Full-Time MBA

Virtual Events
Diversity Events

Live Chat with Admissions

We invite you to join an invitation-only live chat with Full-Time MBA Admissions. Directors can answer your questions about the 2016-17 essay question and format, provide insight into the application and evaluation process, the admissions interview, and more. Don’t miss this opportunity to chat directly with the Booth Admissions Committee to better serve your clients.

Chat Transcript Highlights

Guest Question: A client of mine wants to know how seriously Booth considers applicants applying with experience in the social sector and hoping to work in social enterprise. The client has been reading a lot from Booth stating the high emphasis given to this- but wants to know if it is genuine. In other words, is emphasizing a social enterprise that they started truly helpful? And kind of as a way to get a sense of this, they'd like to know what % of Booth's Full Time MBA admits come from this background and what % work in social impact post MBA?
* Michelle Moore: We take all applicants from all backgrounds seriously. It is helpful for us to know as much as possible about their experience, especially if they have been involved in a startup. We continue to see many applicants coming from the social sector. You are welcome to check out the link to the employment report in the web links box below.

Guest Question: Thanks so much! I would love to understand your reading process, if you could touch upon that. Also, how has your student population shifted over the last few years? Are there any trends that have surprised (or not surprised) you?
* Donna Swinford: Happy to be here today answering everyone's questions! Our reading process is holistic. All staff members in our office read applications. We read applications once they are complete, and will extend invitations to interview. Once the interview takes place, we then read the application again. Each application is read a minimum three times, even those not invited. The student population continues to show diverse interests, a lot of interest in tech and entrepreneurship.

Guest Question: For an international student, specially, possible for you to elaborate a bit on the term “resonate”? Students could interpret that in many ways…
* Colin Davis: thanks for your question. By "resonate" we're asking applicants to identify a moment that they feel personally connected to. How and why they feel connected to the moment is entirely up to the applicant. The applicant should be able to connect their story (and how it might play out at Booth) to particular meaning or importance of the selected moment. I hope that helps.

Guest Question: Another question about your reading process:  do you read applications using industry categories?  Any sort of categories?

* Michelle Moore: We randomly split up applications amongst our staff and do not divide out into any particular categories.

Guest Question: How do you evaluate candidate's test scores? Are you taking the highest parts of verbal and quant or is it the best overall score?  Additionally, how do you view candidates taking the GRE rather than the GMAT?

* Donna Swinford: When we evaluate test scores we look at the quant and verbal scores as well as the overall total. The GRE or the GMAT score can show if the candidate will be able to handle to coursework. There are many other places within the application for us to see academic potential: Prior academic history, work experience, recommendations, etc. We do not have a preference of one score or the other. We do use the ETS conversation tool.

Guest Question: One question I have about the essay - is it okay for applicants to do some background research about the pictures and bring that into their response? Last year I had a couple of candidates who were confused about that.

* Colin Davis: Thanks for your question. While it is not mandatory to conduct background research on the ten Booth Moments, applicants can certainly feel free to do so.

Guest Question: How might the reading process vary for military applicants, or other non-traditionals?  Do you have someone with military experience doing the reading? Thanks.

* Donna Swinford: For our many military applications we have experienced readers who are familiar with military terminology. Our armed forces student group is very active and we have veterans who are part of our student admissions fellows team. They serve as resources for our staff readers if we encounter something we have not seen.

Guest Question: Hi, Thanks so much for organizing this chat. Do you have a preference between first and second round. Also what's your policy regarding re-applicants (do you encourage, discourage re-applicants? Are you neutral?)

* Michelle Moore: We encourage applicants to apply in the round that they feel their application will be strongest. Having said that, round 2 typically is the largest round, which is true among most schools. We are fortunate to receive many qualified applicants each year, but do not have enough room in the class for everyone. We often admit reapplicants, and strongly encourage people to reapply. We provide an essay for this group for them to talk about what has changed since their last application, which is a great way for them to reflect on their growth as a candidate.

Guest Question: How has the entrepreneurship program changed (or not) since the departure of the former director of entrepreneurship to Kellogg?

* Donna Swinford: Entrepreneurship continues to be the #1 concentration at Booth!  We recently received a new grant from Michael Polsky to expand entrepreneurial resources in venture creation/education, technology commercialization, and business incubation. This gift will also allow for new programs, fellowships, and support for alumni entrepreneurs.

Guest Question: Can you tell us about the interview process?  Options, like on-campus (with ad com member? or 2nd year student?), off-campus (with ad com member? or alumni?).  What is a typical interview length and format?

* Kim Masessa: Thanks for joining us today! As you know, an interview will be granted on an invitation-only basis after evaluation of a submitted application. A candidate who receives an invitation will have only one interview. Our interviews are conducted on-campus or off-campus, depending on the candidate’s location and availability.  For on-campus interviews, they are with a second-year student, who is an Admissions Fellow and for off-campus interviews, they are conducted with alum from the program.

