The Darden MBA: What You Need To Know
At the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, you’ll find world-class master teachers — arguably the best collection of teaching talent at any business school in the world, ranked No. 1 by the Princeton Review. Darden was established in 1955; the University of Virginia was founded in Charlottesville by Thomas Jefferson in 1819. The school’s mission is to improve the world by inspiring responsible leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences.
Darden’s MBA is one of the most premium MBA experiences in the market, and they offer a program that largely revolves around full-time MBA students. No business undergraduates. No part-time evening students. That means the vast majority of the school’s resources are lavished on its relatively small MBA population. Yes, there are two Executive MBA programs and a fairly complete menu of executive education courses that the faculty attend to, but Darden keeps the focus on its flagship MBA program.
Darden welcomed a full January cohort to the Class of 2022, bringing the total to roughly 400 this year. The Darden educational experience, named the best education experience in the U.S. by The Economist for nine years in a row, is best described as “high-engagement” learning. What does high engagement learning look like for students? At Darden, it looks like deliberate and rigorous experiences with much collaboration and student engagement in order to equip students with the skills to become meaningful global leaders.
Make no mistake about it: not only is the program highly engaging but it is also highly intensive; Darden’s first year is like a true boot camp. It throws more work at MBA students than most other schools by far. In contrast to a lecture-based approach to education, Darden class time is spent discussing an array of case studies regarding actual business problems and potential solutions.
In the first three quarters of their first year, all Darden students take the same core curriculum, earning a solid foundation in global business and leadership. Beginning the fourth quarter of the first year and throughout the second year, students can customize their experience by choosing from a wide range of elective courses as they explore new ideas and focus on potential specializations. All full-time MBA students take an internship between the first and second year.
The program is ideal for students who don’t wish to limit themselves to a specific concentration. Unlike finance schools such as Columbia or Wharton, Darden’s curriculum is general management, meaning students can explore different facets of business without being pegged to just one discipline. The integrated curriculum — wherein the same or similar cases are used in several different courses and more than one discipline — illustrates how all areas work together and influence one another.
Darden’s application features a series of short essays related to the School’s core values, including questions related to diversity and inclusion, leadership and collaboration. Uniquely, applicants can choose their preferred essays. In 2020 as the coronavirus disrupted the traditional standardized testing schedule, the Darden School offered increased options announcing plans to accept standardized tests including the GMAT, GRE, MCAT, LSAT and the Executive Assessment.
Outside of the Darden classroom, students have ample opportunities for engagement. Highlights include Global Consulting Projects where small teams of students provide consulting services to an international company while working closely with Darden faculty, Global Immersion Courses described as faculty-led customized courses abroad which immerse students in a particular global market, and Darden Business Projects which are for-credit projects that provide students with the opportunity to gain real-world business experiences with a variety of enterprises.
Darden MBA Employment Stats
MBA Program Consideration Set:
Note: MBA Program Consideration Set: If you believe you’re a close match to this school–based on your GMAT and GPA scores, your age and work experience, you should look at these other competitive full-time MBA programs as well. We list them by stretch, match, and safety. These options are presented on the basis of brand image and ranking status as a general guideline.