We posed questions to admissions officials at the Michigan State University Eli Broad College of Business regarding the application process, what they look for in applicants and what sets their school apart. These are their responses:
1. What can applicants do to set themselves apart from their peers?
The Broad Full-Time M.B.A. seeks candidates who can clearly articulate how their past experiences—combined with the degree and the chosen area of study (supply chain, marketing, finance, or human resources)—will fit their future career goals and objectives. Successful applicants design a thoughtful career path that will help them achieve their goals—and obviously, they can talk about how the Broad M.B.A. is a part of that path!
Furthermore, we seek candidates with solid, post-undergraduate work experience. Candidates should be able to demonstrate results and show increase responsibilities over time. Professional experience is important as the Broad M.B.A. requires students to draw upon their experiences both in and out of the classroom. The ability to share examples with classmates and the faculty are important. But equally important is the candidate's ability to draw on experiences to sell themselves to the corporate recruiters who seek our students.
2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
We assess essays for thoughtful responses as well as the candidate's ability to communicate at a graduate student level. Essays also tell help us determine if the candidate is genuine and if the candidate has carefully thought through why the M.B.A. is important to her or his future.
3. How important is the applicant's GMAT score? How do you weigh it against undergraduate GPA and work experience? Which of these carry the most weight? The least?
The Broad M.B.A. uses the results from the GMAT as well as the GPA from the academic record to help predict the academic success of the candidate. Therefore, the GMAT is very important. Work experience is evaluated separately from the GPA and GMAT and does offer a different indicator of success. The detail behind the candidate's past work experience allows us to predict the success of the candidate in the M.B.A. internship and post-M.B.A. job search. The GPA/GMAT and the work experience carry equal weight for an admission decision at Broad.
4. How much does prior work/internship experience weigh into your decision making? What's the typical or expected amount of work experience from an applicant?
Work/internship experience is a very important factor in the admission decision. We seek a minimum of 24 months; successful Broad MBA's have approximately three to four years, at a minimum.
5. What sets you apart from other schools? What can students gain from your school that they might not be able to find anywhere else?
Three things set us apart from other schools: return on investment, community, and career services. Broad M.B.A.'s have a quick payback on their investment when you consider the cost of attending the Broad School with the starting salaries of our graduates. Typically, Broad M.B.A. alumni can recover their M.B.A. investment in a few short years. Secondly, our program is small – about 100 students start with us each year. It's a small program inside a large, research university. This provides our M.B.A.'s the opportunity to build life-long relationships while on a resource-rich and vibrant campus! Finally, our Career Services Center is world-class. The center provides many opportunities for our students to plan, practice, and excel in the job search process. Our M.B.A.-only staff is committed and dedicated to the success of the Broad M.B.A. student.
6. What do you look for in recommendation letters? How important is it that the letter's writer has worked regularly with the candidate in an office or school setting? Do you put much weight on letters from prominent public figures who may not know the applicant well?
Recommendation letters should be professional in nature. They should be from individuals who have been in a position to evaluate [the applicant's] work experience. They should know the applicant's future goals and their strengths and weaknesses. Prominent public figures are respectable references only when the recommender has been in a position or role where she or he directly supervised, managed, and evaluated the applicant's work.