We posed questions to admissions officials at the Syracuse University Martin J. Whitman School of Management 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 students that make up the Whitman School graduate student population are comprised of individuals that, among other things, have developed well-rounded portfolios and demonstrated leadership. A successful candidate for our graduate programs should, through their application, demonstrate academic prowess, professional initiative, and a strong illustration of leadership in action. In addition, individuals that have participated in the development of community through volunteerism, active participation in professional and personal organizations, and an overall zeal for continuous growth constructs an impressive application.
2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?
Essays on the Whitman School application are designed to challenge the applicant to portray in many ways how they work through professional situations, exemplify their problem-solving skills, and use sound judgment and critical reasoning to solve complex issues. Moreover, we look for the applicant to clearly identify to us how they use these skills, where shortfalls may have been, and how they have used their experiences moving forward.
Essays are designed to communicate to the committee aspects of the individual's written expression, critical reasoning, communication skills, business acumen and leadership capabilities, and overall ability in working with others to maintain the integrity of a specific project. Lastly, this is one of the first forms of writing we have of an applicant. Solid construction of these answers is also anticipated by the admissions committee.
3. How important is the applicant's GMAT score? How do you weigh it against undergraduate GPA and work/internship experience? Which of these carry the most weight? The least?
The GMAT exam is a critical component to the full-time M.B.A. application. The GMAT is designed to provide the admissions committee with information regarding a person's logic, reasoning and data analysis skills to name a few. These pieces of information are critical in identifying one's ability to work through ambiguous case studies, complex consulting projects, and other various measures found in the M.B.A. curriculum. Important to note, however, is that the committee uses the GMAT as one measure. The overall quality of an application means that when the score is coupled with other items such as work experience, there may be a case for forgone performance on the GMAT. Certain on-the-job skills have proven to be a large asset to the classroom as well, and can hold weight on the committee's forecast of a student's success in the program.
Students without years of work experience need to demonstrate by virtue of their undergraduate GPA that they have the quantitative ability, motivation/work ethic, and drive to complete the rigors of graduate school.
For those with little to no work experience, two factors of an application that will hold the highest weight will be the GMAT exam score and overall GPA. While still critical components to the application, these items will hold smaller percentiles for those possessing years of professional and relevant work experience.
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?
Prior work/internship experience is a consideration in our decision making, but we do consider students with less experience who have evidence of strong leadership in their undergraduate program. The typical Whitman M.B.A. student has less than five years of experience. We are able to enhance students' real world experience through our unique experiential learning program where students build an experiential portfolio through internships, consulting, specialized courses, community engagement, and other practical experiences. Students complete six to nine approved experiential elective credits through at least two distinct experiences.