Frequently Asked Questions

Admissions

EMBA - Admissions FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Due to the recent test center closures related to the novel coronavirus, we have modified our application process for the remainder of our 2020 cycle. View our updated application guidelines, including fee waivers and testing flexibility.

 

You've Got Questions? We've Got Answers

Darden's executive formats are based in the Washington, D.C. area and designed for busy working professionals. In this section you will find answers to questions prospective students often have. Topics include program structure and design, admissions requirements, test waiver requests, scholarship consideration and more. Learn about our Executive MBA (EMBA) and Global Executive MBA (GEMBA) formats.

  • General

    The Darden School offers one world-class MBA program in three formats: MBA, Executive MBA (EMBA) and Global Executive MBA (GEMBA). In all three formats, students earn the same Darden MBA degree and are taught through the case method by the same top-ranked faculty. In these FAQs, we will focus on the EMBA and GEMBA formats.

    I'm interested in Darden's Executive MBA Program. What are my options?

    The Darden Executive MBA Program consists of two formats: Executive MBA (EMBA) and Global Executive MBA (GEMBA), and all students, regardless of format, graduate with the exact same degree: a Darden MBA.

    Both formats are based in the Washington, D.C. area, and classes are held at UVA Darden DC Metro grounds in our brand new state-of-the-art facility on 30th and 31st floors at 1100 Wilson Boulevard in the Rosslyn district of Arlington. For more information, please read our news article on the facility.

    How many students are in the class?

    In the Executive MBA Program, we have capacity for approximately 135 students, and each enrolled class is divided into two sections of roughly 65–70 students.

    Both sections are based in Rosslyn, and each section consists of EMBA as well as GEMBA format students. Sections are shuffled throughout the program, allowing students to learn alongside a broad array of classmates and maximize networking opportunities.

    When submitting an application, you are applying to our Executive MBA Program, not a particular format. On the application, we will ask your format preference (EMBA/GEMBA/Both), but this answer is not binding in any way. Admitted students are offered their choice of formats (EMBA or GEMBA), and students then indicate their format choice when accepting their offer.

    When does the program start and end?

    Both EMBA and GEMBA are 21-month, lock-step (i.e. all students begin and conclude the program at the same time) formats of the Darden MBA. All executive format students start in August and graduate in May. For example, an EMBA student matriculating in August 2021 would graduate May 2023.

    Students receive the full program calendar several months prior to the official start of school in order to plan both personally and professionally for the months ahead. Be sure to check out our Calendar page for additional details.

    Can you explain the schedule in more detail? 

    The core program structure is the same for EMBA and GEMBA: Ten, two-month long quarters, with roughly two-thirds of the program delivered in person and one third through distance learning.

    Both formats consist of the following components: 

    • Leadership Residencies
    • Weekend Residencies
    • Distance Learning
    • Global Residencies

    Darden's executive formats are built upon a once-a-month weekend residency model. Each quarter consists of two weekend residencies as well as distance learning. Distance learning includes a mix of live online classes and self-paced asynchronous activities.

    In addition, all executive format students participate in two, weeklong leadership residencies  one leadership residency at the start of the program and one leadership residency at the conclusion of the program. Both of these residencies take place on the Darden Grounds in Charlottesville.

    Lastly, all executive format students have a required global experience. These weeklong residencies are designed to be immersive, and programming includes a mix of company visits, talks with industry leaders, meetings with executives, cultural excursions and more.

    The Executive MBA program arranges for a diverse array of global residencies and students choose from a menu that typically includes 10-12 trips. EMBA students participate in one global residency, with the option of adding additional residencies. There is an additional charge for each additional global residency (approximately $4,200).

    There are additional opportunities for global study for both EMBA and GEMBA students in the form of Global Consulting Projects. These courses are also available at an additional charge of approximately $4,200.  

    Global residences are offered during four distinct travel periods, with the first travel period occurring in February, after the conclusion of Quarter 3. Approximately two to three trips will be offered in each period:

    • February 2021 (after Q3)
    • June 2021 (after Q5)
    • October 2021 (after Q7)
    • February 2022 (after Q9)

    Global residency destinations will likely include Brazil, Argentina, China, Germany, Japan, Ghana, Israel, India, Estonia, Australia, Cuba, Indonesia and Vietnam.

