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Kelley Connect Week offers an intensive seven-day introduction to the Kelley Direct Program, held in person at Indiana University. Students work with a team over the course of the week on a case competition. Students met with their teams on May 13, 2019

Indiana Kelley’s Director of Admissions Shares Insider Tips for Getting Into the Online MBA Program

Indiana University’s Kelley Direct MBA program, which ranks number one in P&Q’s “Best Online MBA Programs of 2023,” is at the top for a reason.

A pioneer in the online space, Kelley offers an online MBA program centered around a customizable and a forward-thinking curriculum. The prestigious online program is also the toughest online MBA program to get accepted into, with an acceptance rate of about 28%.

Fortune recently sat down with Sarah Wanger, the executive director for Kelley Direct programs, who offered insight into what Kelley adcoms are looking for and how applicants can build a stand-out application.


Kelley looks for three main values when considering applicants: humility, perseverance, and tenacity.  

“At a high level, those are the types of things that we want to see either in an essay or in a resume,”, she says. “Those three are the values that we really look for in our students both in that admissions context, but also when they’re here as students.”


Flexibility is a common factor that nearly all online MBA programs share. But flexibility can mean different things depending on the applicant.

At Kelley, half of the required 54 credits are elective credits that students can choose based on their goals and interests. Additionally, Kelley offers both synchronous and asynchronous learning with live classes every week for each course. These are unique factors that applicants should highlight when demonstrating what flexibility means to them.

“Oftentimes candidates want an online program because it’s flexible, and we say and ‘What do you mean by that?’ Because we may or may not be the right fit for the flexibility they’re looking for,” Wanger says.


Kelley’s admissions process includes an enrollment interview, where applicants have the opportunity to ask questions about the program and share details about themselves. Wanger stresses the importance of coming to this interview with questions prepared.

“I think some folks go into it thinking, ‘Oh, this is probably just going to be a sales call, they’re going to try to pitch me in there,’” Wanger says. “No, this is a true enrollment interview. We have lots of questions for you and then we expect you would ask questions of us.”

Applicants should view the interview as an opportunity to highlight their experiences in professional life, teamwork, and communicative skills, Wanger says.

“During that interview, we want to make sure that the student can articulate how they use their own quantitative capabilities in their professional lives.”

Sources: Fortune, P&Q



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