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Stanford MBA - What you Need to Know!

Updated: Mar 15

In the first article of our new MBA Spotlight Series, where we provide a bird’s eye view of the top MBA programs in the world, we look at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and its exceptional MBA program.

Stanford GSB is one of the best business schools in the world.

Stanford MBA: The Basics

Spread across 8,180 acres, Stanford University is located in California, in close proximity to the cities of San Francisco and San Jose, and the dynamic Silicon Valley on the west coast. The MBA program at Stanford GSB is a two year program, with an average class size of 420 students.

The MBA program has three application rounds, typically in September, January, and April. Check out the latest deadlines here. The average full-time work experience of the incoming MBA batch is four years, with a median GMAT score of 734.

The program was ranked 1st and 3rd in the FT Global MBA rankings for 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Key Program Details

  • Collaborative Learning: Stanford encourages its MBA students to look beyond the borders of the Graduate School of Business, and take up courses in its other schools as well. Students have the opportunity to take classes in a variety of areas, and even opt for joint & dual degrees in law, education, public policy, computer science, electrical engineering, environment & resources, and medicine.

  • Faculty: The GSB has an exceptional faculty, from Nobel laureates to Board members of global companies. The smaller class size also allows greater interaction opportunities, with a 6-1 student to faculty ratio.

  • Global Outlook: Stanford prides itself on giving its students a truly global learning experience. Some of the ways it achieves this are through its Global Management Immersion Experience (GMIX), which involves an international summer project with sponsoring organizations, and intensive global study trips across the globe.

Admission Criteria

The MBA application consists of academic performance, test scores, professional experiences, essays and recommendations. While the content of these will vary greatly for each applicant, Stanford lists three primary criteria upon which it bases its admission decisions,

  • Intellectual Vitality: This includes an assessment of historic academic performance, but also looks at a candidate’s ability to develop ideas, test and challenge assumptions, and solve problems.

  • Demonstrated Leadership Potential: The school looks for evidence of positive change that a candidate has achieved in their workplace and community. This includes taking initiatives, delivering results and encouraging others.

  • Personal Qualities & Contributions: The school also wants to understand a student’s ambitions and beliefs. It looks to understand their story and what their goals for the future are.

Essay Questions

The MBA application requires two essays on the topics ‘What matters the most to you, and why?’ and ‘Why Stanford?’

The essay questions for Stanford are both very specific, and at the same time very individualistic. The first question provides candidates with an opportunity to describe their ambitions and priorities. It should be used to highlight one’s motivations, and the experiences that have led to their personal and professional decisions.

The second question requires candidates to dig deep into why Stanford in particular is the school where they wish to embark on the next phase of their lives. The content of this essay cannot simply revolve around metrics such as school rankings and graduate salaries. It requires research into the school, its philosophies, the program’s key components and so on.

The combined word limit for the two essays is 1,050 words.

Career Outcomes

The career outcomes of Stanford GSB graduates are amongst the best in the world, regardless of sectors or functions. Some key takeaways from the Class of 2019 to highlight this are,

  • 94% of graduates seeking employment received an offer within 3 months of graduation.

  • The average base salary was $150,000 and the average expected performance bonus was $66,000.

  • The top industry destinations for graduates were finance (33%), technology (24%), and consulting (18%). However, graduates were also employed in a wide variety of other sectors, from healthcare, to education, to real estate and many others.

  • 15% of the class also started their own ventures, with 15% of these new ventures being in the field of nonprofit/social innovation.

With all the incredible facets mentioned above, it’s easy to see why the Stanford MBA is one of the most sought after in the world. But what does it take to get into this prestigious program?


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