. “I anticipated that we might get several dozen applications in that extra round. We received several hundred.  So the increased interest in business school was evident and clear. The influx of talented candidates at that stage was wonderful to see. Its success is exactly the reason we plan to offer it this year and likely for many years to come.”

Pena, who has been working from his home in Hanover since mid-March, says most of the additional applications Tuck received in round 4 were pretty solid. “As in every round, there were some applicants that did not demonstrate the qualifications. But there were others who had been planning to apply for an MBA for some time and the impact of COVID accelerated their plans. Many of those candidates were always going to be well prepared. They were just prepared for next year instead of now.”

Tuck also reviewed candidates with what Pena calls “a certain amount of empathy. There were many people who could not dedicate the amount of time we normally see in their applications,” he acknowledges. “We attempted to look past that and understood that some components may have been a little more rushed. It called on all of us to be empathetic in our work. We became confident in the quality underneath, especially when we got to interview them.


The school’s new application, which went live this week, is “very stable and steady,” adds Pena. “We acknowledge there is so much change in the world that we didn’t want to create a lot of change for our applicants. So we have the same essay question along with three rounds and we retained that round four. We found some really talented candidates in round 4 that we would have otherwise missed. In prior years, the application was already closed by then, but people are ready to apply at all different times.”

Tuck set a round 1 application deadline of Sept. 28th, with decisions due on Dec. 10th. Those invited to interview for that round should get their invites between mid-August and early-December. The round 2 deadline is Jan. 4, 2021, with decisions out by March 18th. Interviews for that round would occur between early December and mid-March. The round 3 cutoff ends March 29th for decisions on May 6th. Interviews would run between mid-March and late April. Then, Tuck will entertain candidates in round 4 up until June 1 with rolling admission decisions. These applicants would be invited to interview between late April and late June.


Application Round Application Deadline Admissions Decision Enrollment Decision and Deposit Due
Round 1* September 28, 2020 December 10, 2020 February 15, 2021
Round 2 January 4, 2021 March 18, 2021 April 26, 2021
Round 3 March 29, 2021 May 6, 2021 May 28, 2021
Round 4 Rolling from April 1, 2021 to June 1, 2021 Rolling from May 10, 2021 to July 1, 2021 2 weeks after admission offer date
Round 1 Consortium*† October 15, 2020 December 10, 2020 February 15, 2021 or April 26, 2021§
Round 2 Consortium January 5, 2021 March 18, 2021 April 26, 2021


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