Guest Question: Booth used to suggest 4 PPT slides for its presentation. Would you say that this is still the ideal length?

* Colin Davis: thanks for your question. It is difficult for us to specify an arbitrary length for an applicant; we've seen impactful responses that are well beyond 4 slides and we've seen impactful responses that are only a single slide. Therefore, we leave it up to the applicant to determine what length is most appropriate for them. We anticipate that might be different for each individual.

Guest Question: How do admissions define leadership? That is, what kinds of qualities are you looking for?

* Michelle Moore: We look closely at their extracurricular activities to see what range of involvement they have had, if they've been in leadership activities, etc. We also look at their work experience, what roles they've had in those organizations and how they've impacted their companies. The letters of recommendation are also a good place for us to learn about their leadership history.

 Guest Question: Thanks for hosting this chat! As you can imagine, it is invaluable to us to gain more insight into the application process, so that we can help our clients put forth the best possible application (and hopefully send super qualified candidates your way!). What have you seen as the biggest mistakes, and also the biggest successes, applicants have made during the application process in the 2015-2016 rounds?

* Michelle Moore: The biggest mistake is when an applicant tells us what they think we want to hear, and we don't get a true sense of who they are outside of work and academics. The successful applicants are able to showcase their career trajectory, who they are and what they are passionate about. They know why they want an MBA, why it's important at this point in their life, and why Booth is the place they want to be.

 Guest Question: Are you looking to attract more students from any particular industries or backgrounds?

* Donna Swinford: We want to attract the best candidates regardless of industry or background.

 Guest Question: For applicants with the right credentials and scores, what is the number one mistake they make?

* Michelle Moore: Not knowing why they want an MBA, why now at this point in their life and why they want to be at Booth.

 Guest Question: With your new essay question this year, what are you hoping that candidates will share with you?

* Michelle Moore: We are looking for candidates to bring a new element about them into the essay, something that they haven’t already shared in other sections of the application. We want to get a better feel for the unique connection and impact they can bring to the Booth community, as well as Booth’s impact on their life and future goals

 Guest Question: My question, to the extent you can share with us, is how did your applicants do last year with the photos? Any feedback we can hear about the experience on your side in reading them? Dos and don'ts?

* Michelle Moore: We had a lot of fun reading the essays; it was interesting to see how people interpreted various aspects of the Booth community. Kurt wrote a great blog after round 1 last year regarding how applicants approached the essay: http://tinyurl.com/harombk

 Guest Question: How important in the evaluation of an application is a candidates' interaction with the school (i.e. attending an off-campus event, scheduling a campus visit, interaction with alumni, on-campus vs. off-campus interviews, etc.)?

* Colin Davis: thanks for your question. Interacting with schools can certainly be valuable, but not necessarily from a valuation standpoint. The larger goal should be to use any interactions to learn more about the culture/resources and whether that program is ultimately the right place for the applicant. We're more focused on how well the applicant knows and understands their fit with Booth, rather than if they've attended certain events.

 Guest Question: I'm wondering if you could discuss your approach to military/veteran applicants.  Are there certain types of experiences/backgrounds you value over others and what percentage of your class each year typically comes from a military background?

* Donna Swinford: We don't approach military/veteran applicants differently than those with other backgrounds. We look for potential. Approximately 4 to 5% of the class are US veterans.

 Guest Question: How important is it to visit the campus? Especially for international students? Do you view this step as a strong intent to apply to Booth/Booth as their top choice?

* Kim Masessa: Thanks for joining us today!  We understand that not everyone, especially international prospects have the opportunity to visit campus.  We think it’s more important for the prospect’s to visit campus for them to evaluate the program and get a sense of the community!

 Guest Question: How long are previous applications kept on file for someone to be considered a reapplicant?

* Colin Davis: thanks for your question. A reapplicant file is kept for two years.

 Guest Question: could you speak to the new essay? Is there something specific you're looking for and any other helpful insight on how to approach the question?

* Michelle Moore: At the end of the day, we are looking for applicants to bring a new element about themselves into the essay, something they haven’t already shared in other sections of the application. We want to get a better feel for the unique connection and impact they can bring to the Booth community, as well as Booth’s impact on their life and future goals

 Guest Question: Following up on the question about interviews. Are interviews typically blind? or do interviewers have access to the application beforehand?

* Kim Masessa: thanks for your question!  Interviewers are given the candidate's resume prior to the interview, but do not have access to the entire application.

 Guest Question: What made you shift back to allowing an essay-style response to the essay question versus PowerPoint? How long do you spend on a first read of the application?

* Michelle Moore: When we had the slide presentation only, many applicants were filling in the 4-slide maximum with text. So, it made sense for us to open the format to either slides or essay-style/word document to allow them to express themselves in the best way they could.

