We posed questions to admissions officials at the NYU Stern School 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 applicants who stand out are those who know themselves well, and are passionate about their goals and their fit with NYU Stern. These applicants speak from the heart in their essays. After reading thousands of essays, the Admissions Committee can tell the difference between those who are writing what they really want to say, compared to those who are writing what they think we want to hear. As we read, we become as enthusiastic and energized as the applicant about his or her aspirations.
2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
Stern's application essays give applicants the opportunity to more fully present themselves to the Admissions Committee, by providing insight into their experiences, goals, and thought processes. When we read the essays, we look to make sure an applicant has thoroughly thought through their short- and long-term plans for their career. We look for evidence of direction, a well laid-out story and again, passion and a track record of interest in their area. We also want to hear why applicants feel that NYU Stern may be the right M.B.A. program for them; what impact they will have on our community; and that they have done their research on our program and have made wise choices about where they have applied. In addition, we are in the business of educating future business leaders. We want to see a track record of experiences and attributes that signal future leadership, whether that be in their professional or personal lives.
3. How important is the applicant's GMAT score? How do you weight it against undergraduate GPA and work experience? Which of these carry the most weight? The least?
Stern's admissions process is genuinely holistic, and we therefore do not give weight to one individual requirement of the application. In terms of the academic profile, we have many components to evaluate that give us critical information about how an applicant might fare in our academically rigorous program at NYU Stern. In addition to reviewing the GMAT or GRE score, we take into consideration the rigor of the undergraduate major and course work, the reputation of the undergraduate school, trends in grades, overall GPA, as well as any graduate or additional course work completed. All of these components together help the Admissions Committee understand how an applicant will perform academically in the M.B.A.
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?
At Stern, we seek students with a proven professional track record and a high potential for future leadership. We are able to assess these characteristics, in part, by reviewing an applicant's work experience and professional recommendations. The Admissions Committee evaluates work experience not only in terms of number of years, but also in regard to depth and breadth of an individual's experience, specific responsibilities, and progression. On average, Stern students have about four to five years of work experience, and most have between one and 10 years of post-undergraduate work experience. However, full-time work experience is not a prerequisite to apply, and we review all work experience, including internships and part-time work, in our evaluation.
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?
At NYU Stern, we have shaped an environment that nurtures forward-thinking leaders through our commitment to four core values: academic excellence, collaborative community, IQ + EQ, and leveraging the energy of a global hub. Here's what we mean by this: Our students learn from one of the largest and best business faculties in the world, while also benefiting from the vast resources of NYU, a global network university that includes top schools of Law, Public Service, and the Arts. We value both intellectual and interpersonal strengths, which is why we interview every full-time M.B.A. student we admit. We integrate the energy of New York City, as well as hubs around the world, into our culture from day one of Pre-Term Orientation, and offer an abundance of experiential learning opportunities. These include the ability to serve as a Board Member for a nonprofit organization and the opportunity to participate in a mentoring program for students switching careers.
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?
We prefer recommendations from professional environments in which the applicant has worked recently and we require two such letters. A professional recommendation is most valuable to the Admissions Committee when it comes from someone who has worked with the applicant for an extended period of time, and who can describe in detail an applicant's talent, contributions to an organization, and potential as a future business leader. For this reason, we would not recommend that applicants ask anyone who they have not worked with to write on their behalf. We require a current supervisor recommendation (or explanation as to why that cannot be submitted) because we feel a supervisor is best positioned to comment on an applicant's strengths, professional experiences, and potential for leadership.
7. Can you give a brief description of the life cycle of an application? What's the timeline applicants should expect?
NYU Stern has three deadlines but issues notifications on a rolling basis, which makes us unlike some other schools that have a system of rounds. We do provide notification dates based on the deadlines, but they are the latest possible dates that an applicant could hear from us. Applicants often hear from us earlier than the notification deadline, and we do our best to issue notifications as soon as we can.
A Stern full-time M.B.A. applicant receives one of three possible initial notifications by the designated notification date: an invitation to interview, waitlist offer, or denial of admission.
Our interview process is intentionally unique and is designed to help both the Admissions Committee and the applicant assess if Stern is the best fit. Interviews are by invitation only, and the majority of interviews are conducted on campus at Stern by an Admissions Committee member. An interviewer will have thoroughly read an applicant's entire application and will be well versed in his or her background and goals. When completing the interview, applicants can spend the day on campus having lunch with a student and attending a class. After the interview, an applicant can expect to receive a decision within two to three weeks. Post-interview decisions include: an offer of admission, waitlist offer, or denial of admission.
The Admissions Committee begins reviewing the waitlist in the late spring as space in the class becomes available.
8. Which firms recruit heavily from your school? Which firms hire the highest percentage of your graduates?
Stern has a robust on-campus recruiting program for some of the most sought-after post-M.B.A. industries, including Strategy Consulting, Financial Services, and Marketing. Top Stern recruiters in these industries include McKinsey & Company, BCG, Booz & Co, Deloitte, IBM, Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, Barclays, Citi, JPMorgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, American Express, Colgate-Palmolive, and Kraft.
The strong relationship management team in our Office of Career Development, combined with our NYC location, has placed Stern is a unique position to develop recruiting connections in the entertainment, media, luxury, and retail industries. Recruiters in these areas include Disney, HBO, L'Oreal, Coach, Toys "R" Us, Warner Brothers, and Yahoo!.
In 2009, the top three industries hiring Stern students full-time were Investment Banking (32 percent), Consulting (17 percent), and Consumer Products (12 percent). The top three functions were Consulting (18 percent), Marketing (17 percent), and Investment Banking (15 percent).
9. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted?
Common mistakes include essays that don't answer our specific questions or mention another school's name, and careless typos or grammatical errors in any part of the application. We recommend that applicants proofread carefully and allocate enough time for each business school application to ensure that they are putting their best foot forward.
10. Can you describe the archetypal student for your school?
Stern students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and bring diverse experiences to our community, so there is no "typical" student with regard to the application profile. In fact, roughly one third of our students come from more than 50 countries, and we boast one of the highest percentages of women among top business schools. However, Stern students do share certain key characteristics: They are business minded and friendly, personally driven while also intensely collaborative, and exceptionally intelligent yet also down to earth. They are the global business leaders of the future: they have strong technical abilities; can inspire others up, down and across the organization; and they apply a multifaceted approach to problem solving, which is what today's complex world requires.