Tepper MBA Admissions Interview (cont’d)

Our MBA Tracks take this basic concept of cross-campus opportunities much further.  Our dean is really interested in providing ways for students to go outside the walls of the business school to develop an area of focus or expertise if they would like to.  This happens through a Track — an integrated sequence courses that include several outside the business school in other Carnegie Mellon departments.  For example, our Integrated Product Development (IPD) Track exposes students to courses in Design, Engineering and Business.  Students in the IPD Track take classes and complete company-sponsored projects while working with students from these other departments.  A track is typically eight to ten courses (out of 32 required to earn the MBA degree) — and we offer Tracks in many different areas.  In addition to General Management (our core MBA) and IPD, the Tracks available are Biotechnology, Computational Marketing, International Management, Operations Management, Operations Research, Wealth and Asset Management, Entrepreneurship and E-Business Technologies.

What general advice would you like applicants considering the Tepper MBA to know?

When you consider an MBA degree, think about your goals for the future and develop a list of schools that provide a curriculum specific to the areas that interest you.  At Carnegie Mellon, we are encouraging students to learn about us, starting with our Web site which is kept current and has lots of good information about our program and ways to connect with the community.  Our on-line community for prospective students provides journals of current students, the opportunity to ask questions, and have live chats and even search for a student with a similar background or career goals and connect with them.  We realize that a lot of students can’t visit our campus so we try to put as much on line as we can.  So getting to know us is a big part of being prepared for the whole admissions process.

When do you encourage applicants to apply to the program?

We have four application deadlines.  The earliest one is in November and the final one is end of April or early May.  I recommend that applicants apply as early as their application is ready without rushing the process. I encourage them not to rush the process and to spend more time on their essays as we are looking for a stronger candidate.  When we look at our admissions profile throughout the four deadlines, the quality of the application is more important in the process rather than the time we received it.  The down side about applying later is that we have a number of activities and opportunities for applicants.  For example we have “Welcome Weekend” and invitations to alumni meetings and other networking events and if someone applies later, they are not able to take advantage of everything that we offer.

What are the specific characteristics that you target in the applications to help you identify the “best fit” candidates?

There are four areas we think about when we evaluate all the components of the application.  The first is the potential for success academically in our MBA program.  We look at their past academic experiences and test scores. One thing that underlies our review is potential for the quantitative or analytical education we offer.  The second major factor is potential for professional success.  We look at what a candidate has done so far, their growth and responsibilities over time, and the kind of contributions they have made.  We are looking for people who have made an impact in their working life.  The third group of considerations is a whole range of personal qualities starting with team work skills, leadership skills, communication skills and work ethic.  We are looking for the kind of students everybody loves to work with.  We want people who thrive in that kind of collaborative atmosphere.  Finally, we have to determine if the Tepper MBA is the right step for a candidate right now.

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