 Guest Question: Are there any job functions/industries under-represented in the application pool? Is there a candidate profile that Booth would like to see more of in the coming years?

* Michelle Moore: We aren’t looking for a specific profile. The pool changes a little bit each year. Like many business schools, we see a lot of applicants from finance and consulting backgrounds, but as you can imagine, the non-traditional backgrounds such as entrepreneurship, social impact, education, healthcare etc. continue to be on the rise.

 Guest Question: Not sure if I am submitting my question properly...sorry! Question: Good morning and thank you for hosting this Q & A!  Do you have a preferred list of quant classes a prospective applicant should take to demonstrate his/her quantitative abilities if the transcript and quant subscore on the GMAT do not demonstrate their true abilities?

* Michelle Moore: We do not have a "preferred" list of courses, but the applicant can take a few classes in the areas of stats, econ, accounting, etc. to help offset their score or lack of academic background.

 Guest Question: What is in the special sauce that would define a Booth candidate?

* Kim Masessa: There are a lot of great business schools and networks out there, but what separates Booth from the broader landscape is our distinctive and unique set of values - The Chicago Approach really embodies how our community thinks about and connects with the world. Our discipline-based approach to academics draws applicants that are intellectually curious and comfortable asking questions of the world around them. We appreciate individuality and respect the diverse experiences, perspectives, and goals each student brings into program; the flexibility of our curriculum allows every student to be fully engaged in their learning process and development. Lastly, our supportive community attracts applicants looking to follow their passions, take risks, and step beyond their comfort zones, all while building a lifelong network.

 Guest Question: In terms of this year's essays, I see that you've gone with the "choose a photo" format again. Even though the prompt itself is different, would you please share some insight into what made last year's submissions strongest in your minds? 

* Michelle Moore: The visuals really anchor on the individuality of each applicant, how they connect with a specific moment, and why they want to be part of the Booth community. We’ve been really impressed and have seen applicants take a very personal approach with their chosen image, as well as give profound reasons for wanting to be a part of this community. We were pleasantly surprised to see that image selection results were as diverse as our applicants.

 Guest Question: Do you see a lot of applicants using other formats other than writing a traditional essay?

* Kim Masessa: Thanks for joining us today.  We actually see candidates using PowerPoint and creative writing styles to answer our essay question.

 Guest Question: With respect to international students, does Booth have specific quotas/targets in terms of the number of applicants they aim to admit from various regions worldwide?

* Michelle Moore: We do not have an outline of who we want to admit from various industries or regions of the world. Every year our application pool changes; we are looking for the talent that floats to the top in terms of a mix of academics, experience, and intellectual curiosity.

 Guest Question: Can you speak to how much emphasis you put on short and long term goals?  At last week's AIGAC conference several other programs noted that their analysis that only 10-15% of graduating students ended up pursing the career they had presented in their application.

* Colin Davis: That's a trend we also see here at Booth, in terms of many students pursuing careers other than what was initially outlined in their application. Knowing that, it's still important for an applicant to be clear on his or her short and long term goals. This ultimately helps the applicant to think deeply about how they will maximize their two year experience, and what they want to get out of an MBA, specifically one at Booth.

 Guest Question: How does Booth view number of years of work experience? Would someone with more substantial work experience (say 8 years) still be viewed favorably in the applicant pool at Booth?

* Kim Masessa: thanks for joining us today! On average, Full-Time Booth students have about 5 years work experience.  We honestly view applicants on a holistic basis, so we would consider their years of experience, in addition to all the other aspects of the application. 

 Guest Question: Piggybacking on the question about GMAT...how are you looking at AWA and IR now that it has been in place for several years?  Do they play as big a part in the evaluation as V and Q? Applicants are asked to report one score, but would you consider the others to help them mitigate any concerns?  For example, let's say an applicant received a high overall score out of 800, but their IR score was low.  Then later, they received a lower overall score out of 800, but their IR score was higher.  I assume they should report the first (higher) overall test score...but could they use the optional essay to point out that IR shouldn't be a concern because of the second test?

* Michelle Moore: For us, it's very simple. I wouldn't over think it. We certainly consider AWA and IR, especially if it is very low. We ask applicants to self-report, which should be their highest scores.

 Guest Question: Apart from Admissions events and reaching out to alumni and current students, what are some other ways that applicants can better understand Booth and its learning environment?

* Kim Masessa: In addition to admissions events and reaching out to alumni and current students, we suggest attending our global events, which include Chicago Conversations, Economic Outlook, The Global Leadership Series, etc.  More information on these events can be found at the following URL: https://www.chicagobooth.edu/about/global-events  https://www.chicagobooth.edu/about/global-events

 Guest Question: Hi Donna, in reference to Emily's question, can you talk more about what "potential" means?

