Cornell University’s Johnson School of Business takes pride in disproving the stereotype of business school as a cold and cut-throat place. Johnson students work hard, but they also develop and maintain genuinely warm peer groups. This supportive culture, combined with an Ithaca location, makes Johnson especially appealing for MBA students with families.

Johnson is noted for producing business leaders who can anticipate trends and lead companies in times of change. The school’s own commitment to keeping pace with business and student needs has resulted in innovations such as the Accelerated MBA (AMBA), which allows scientists and engineers with advanced degrees to earn an MBA in a year.

Quality education and a welcoming environment are part of the reason that applications to Johnson have increased while volume is declining elsewhere.

Below is a 2008 interview with Laurie Shunney, Assistant Director of Admissions and Financial Aid.

Though it is still early in the admissions season, what was the volume for Round 1 applications this year? What words of advice would you give for those who will be interviewing in the next coming weeks?

The volume of applications during round one increased about 10% from last year.

In terms of interviewing tips, I would highlight the importance of preparing before the interview. Prospective students can improve their experience by researching dynamics at Johnson (including our curriculum and the community atmosphere) and also considering how our program fits their goals. Clarity regarding career goals and past experience will allow students to approach our conversation with confidence and authenticity.

How was the 2007-2008 admissions season for the Johnson School?

The last admissions season was very successful for us. Applications increased, we increased selectivity, and we also admitted the highest percentage of women (39%). We already received very positive feedback from faculty members and recruiters about the most recent class.

Describe how an application moves through the process. Does this indicate an emphasis on good career mapping?

All applications receive at least two reviews. A member of the admissions staff or a trained second-year student initially reviews the application for the opportunity to interview. We look for a variety of factors including academic indicators, career experience, goals, teamwork, and service orientation. A member of the admissions committee will also review the application regarding the decision to interview.

When applicants receive an invitation to interview, they may complete the interview on campus with admissions staff members, trained second-year students in the Johnson School Admissions Group, or local alumni. Interviews allow us to explore specific areas in further detail and assess personal presence.

After applicants complete interviews, the admissions committee will review all aspects of student files for a final decision.

What percentage of applicants is accepted into each program?

During the 2007-2008 admissions season, we accepted 19% of applicants for the Two-Year MBA program and 49% of applicants for the Accelerated MBA program.

Do the Executive MBA and Full-Time MBA confer the same degrees?

Students in the residential MBA programs and the Executive MBA programs receive the same Johnson School MBA.

What percentage of students is accepted from the undergraduate class? Are there certain conditions? Do you favor such applicants?

This year, thirty-five students (13%) entering the Two-Year MBA program received undergraduate degrees from Cornell and thirteen students entering the Accelerated MBA received graduate or undergraduate degrees from Cornell . Some Cornell students returned to the Johnson School after working for a few years and others applied for the program without completing a full year of work experience. We value Cornell degrees due to the rigor of programs and exposure to the Cornell culture.

What percentage of international students is admitted into your full-time MBA program? Is there any type of cap? Are they held to different standards?

In general, about twenty-five percent of the students in the Two-Year program are international students. We assess English language skills for international students. In some cases, we require attendance at Cornell’s summer language program.

What do you consider most important part of the application process?

Fit and authenticity are very important aspects of the selection process at the Johnson School. With a small class of about 270 students, we strive to select students who will thrive in our close, collaborative community and bring unique perspectives to classroom discussions.

How do you see the MBA program at The Johnson School evolving, especially in light of current financial trends?

The Johnson School will continue providing performance learning opportunities and preparing students for internships and placements. Some faculty members already revised their curricula to address market conditions and recent panels provided opportunities for discussions about financial trends. We also continue leveraging our alumni network by providing students with valuable connections in the field as the market presents challenges.

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