    How do the quarters work? 

    Both executive formats consist of ten, two-month long quarters. The core curriculum is primarily delivered in the first year of the program. The second year of the program is primarily electives. Students take a total of 12 electives during their time in the program.

    How many classes will I take per quarter? What will my work load be?

    Executive format students take 3-4 classes per quarter. While preparation time varies, students report spending, on average, approximately 15-20 hours per week on school work. 

    When do I choose my format? Do I choose when I apply?

    Applicants are encouraged to consider both formats — EMBA and GEMBA — as they determine the option that best fits their life and schedule.

    Applicants apply to our Executive MBA program (not a particular format), although our application does ask candidates to indicate their format interest at the time of applying. This request is simply for information purposes, and it is in no way binding. 

    Those applicants who receive an offer of admission will formally indicate their format preference when accepting their offer of admission.

    I'm trying to determine my preferred format. What are some similarities/differences between EMBA and GEMBA?

    Our executive formats are very similar. Both formats feature the same core curriculum and all students graduate with the same degree (a Darden MBA). In fact, during weekend residencies, EMBA and GEMBA format students sit in class together, and they travel together on the global residencies.

    However, the principal differences between the formats are three-fold:

    1. How many global experiences are required
    2. Schedule
    3. Cost

    Number of required global experiences

    EMBA students participate in one global residency, with the option of adding additional residencies, while GEMBA students participate in four global residencies. For EMBA students who wish to participate in more than one global residency, there is an additional charge for each additional global residency (approximately $4,200).

    Prior to the start of school, students will rank the global residencies in order of preference, and the program office will slot students accordingly to preference and overall demand.

    Schedule

    The schedules for our executive formats are very similar. The only difference is the number of weeklong global residencies:

    EMBA consists of 20 weekend residencies, 2 leadership residencies, 1 global residency and distance learning. Total class days out of the office: 35.

    GEMBA consists of 20 weekend residencies, 2 leadership residencies, 4 global residencies and distance learning. Total class days out of the office: 50.

    As noted above, over the 21 months of the program, despite GEMBA’s additional weeklong experiences, the GEMBA format only requires 15 more days out of the office than the EMBA format.

    Cost

    One additional factor to consider is cost. There is a tuition difference between the EMBA and GEMBA formats of approximately $11,000. If you are considering Darden’s executive formats and believe you may want to have more than one global experience during your course of study, this differential may be of particular relevance to you. 

    EMBA students may participate in more than one global residency, and there is an additional charge for each additional global residency (approximately $4,200).

    However, it is also worth noting that travel to and from the residencies (weekend, leadership and global) is not included in the tuition and fees for either executive format, and these travel costs should also be included in your cost comparison as you explore which format and location is the right fit for you.

    Can you tell me more about the Rosslyn location?

    All executive format students will be based at the state-of-the-art UVA Darden DC Metro Grounds in the Rosslyn district of Arlington, Virginia. This convenient location is less than five miles from Washington’s Reagan National Airport and Union Station (Amtrak). Dulles International and Baltimore Washington International airports are also within a short drive.

    For students less familiar with the Washington, D.C., area, Rosslyn is located immediately across the Potomac River from D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood.

    In many ways, Darden's executive formats offer the best of both worlds, as students spend time in both Charlottesville and the D.C. area over the course of the program. All students, regardless of format, come to Charlottesville at the beginning and end of the program for two week-long leadership residencies. And all weekend residencies take place at UVA Darden DC Metro, a sleek, modern space offering panoramic views of the capital region.

    Darden's top-ranked faculty travel to the D.C. area to lead classes during weekend residencies, and faculty, staff and students have worked hard to ensure the Darden culture is a defining feature of the program experience.

    Will I get to spend time in Charlottesville?

    Yes! All students, regardless of format, come to Charlottesville at the beginning and end of the program for the week-long leadership residencies. In addition, there are also curated, extracurricular experiences offered in Charlottesville throughout the program.

    What are leadership residencies?

    All executive format students, regardless of format, start and end the program together on the historic Darden Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, with a week-long leadership residency. During these weeks, students explore different aspects leading organizations and form bonds with their classmates.

