1. Select Your Deadline
At UVA Darden, we offer monthly deadlines - from September through June. Each deadline functions as a discrete round - with a target interview period, decision release date and deposit deadline. All deadlines are focused on our class starting this August.
Which deadline is right for you? Our general advice is to apply as soon as you feel like you can put together a strong application. With each passing deadline, fewer seats in our class will be available, and we will have less scholarship money to award. Most applicants will apply between September and April. However, we have monthly deadlines to provide you maximum flexibility.
2. Review Our Application
Once you have identified your target deadline, we encourage you to review our application. During this first pass, don’t worry about completing anything. Just read. What is required? What information will you need? How much time will it likely take you to complete each of the sections?
Taking 10–15 minutes to review our application as you embark upon this process will help you better plan and strategize.
3. Acquire Your Transcripts
Unofficial transcripts are fine for the purposes of our application process, and we require transcripts for all degree-related coursework. An unofficial transcript is a transcript issued directly to you. It could be in the form of a PDF download or a document you scan and upload to your application. An official transcript is a transcript issued directly from the institution in question to our office.
If you completed your education at a non-English-speaking institution, you will need to make arrangements to have your academic records translated and sent to our office with the official transcript. All translations must be complete and literal versions of the original records.
If you matriculate at Darden, we will require you to submit official transcripts from all degree-granting institutions prior to the start of school. But for now, unofficial copies are just fine.
4. Make Your Test Plans or Submit a Test Waiver
In the Executive MBA application process, we accept several standardized tests - the Executive Assessment (EA), the GMAT, GRE, the MCAT and the LSAT and we view these tests equivalently. We also offer standardized test waivers in select circumstances. Given test center closures due to the current coronavirus pandemic, we have modified our test waiver approach for the remainder of the 2020 cycle. Please see our recent blog post for additional guidance.
We recommend choosing the test that best aligns with your strengths and your application plans. In recent years, the EA has become the most popular test with our applicants, and we hope you will take time to learn more about this test. The EA was designed in consultation with top Executive MBA Programs and with executive format applicants (and their busy schedules in mind), and it requires on average 20 hours of preparation.
Self-reported scores are fine for the purposes of our application process, but you should also arrange for GMAC, ETS or Pearson Vue to send your official score report to the Darden Admissions office.
Remember: Standardized tests are just one piece of information in a much broader, holistic evaluation.
5. Sharpen Your Resume
For most Executive MBA applicants, a two- or three-page resume is sufficient. If you’ve reviewed our application (see Step 2), you know there is an Employment History section, and, in this section, you will provide basic details about your various roles and responsibilities. We encourage you to keep this in mind when crafting your resume. Remember, we will be evaluating your application holistically, so try to think about your application with this lens as you assemble your materials.
Consider using your resume to highlight your leadership and impact. What have you accomplished in your roles? And whenever possible, try to quantify your results.
In addition, a resume is also an opportunity to display your personality and offer insights about your passions and interests. Hobbies, favorite activities, books you’ve read recently, podcasts you’re currently listening to, countries you’ve visited. It’s all fair game. Including a few of these personal details can help us get a more complete picture of you.
6. Identify Your Recommender
We require one (1) recommendation, but we will accept to three (3) recommendations as part of our Executive MBA application process.
Who makes a good recommender? It depends, but we typically suggest someone who knows you well and has supervised you in a professional setting.
Identify a person who will be a strong advocate for you in the process and will help us learn more about your accomplishments and leadership potential. In addition, because you will be working during our program, we typically prefer to hear from your current supervisor. If you choose not to ask your current supervisor to be your recommender, consider including a note about your recommender choice in the Additional Comments section of your application.
Of course, this is general advice, and we defer to you when it comes to actual recommender choice.
When choosing your recommender (and setting your recommender’s expectations), be sure to keep in mind what he/she will be asked to do. Our recommendation process is completely electronic, and your recommender will fill out two pieces of information — a ratings grid in which he/she will evaluate you across a set of competencies and a series of short answer questions. The short answer questions are:
Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization.
How does the performance of the applicant compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles?
Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response.
The recommendation is typically the slowest part of the application process, so identify your recommender well in advance of your target deadline. Make sure he/she understands why you’re pursuing an MBA and why you’re interested in Darden.
We also suggest sharing a copy of your resume with this person so he/she has some perspective on the full arc of your career. And last but not least: Stay in touch. We find that most recommenders are deadline-oriented, so make sure your recommender knows your application timing.
7. Respond to Our Short Answer Questions
For the 2019–20 application cycle, we will again feature multiple short answer questions. Why multiple questions? To allow you a broader platform to showcase your background and personality. These questions are a great opportunity for you to help the Darden Admissions Committee understand who you are and who you will be at Darden.