* Donna Swinford: I think potential has a different meaning for each person. Based on the applicant's background, how have they been doing professionally?  What is their background shows potential? Leadership, collaboration, self-awareness, recommendations? What do they want to do? This is why our application process has to be holistic.

 Guest Question: What do you consider to be most valuable for Booth community: proven leadership record or scale of professional projects? Thank you.

* Michelle Moore: Both are incredibly valuable. Some students possess both of these; others may possess one of them. Leadership comes in many different forms, as does experience. The beauty of the Booth community is that everyone has a unique background and set of experiences/future goals. They can bring this to Booth and continue to push themselves outside their comfort zones.

 Guest Question: Thanks a lot for hosting this event. What are your plans for visiting international locations this year (in particular Colombia)' Several of my clients felt a bit disappointed last year since they had no opportunity of talking to Booth's Admissions Representative. Will the school be hosting an event or will you be traveling as part of admissions fair?

* Kim Masessa: Thanks for joining us today and for your question! We are visiting many international and domestic locations in the upcoming weeks and months through information sessions, MBA Tours and Forte Forums.  All events are posted (and will continue to be posted at the following URL: https://www.chicagobooth.edu/programs/full-time/admissions/events

 Guest Question: Question: Have you ever admitted an applicant who graduated from an online degree program?

* Colin Davis: We've certainly had students who have completed supplemental degrees from online programs. Our only requirement is that the degree be from an accredited program. We don't necessarily track whether it is online or not.

 Guest Question: How are fellowships and other forms of financial aid rewarded?

* Donna Swinford: Our scholarships are 100% merit-based and there is no formal application process. We use the full-time application to determine if you qualify for an award by looking at each candidate’s overall qualities: academic profile, intended concentration, strength of overall application, letters of recommendation, interview and competitiveness in overall pool

 Guest Question: What do you think sets Booth apart from your competitors? How can we help our clients differentiate between schools/programs?

* Donna Swinford: We have a set of core values that differentiate us from our peers defined as The Chicago Approach. These values are: 1.Our discipline-based approach to academics (We believe that markets and organizations are connected on the principles of economics, accounting, statistics and the social sciences) 2.Respect for individuality (everyone has a unique background, varying perspectives and ideas, and on the community as a whole, and it’s that diversity that makes this place so strong) and

3.Booth’s community of support. It’s a place that embraces a pay-it-forward mentality where people invest in each other, and are each other’s best resources 

 Guest Question: Thank you again for having this insightful chat!  Among peer schools that have a business school within a greater university such as Booth, what would you say are some of Booth’s unique opportunities for the full-time MBA students to interact with the greater university?

* Kim Masessa: Thanks for joining us today.  Chicago Booth is part of one of the greatest research institutions in the world - the University of Chicago. Through our joint degree programs and flexible curriculum, candidates can increase the value of their MBA by combining it with additional classes or an additional degree from one of the University's other world-renowned programs.

 Guest Question: What advice would you have for candidates as they agonize over the selection of recommenders?

* Michelle Moore: We require two letters, one of which we'd like to be from a current supervisor. Many applicants cannot let their supervisors know, which is ok with us. They can use past supervisors and just explain this in the space provided, or in the optional essay. If they aren't reporting to a supervisor because they run their own company/startup, clients or vendors are good options to provide recommendations. We tell them to choose recommenders that can speak to a different aspect of their candidacy that we cannot get from the rest of the application.

 Guest Question: How can candidates show evidence of intellectual curiosity?

* Michelle Moore: We pride ourselves on building a diverse community. When an applicant can showcase who they are outside of work and academics, it helps us understand more about how they plan to impact the Booth community.

 Guest Question: Can you talk a little bit about the reasoning for having this chat with admissions consultants?

* Kim Masessa: We continue to see more and more of our students use consultants and we wanted to simply give this group of people an opportunity to get to know Booth a little better. The packets contain a lot of information someone could find on our website, but condensed and simple to reference.

 Guest Question: What has changed regarding Booth's admissions process this year versus last year?

* Michelle Moore: We have been really happy with how our process has been working; therefore, don't plan to make any big changes. The essay is the primary change we make year to year.

 Guest Question: What are your current dean's strategic priorities for Booth over the next several years?

* Kelsey Bergren: Hi Katherine, thanks for your question. Our leadership has focused on broadening and strengthening our intellectual footprint, and recruiting and expanding faculty with expertise in diverse areas ranging from marketing to operations management.  We have also increased support for students in realizing their broader aspirations by expanding scholarships and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, as well as the Social Enterprise Initiative and the Harry L. Davis Center for Leadership. Leadership will continue to enhance the schools global presence, building on successful move of the Executive MBA Program Asia to Hong Kong. Booth also continues to strengthen ties with alumni, offering additional ways for alumni to connect with one another and remain engaged with Booth.