    Leadership residency 1 is entitled "Leading with an Enterprise Perspective." Leadership residency 2 is entitled "Creating the Future."

    What are global residencies?

    Global residencies are week-long trips executive format students take with Darden faculty and staff to select countries. Current residency locations (subject to change) span the globe and include Argentina, China, Ghana, Vietnam, Estonia, Israel, Cuba and more. These experiences are immersive and designed to allow students to explore the business, sociocultural and political contexts of each location.

    During each residency, students meet with executives and business leaders, tour factories and plants, network with Darden alumni, participate in speaker events and visit cultural attractions. To learn more about the global residencies, please visit our global study page.

    What is distance learning? How does it work?

    All executive format students, regardless of format (EMBA or GEMBA), have distance learning as a part of their educational experience. Executive formats are two-thirds in person and one-third online. At Darden, distance learning means online classes. These classes are typically synchronous (i.e., "live") and delivered via Zoom Meeting.

    These class meetings take place between the residencies on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7 to 8:30 pm ET. Students do not usually have distance classes during the week of a weekend residency. Most classes are an hour and a half in duration and attendance is required

    Want to learn more about distance learning at Darden? Watch this short video.

    How do electives work?

    All executive format students take 12 electives, and electives are primarily delivered in the second year of the program.

    Executive format students choose from a slate of electives offered specifically for executive format students. The program office develops the elective offerings in consultation with both students and faculty. Students also have the opportunity to pursue an independent study, case writing or a Global Consulting Project to fulfill their elective requirement.

    Recent electives include Entrepreneurial Thinking, Design Thinking, Strategy, Negotiations, Mergers & Acquisitions, Intro to Real Estate Finance & Development, and The Business of Healthcare. Darden does not offer tracks or specializations in the executive formats.

    I'm an international student considering Darden's Executive Formats. What are my options?

    International students enroll at Darden on an F-1 visa and may pursue either format  Executive MBA (EMBA) or Global Executive MBA (GEMBA). 

    Students should plan to travel to the U.S. for residencies, and the amount of travel to the U.S. will vary depending upon format. Both of executive MBA formats – EMBA and GEMBA - require a minimum of 22 trips to the U.S. over the 21 months of the program. In addition, our EMBA format requires one weeklong global residency while our GEMBA format requires four weeklong global residencies. 

    For additional information and rules affecting F-1 student employment, please consult the International Student and Scholars Program.

  • Admissions

    What are the requirements for admission?

    We review three dimensions of your background when considering an offer of admission:

    Professional — breadth and depth of your professional background and level of management responsibilities and demonstrated leadership. [Note: a minimum of five (5) years of professional experience is required.]

    Intellectual — potential to succeed academically as demonstrated through your undergraduate/graduate academic record, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation and work experience.

    Personal — the unique traits you will bring to the Darden learning community, your ability to work in a diverse group as part of a learning team, leadership potential, your commitment to others, your interpersonal communication skills, etc.

    Can I apply to Darden if I already have an MBA?

    The Darden School of Business does not admit students who have already completed an MBA from an AACSB accredited institution. To find out if a school is accredited by the AACSB, please refer to the AACSB website.

    Is an interview required?

    Interviews play an important role in our assessment of candidates and are required prior to acceptance into the program. An evaluative interview is conducted by invitation only after your application has been submitted and reviewed by the Admissions Committee.

    All interviews are conducted by a member of the Admissions Committee. For the foreseeable future, all interviews will be conducted virtually via Zoom.

    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.

    Do applicants need to take the GMAT or GRE?

    When it comes to standardized tests, in the Executive MBA application process, applicants have two options - take a standardized test or submit a test waiver request.

    Remember: Standardized tests are just one piece of information in a much broader, holistic evaluation

    Take a standardized test. We accept several standardized tests - the Executive Assessment (EA), the GMAT, GRE, the MCAT and the LSAT and we view these tests equivalently. We will also accept an older or expired score for any of these tests, but candidates who wish to submit an expired score will need to have access to their full score breakdown. 

    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.

    Applicants planning to submit a test score with their application do not need to have taken the test by their target deadline. As long as we receive the test scores at least two days prior to the decision release date for the round in question, we can keep an applicant on schedule for an on-time decision release.

