Review the application steps for an overview of Darden's application process.
The Darden MBA application begins with a request for demographic information, address, education, professional history and so on.
In order to meet regulatory, accreditation, and other reporting requirements, the Darden School asks applicants to report their race/ethnicity, as defined by U.S. Department of Education standards, as part of the application process. This individual applicant information on race/ethnicity is not available to anyone involved in the evaluation process while an applicant being considered for admission to the school.
The residency section of the application requests information related to verification of residency to establish in-state status for Virginia residents. Residency status is assigned by the Virginia Status Office at the University. Visit the Virginia Status Office at the University or call +1-434-982-3391 if you need more information.
We expect that the information provided in and for an application will be valid and will accurately represent your qualifications for admission to Darden. If articles contained within the application are ascertained to contain invalid information or misrepresent your qualifications, sanctions will be taken, up to and including the revocation of the MBA degree.
Step-By-Step Guide to the Application Process
1. Select Your Deadline
The 2022-23 Future Year Scholars Program application will available by November, and 2023 deadlines will be shared here once available.
2021-2022 Application Deadlines:
Round 1: 12 April 2022
Round 2: 2 August 2022
Which deadline is right for you? Apply as soon as you feel like you can put together a strong application. There is no strategic advantage to applying in an earlier round.
From the dropdown menu, you will select your application type: 2022 Future Year. Please make sure you select the application type that corresponds to your program of interest.
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 gather information and think about a timeline that will help you plan and strategize working through the application.
Our Admissions process is holistic in nature. Consider how each component of your application contributes to this overall narrative. Approach the application process as a storytelling exercise. This is an initial introduction to you, and we look forward to learning more about you. Prioritize examples that demonstrate the authentic person behind the application.
If you participate in an interview, this will be a further opportunity for you to reinforce and supplement this narrative. While not all Darden applicants will participate in an interview, we nevertheless encourage you to consider how these two phases of the application process align and complement each other.
3. Acquire Your Transcript
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. You will be asked to upload a transcript for each institution you enter in the Education History section of your application.
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. Take a Standardized Test
We accept a number of standardized tests – GMAT, GRE, Executive Assessment (EA), MCAT and LSAT. We encourage candidates to choose the test that best aligns with their strengths, application plans and career goals. Self-reported scores are acceptable for the purposes of our application process, but applicants should also arrange for GMAC, ETS or Pearson VUE to send their official score report directly to the Darden Admissions office. The above graduate-level standardized test scores are viewed equivalently by the admissions committee as part of the application process.
Candidates are required to report all valid test scores. Candidates are not required to report cancelled or expired test scores. However, you should include cancelled or expired test administrations in the overall test administration counts reported in the Standardized Test section of the application.
- GMAC: KC7-0X-86
- ETS: 4629
- TOEFL: 5820 Dept. 02
- IELTS: 5099
Test Flexibility: ACT/SAT
Starting in 2021, all applicants for Darden’s Future Year Scholars Program may submit the SAT or ACT in lieu of the graduate-level standardized tests listed above. When deciding whether or not to apply with an existing SAT or ACT score, we encourage you to take a step back and think about their candidacy as our Admissions Committee will – holistically and objectively. Is your current score one that demonstrates your academic readiness for an MBA curriculum or would your application benefit from having a more recent academic-related data point?
5. Sharpen Your Resume
For applicants with under ten years of professional work experience, a one-page resume is sufficient.
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 or responsibilities? Why are these items you have decided to highlight? And whenever possible, try to quantify your results.
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 Recommenders
We require two recommendations as part of our application process.
Identifying Your Recommenders
Submit two recommendations from individuals whom you believe can speak directly to your aptitude and capabilities for graduate study and for future success as a manager.
Identify someone who will help us learn more about your accomplishments and leadership potential through specific examples and anecdotes.
When choosing your recommenders (and setting expectations), be sure to keep in mind what they will be asked to do. Our recommendation process is completely electronic, and your recommenders will fill out two pieces of information — a ratings grid in which they 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.
Recommendations are typically the slowest part of the application process, so identify your recommenders well in advance of your target deadline. Make sure they understand why you’re pursuing an MBA in the future, and why you’re interested in Darden. We also suggest sharing a copy of your resume with them. And last but not least: Stay in touch. We find that most recommenders are deadline-oriented, so make sure they know your application timing.
About the Recommendations Process
Once you enter your recommenders' information and contact details, they will receive an email with a link to our recommendation materials. Occasionally, this email gets caught in spam filter and does not reach the recommender. In this situation, simply contact our Admissions team ([email protected]) and we will re-send the recommendation link to your recommender.
Our recommendation process is completely electronic, and your recommendation will automatically associate with your application once the recommendation is submitted. In other words, once you have finished your portion of the application, you may go ahead and submit your materials. However, once you have submitted your application, you will be unable to edit your application or enter additional recommender information.
You will receive an email notification once your recommender submits their recommendation. You will also notice a green check mark next to their name and information on your Application Status page (a red “X” will display if the recommendation is still pending).
7. Respond to Our Short Answer Questions
For the 2021–22 application cycle, we will again feature multiple short answer questions, which provides 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.
New for this year, for the “Leadership and Impact” and “Diversity and Inclusion” questions, you will choose to respond to one of two prompts. Select the prompt that best aligns with your past experiences and the overall narrative you are crafting through your application materials.
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.
One of our favorite application tips involves this feedback stage – when you share your responses with your friend, don’t tell them the prompts (at least initially). See if they can guess the questions based upon your responses. If they can, you are well on your way to finalizing your answers!
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. Anything you choose to share should be valuable to both you and potentially our Admissions Committee.
9. There's No Application Fee!
There is no fee to apply! Once you've completed your application, you can hit submit. This cost savings is just one more benefit to our deferred enrollment program.