We posed questions to admissions officials at the University of South Carolina Darla Moore 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 Moore School values diverse professional experience as well as exposure to global cultures and languages. Strong candidates have a strong interest in experiencing global business.
2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
We look at the applicant's objectives and motives to pursue an International M.B.A. It is important for us to find candidates that understand the implications and advantages of a degree with such a global focus. We look for candidates that are ready to be immersed in different cultures and business challenges.
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?
We look at all factors of the application with no specific preference. Each metric helps us understand different aspects of the applicant's potential to succeed in the program and in his or her professional career as alum. Another important factor we value is the admissions interview.
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?
A candidate's work experience is evaluated, as it is often a valid predictor of not only a candidate's academic success in the program, but also his or her success from a career management perspective. Therefore, while work experience is not a requirement, it is strongly encouraged that candidates have at least two or more years of full-time, post-bachelor, professional work experience. Should a candidate with fewer than two years of work experience seek enrollment, it is encouraged that the candidate highlight leadership experience, as well as any part-time, volunteer, or other academic-related work experience (internship, co-op, etc.) in the application.
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?
We place a huge emphasis on all things international with regard to the student experience. We have been a leader in the area of international business education for decades by setting the example in the areas of advising, internships, career management, and alumni relations.
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 accept either professional or academic letters of recommendation; however, it is encouraged that candidates submit professional letters of reference where possible. We suggest letters are written by a person that works regularly with the candidate, as it is important for us to evaluate the candidate's ability to work and interact in a professional or academic setting.
7. Can you give a brief description of the life cycle of an application? What's the timeline applicants should expect?
Our first application deadline is November 15 with several application deadline rounds following until May. Application review is done on a rolling basis and applicants are generally notified within two to four weeks if they have been selected for an interview. Once the interview is complete, a decision usually takes about a week.
8. Which firms recruit heavily from your school? Which firms hire the highest percentage of your graduates?
Our student population is as diverse in their backgrounds as they are in their individual career goals. For this reason, the school's Office of Career Management casts a wide net to ensure a cross-section of recruiters from various industries and sectors. Many of our students do, however, secure employment within the manufacturing, energy and financial sectors. Our anchor employers include Eaton Corporation, Bank of America, ExxonMobil, Shell Oil, Ingersoll Rand, and Wells Fargo. We are also seeing a growing numbers of students interested in careers with government and non-profit agencies. We are thrilled by the growing interest as it is an important sector that maps to the Moore School's sustainable enterprise and development strategic initiatives.
9. What are some of the most common mistakes that applicants make that hurt their chances of being accepted?
Oftentimes, applicants don't take the interview seriously enough and are not prepared. We are looking for engaged and mature students who will represent the global business stature of the Moore School.
10. Can you describe the archetypal student for your school?
International M.B.A. candidates are, in general, professionals with an average of four years of work experience. Their backgrounds include business and operations; government and military; NGO's; education; or an array of other disciplines. Their undergraduate degree is in business, engineering, social sciences, or other disciplines. Students have a keen interest in an M.B.A. with a strong international focus and the opportunity to experience firsthand global business settings in the classroom as well as through country immersion.