    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.

    Submit a test waiver request. We also offer standardized test waivers on a case-by-case basis. In the Executive MBA application process, our test waiver request form can be found in the “Test Scores” section of the application, and waiver requests are considered along with the full application. 

    Applicants may use the text box in the waiver request field to highlight any aspects of their education or professional background they feel are relevant to our Admissions Committee’s evaluation. In evaluating waiver requests, our Committee will pay particular attention to your prior coursework (both degree-related and non-degree-related), advanced degrees, professional certifications and work responsibilities. 

    Our Admissions Committee will provide an update regarding the outcome of the waiver request review at the time of decision. There are four decision outcomes for Executive MBA applicants: 

    • Admit 
    • Conditional Admit (additional action required - for example, quantitative coursework)
    • Waitlist (in which case, additional action - like a test or quantitative coursework - would be ways to strengthen the application)
    • Deny

    Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding this process. We can be reached by email at [email protected]inia.edu.

    How does Darden maintain a fair admissions process?

    At Darden we do not tolerate conflicts of interest, and all UVA Darden personnel are prohibited from engaging in any outside employment or consulting which presents a conflict of interest with their duties (https://uvapolicy.virginia.edu/policy/HRM-025). Individuals with any ethical or other concerns in the admissions process are able to report such concerns by email so that they can be independently reviewed and investigated.

    Do students need to be employed full time?

    Yes. Our Executive MBA Program is designed for working professionals and students are expected to be employed during the program. Our curriculum is based on applying classroom knowledge to individual work situations, and is based on the give-and-take among faculty and every person in the class.

    Is there a minimum requirement for years of work experience in the Executive MBA Formats?

    The preferred minimum years of professional experience is 5. The typical executive MBA student may have anywhere from 5 to 25+ years of work experience.

    What are the deadlines for applying? Can I apply before the deadline?

    Visit the Executive MBA application deadlines page for details. You can submit your completed application at any time before the final deadline, but we encourage you to submit early, when the maximum number of class seats and scholarship awards are available.

    May I request an application fee waiver?

    A nonrefundable application fee of $250 is required to process your application.

    Here’s how to qualify for a fee waiver:

    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 and we look forward to seeing you online!

    If you have started an application, once you complete these two steps, a fee waiver code will be automatically applied to your application. If you have not yet started an application, a fee waiver code will be applied to your application once you do so.

    The following are also 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)
    • U.S. military members (Code: 10019)
    • 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].

    Is there additional guidance for reapplicants?

    If you applied in our prior admissions cycle for our Executive MBA Class of 2022, we would be happy to copy your application over to our new application period. To request this action, please complete and submit our Reapplicant Request Form

    Please note that you will need to provide answers to any new questions, and it is always a best practice to review previously submitted information for accuracy. In addition, all reapplicants are required to submit a new recommendation with their application.

    When will I receive a decision?

    Decisions are released roughly within 3 weeks of each application deadline.

    Each application round has a target interview period, decision release date and deposit deadline. For additional details, please review our Deadlines page.

    Are admissions deposits refundable?

    You will be asked to pay a deposit of $4,000 to accept your offer and confirm your intention to enroll. The deposit is non-refundable and will be applied to your student account as a credit when you enroll.

  • Financial Aid

    What types of financial aid are available to EMBA and GEMBA students?

    Financial aid is available to students in EMBA and GEMBA in the form of federal and private loan programs. These loans are not "need-based"; therefore, students with an acceptable credit rating will be eligible. For details on the three types of financial aid available, please see the  Financial Aid and Fees page.

    What do I need to do to be considered for an merit scholarship award?

    All admitted students will be evaluated for this scholarship, which is competitively awarded based on a variety of metrics and considerations. No additional documents are required for scholarship consideration. These competitive awards are based upon a variety of metrics and considerations, including but not limited to, indicators of academic merit such as Undergraduate GPA, Graduate GPA, Advanced Degree, Professional Certification(s) and Standardized Test Score. Admitted students are typically notified of the outcome of the scholarship review process when they receive their admissions decision.

    How many students typically receive a scholarship award? What is the average award amount?

