How to Get In: University of Florida Hough Graduate School of Business

What can you do to set yourself apart in your application? Admissions officials have the answers.

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We posed questions to admissions officials at the University of Florida Hough Graduate 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?

We look for students who have excelled in their chosen fields and areas of expertise. Our students come from a variety of backgrounds, have diverse skills and experiences, and each one brings a unique viewpoint into the classroom. Applicants should share their accomplishments and show how they will bring value to the classroom as a student and to the program as a future alumnus. At the Hough Graduate School of Business, we feel this adds to a richer, more in-depth classroom experience when discussions cover business issues from the point of view of a Fortune 500 company to a successful entrepreneur—all of whom are sitting in the classroom.

2. What do you look for in the application essays? What do the essays tell you about a candidate?

The essays are the best way to provide unique insights into your personality and character. Let us get to know you: where you have been, where you are now, where you want to go, and how an M.B.A. is going to help you get there. Show us your focus and determination. How do you define excellence? Why should we admit you to the program?

We find that our more experienced students are more open, relaxed, and confident in how they present themselves, which is exactly what we are looking for in the essays. When applicants try too hard to fit the mold of an "ideal" applicant or mirror their essays to ones they have seen in "How to Get into M.B.A. School" books, they come across formulaic and boring. Tell us your story, dreams, and goals.

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?

An applicant's GMAT score is an important component in what we evaluate. It shows us that applicants are ready, willing, and able to succeed in a rigorous academic environment.

There are three key components we look for in all applicants: GMAT, undergraduate performance, and work experience. We weigh all of them equally. Think of it as a three-leg stool: You need to have achieved a certain level in each area to be competitive. If a candidate is weak in one area, a strength in another can help offset to a point, but applicants must meet a certain threshold in all three to be admitted.

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?

As mentioned earlier, it is a key component to our program. We require a minimum of two years for any of our programs and eight years for our Executive program. For our full-time programs the average is four years, and in our part-time programs the average is seven. Quality of experience is key as well. What has the applicant accomplished? Is the applicant going above and beyond in their current role? How is the applicant adding to the company's bottom line with their unique skills and abilities?

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?

Top-tier faculty, nationally and internationally ranked programs, high-quality students and a vast alumni network at an affordable cost—The Hough Graduate School of Business combines all of these to provide a great value to its students, offering students the quickest return on investment (ROI) of any top 50 program. In June 2010, we are adding to that value with a brand-new graduate school building, Hough Hall. This 70,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility was made possible because of the generosity of 1948 UF M.B.A. graduate William R. Hough. The Hough Graduate School of Business also offers a unique student experience from small, selective class sizes in the M.B.A. program to national championship sports teams.