Over the past 10 years, Yale SOM has become one of the most sought-after MBA programs with applications topping 4,000 for a class of approximately 350. With strong connections to Yale University, SOM’s international network and brand recognition are only rivaled by a handful of institutions on earth.
Yale SOM is “the best business school to come to if you want to make a difference in society,” according to Assistant Dean for Admissions Bruce DelMonico. And as a former member of the recruiting team at the school, I can affirm that SOM is an excellent fit for people intrigued by big, complex problems that require dynamic, multi-disciplinary solutions.
Technically, Yale SOM challenges students across all the core disciplines and fundamentals one would expect from a highly selective business program, but culturally it’s a place for curious, forward-thinking students who like to make new connections and explore old problems from new angles. Yale SOM is a rigorous professional program animated by the spirit of a liberal arts institution.
3 REASONS WHY YALE SOM SHOULD BE ON YOUR MBA TARGET LIST
1. Make a difference in business and society.
The Covid-19 pandemic is an excellent example of the kind of global challenge (along with climate change, political and religious extremism, capitalism, and so on) that can only be met with creative, scalable solutions built around public-private collaboration. Given its mission of educating leaders for business and society, Yale SOM is a natural choice for applicants with a leading interest in ESG (environmental, social, and governance) sustainability, and more broadly it is a place for people who want to do well in a traditional, for-profit role or industry without doing any harm. The school often thinks of management as a profession on par with law, medicine, or architecture – all of which require practitioners to mind the moral dimensions of their work and consider its impact on the public good.
2. The “most global US business school.”
Dean Ted Snyder, who led Yale SOM from 2011-2019, set out to make SOM “the most global US business school.” Yale SOM was the first US program to make international travel a requirement for graduation, and it helped launch the Global Network for Advanced Management, which helps 32 top business schools around the world share knowledge, students, faculty, and opportunities. International representation within the Yale SOM student body is among the highest of top US business schools, reaching 31% for the class of 2020.
3. Leadership in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI).
Yale SOM has distinguished itself as a leader when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion and has invested heavily in programs and partnerships that elevate traditionally underrepresented voices in business and business education. It was ahead of many of its peers in developing internal programs and forging partnerships with organizations like the Forté Foundation and The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management. The current Dean, Kerwin Charles, is a public policy expert whose scholarship focuses on wealth and income inequality, particularly as it relates to race and gender. Fittingly, SOM’s application reflects the school’s interest in students who are empathetic, aware of our interdependence, and keen to challenge established wisdom.
WHAT YALE SOM IS LOOKING FOR IN YOUR MBA APPLICATION
Yale SOM has introduced several innovative features to their application in recent years, including a behavioral assessment, a personal assessment, a pre-interview assignment, and behaviorally anchored recommender forms. These elements have made the application more objective and more efficient, helping applicants and the admissions team focus on what matters most while boosting the predictive power of each candidate’s admission portfolio.
So, what is Yale SOM looking for, and what do you need to know to maximize your chances of admissions success? Here are three tips for crafting standout application to Yale SOM:
1. Highlight your social awareness.
Because Yale SOM’s mission is to educate leaders for business and society, some people assume the school wants to see applicants with lots of volunteer work, a background in non-profit leadership, or a desire to get into green energy. That’s not entirely wrong: Yale SOM is a leading destination for folks interested in social ventures, and the school has a unique tuition forgiveness program for alumni who go into non-profit leadership, but people often overlook the fact that nearly 75% of SOM graduates go into consulting, financial services, or technology.
It’s great if you come from one of these dominant industries or are eyeing one for your future – Yale SOM has all the resources to challenge and support you – the school only asks that you think about how your work relates to the public interest. The school is looking for students who are unafraid to confront the ethical implications of their work and reflect on issues of citizenship and sustainability. To change the world requires thinking and doing at scale, and Yale wants to give its grads the tools to do so with the help of a strong moral compass.
2. Be yourself.
Yale SOM has a unique component to its admissions process: the behavioral assessment. The 25-minute online test requires candidates to review 120 pairs of statements and select the one from each pair that best matches their own behaviors. The tool is adaptive, which means that no two applicants receive the exact same questions. The good news for applicants is that there is no need (or way) to prepare for the assessment, which is built around a set of inter-and intrapersonal competencies associated with success in business school.
Our advice is to relax, there truly are no right or wrong answers. The neutral framework of the assessment helps keep the admissions team – and the candidates – honest. Yale SOM has embraced the idea that great leaders come from many molds, and the admissions team is empowered to build a class of students with diverse personal and professional traits. Remember that the results will be reviewed in the context of your full application. If your recommenders describe you as a detail-oriented systems thinker and you try to project yourself as a blue-sky visionary, it could leave an application reader wondering about the disconnect. Just be yourself, and the parts of your application will naturally line up.
3. Understand Yale SOM’s “bias toward action.”
Bruce DelMonico, the aforementioned leader of SOM’s admission office, has often talked about Yale SOM’s “bias towards action,” which shows up in Yale’s single extended essay question: “Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made.” As noted in my recent article on Yale SOM Essay Tips & Strategy, Yale is explicit in its request for you to write about “behaviors that support” your stated commitment, imploring you to “be honest with [yourself].” Yale is looking for something more objective and dispassionate than other schools. If it’s presented clearly, the admissions committee should be able to infer what moves you and what matters most in your life. The “why” is always important, but Yale wants you to focus more on the “how.”
Zachary White is an Expert Coach at MBA admissions coaching firm Fortuna Admissions and former Yale SOM Assistant Director of Admissions. For a candid assessment of your chances of admission success at a top MBA program, sign up for a free consultation.