    As previously noted, while all admitted students are considered for a merit scholarship, not all students will receive a scholarship award.

    In a given class, approximately 35-40% of the students will receive a merit scholarship, with awards typically ranging from $10,000 to $35,000 total. Most awards are usually $15,000 to $20,000 total. As a general rule, we have more scholarship money to award earlier in the cycle, and candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as they feel they can put together a strong application.

    All awards represent a student’s total award for the program. For billing purposes, a student’s merit scholarship award is broken into equal increments and applied at each of the program’s five billing dates. For example, if a student receives a $10,000 scholarship, her tuition payment would be discounted by $2,000 ($10,000 / 5 = $2,000) at each billing date.

  • Career Services

    What career services are available to EMBA and GEMBA students?

    EMBA and GEMBA students have access to relevant and compelling career information and education. Students learn how to effectively manage their careers through a combination of face-to-face workshops, one-on-one coaching and online career modules. Visit our dedicated Career Services page for additional details and descriptions. Career advisers are present during leadership and weekend residencies, as well as other program-related activities.

    I'm interested in switching careers. What will my job search look like?

    Career switchers are an increasing portion of the executive format applicant pool and current student population. If you are a student looking to use an executive MBA as a springboard to a new job, we have resources to support your search.

    As an executive format student, your job search will be a network-driven search and will likely begin with information-gathering and research before transitioning to interviewing and the hiring process.

    You will begin by working with The Career Center (CDC) professionals who support our executive format students to develop a strategy and action plan for your job search. This process will likely include self-reflection as well as identifying members of the Darden alumni network, your own personal and professional networks and other individuals within the Darden enterprise who can be of assistance to you in your search.

    You will then connect with these individuals, scheduling informational interviews and gathering information, as you work to identify next steps. Throughout this process you will continue to work with the CDC as you refine your action plan. As a Darden student, you will have the CDC staff, career-oriented programming and the powerful Darden alumni network (more than 17,000 alumni in 90 countries) at your disposal.

    In the second year of the program, students may attend career fairs and networking events in Charlottesville and several major U.S. cities. In addition, students may submit résumés for invitations to interview on-Grounds for full-time, entry-level MBA positions.

    To learn more about on-Grounds recruiting opportunities, view Darden’s Employment Reports.

    I’m familiar with the career search process for full-time MBA students. What will my job search look like as an Executive MBA student?

    As an executive format student, your job search will look different than that of our full-time students. This makes sense when you consider your level of experience relative to our full-time MBA students and what this differential means for the types and kinds of positions you are both seeking. Our full-time students are interviewing largely for MBA entry-level positions. As a more seasoned working professional, you will be seeking a more senior role with greater responsibility.

    Furthermore, as our executive formats require students to be employed throughout the course of the program, internships, a staple of the full-time MBA employment search, will not be part of your search.

    Please visit our Career Transition Resources website for more information.

  • Company Support

    Can you tell me more about the company support letter?

    The company support letter is NOT an admissions requirement. It is a pre-matriculation requirement. 

    For this reason, you will not find a place to include your support letter with your application. However, if you already have your support letter in hand, you are welcome to email it to us, and we will add it to your file. 

    A few more things to know about the support letter:

    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.

    https://www.darden.virginia.edu/executive-mba-formats/program-faculty

    https://www.darden.virginia.edu/executive-mba-formats/program-faculty/case-method

    https://www.darden.virginia.edu/executive-mba-formats/program-faculty/flexible-formats

    What kind of support do students need from their employers?

    For some companies, sponsorship means providing students with complete tuition assistance and days off to attend classes. For others, it is an endorsement of the student’s future value to the organization. Ideally, sponsoring an employee in a Darden executive MBA program is part of his or her career development plan.

    At a minimum, sponsorship means that an employer endorses the student as a valuable member of its management team who is expected to make even greater contributions in the future, along with a statement that the company recognizes the student must be away from the office to attend classes. 

    Are employers required to provide financial support for students to attend the program?

    No. While we encourage employers to make a financial contribution, allowing students to participate is the only investment on their part that we require.

    Can sponsors talk with someone during the admission process?

    Yes. Contact [email protected] and we will put you in touch with someone who can speak about sponsorship.