Remember: We are not reading your responses with a prescribed or “right” answer in mind. We want to get to know you, not us. These questions are our opportunity to begin to get a sense of your voice, your perspective, your experiences and your writing ability. In fact, how you choose to answer a particular question is often as insightful as what you choose to write about. The best essay responses are those that are responsive to the question but also authentic and genuine. Whenever possible, show don’t tell.
8. Complete the Application
Now that you have pulled together your supporting materials, you can focus on filling out your application. This includes everything from providing basic information about you (address, date of birth, contact details, etc.); to detailing your educational and employment history; to uploading your resume, transcripts and test scores; to adding your short answer responses and more.
Once you’ve entered all of this information, take a moment to think about your application holistically. Are there any gaps or ambiguities in the information provided? Consider using the Additional Comments section of your application to provide additional context, if necessary. The Additional Comments section is not an additional essay, just a place to connect the dots.
Our advice is to be brief, make your point and provide action items if appropriate. Be mindful that we are reading many, many applications, so anything you choose to share should be valuable to both you and potentially our Admissions Committee.
When you start your application, you will make two choices that are very important. From the first dropdown menu, you will select your application type: MBA (i.e., Full-Time MBA) or Executive (i.e., Executive MBA). Once you’ve made this choice, from the second dropdown menu, you will select your target deadline (2020 MBA Early Action, 2020 MBA Round 1, etc.). Please make sure you select the application type that corresponds to your program interest.
9. Company Support Letter
The company support letter is NOT an admissions requirement. It is a pre-matriculation requirement.
While we make it possible for you to include your company support letter with your materials at the time of applying, you are welcome to wait to submit this document after you receive a decision.
At minimum, the letter should:
Indicate that the company is aware of your interest in applying to the program. The letter may also speak to the company’s belief in your strength as a high potential manager.
Acknowledge the time commitment required to attend the required residencies.
If applicable, indicate the level of financial support your employer will provide.
This letter must be submitted on company letterhead with an original signature from your supervisor. The letter may be scanned and uploaded to your application as a PDF. View a sample company support letter.
If you are self-employed, please submit a letter acknowledging the schedule requirements of Darden's executive MBA format, noting that you have the time and resources necessary to complete the program.
10. Pay the Application Fee
A nonrefundable application fee of $250 is required to process your application. However, we do offer fee waivers in select circumstances.
All Executive MBA class visitors receive an Executive MBA application fee waiver. Schedule a class visit. If you’ve started an application, once you participate in your visit, a fee waiver code will be added to your application.
NOTE: We have currently paused our class visit program due to the coronavirus pandemic, but we are pleased to offer a new fee waiver opportunity for Executive MBA applicants.
This fee waiver offer will be available through the remainder of our 2020 cycle, even if our class visit program resumes before our final deadline. Here’s how you qualify for a fee waiver. It’s as easy as 1, 2:
1. Connect. Participate in a phone conversation with a member of our Executive MBA Admissions Committee OR attend an Executive MBA Virtual Coffee Chat; AND
2. Join. Attend one of our upcoming webinars. We have an exciting slate of webinars on deck, including career-related sessions, application tips, a program overview, student life highlights and more. We look forward to seeing you online!
In addition, The following are eligible for application fee waivers:
- Teach for America corps members and alumni (Code: 10029)
- Peace Corps volunteers (Code: 10039)
- Education Pioneers fellows (Code: 10049)
- Forté MBALaunch members (Code: 10059)
- Current undergraduate students (Code: 10069)
- U.S. military members (Code: 10019)
- African citizens living in Africa (Code: 10089)
- Citizens of countries on the UN's list of least developed countries also qualify for an application fee waiver (Code: 10089)
If you qualify for a waiver, please use the appropriate code when prompted in the application. If you have further questions, please email us at [email protected]
11. Interview Invitation
As noted above, interviews are offered by invitation only. Qualified applicants will be invited to interview after their application has been reviewed by the Admissions Committee. Interviews play a critical role in our assessment of candidates and are required prior to acceptance into the program.
All interviews are conducted by a members of the Admissions Committee. Candidates are offered a range of interview options including in-person — on the Darden Grounds or in the Washington, D.C. area — or via Skype. We offer these options as a convenience to you, and we encourage you to choose the option that works best with your schedule.
Our interviews are conversational in nature and typically last around 35-40 minutes. Applicants should be prepared to share their narrative during the interview, and key questions include:
- What's your educational background?
- What's your professional background?
- Why are you interested in pursuing an MBA?
- Why are you interested in Darden?
- What are your goals post-MBA?
Other relevant topics include leadership experience, global exposure as well as hobbies and interests.