Introduction – Chicago Booth MBA Review

 

The mantra of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business is it’s all about the idea. Students focus on generating, analyzing, comparing, and refining ideas in order to elevate them to better ideas.

The full-time MBA program consists of 20 classes plus Leadership Effectiveness and Development (LEAD).

The flagship of the program is its flexible curriculum. Unlike many other top schools with lockstep first-year MBA programs, Booth does not require its MBAs to go through every class together. One key exception is the LEAD course, which all MBAs must take. However, by and large, students design a program tailored to fit their own career goals.

In 2009, after a faculty review of the curriculum, the school added a new academic concentration in analytical management and also required all students in the evening MBA program and weekend MBA program to take a leadership development course similar to the one required of full-time students.

In addition to analytic management, the school’s 14th concentration, students can graduate with an academic focus in accounting, econometrics and statistics, economics, entrepreneurship, and finance. Other choices include analytic finance, general management, human resource management, international business, managerial and organizational behavior, marketing management, operations management, and strategic management.

Graduation requirements for students in the full-time MBA program include nine required courses, 11 electives, and a leadership course; though in 2009, more approved substitute classes have been added to satisfy the nine required courses. To meet the 11 elective requirements students can choose from several hundred courses at the business school and other departments of the university.

Some of the new courses added since the curriculum review in the required portion of the program are more rigorous, an adjustment made to account for the more varied group of students entering the mainstream MBA program. The school added a hybrid finance class containing five weeks of corporate finance and five weeks of investments, for example, that is much more difficult than the standard finance or investment courses.

The three foundation areas of accounting, microeconomics, and statistics remained the same through the curriculum review. But the requirement to take breadth and general management courses was replaced by selecting classes representing functions (finance, marketing, and operations), management (decisions, people, and organizations), and the environment in which firms operate.

Rankings

7
Financial Times
1
The Economist
3
US News Rankings

Class profile

Placement Statistics – Employment Report

Application Deadlines

ROUND 1: 26 September 2019

ROUND 2: 07 January 2020

ROUND 3: 02 April 2020

DECISION 1: 05 December 2019

DECISION 2: 19 March 2020

DECISION 3: 21 May 2020

Application Essay Tips

 

Booth has made a couple of changes in its application this year. The major change is that it dropped the image prompt essay from years past. This allows applicants to focus specifically on their relationship as they see how it relates to the school and to be more direct rather than creative in their responses. The school has said they want to see more real insight into the individual, allowing applicants to focus more on their goals and why they are important. This is an indirect message for you to focus more on the introspective aspects of your application rather than your academic record (GMAT and GPA).

When asked about the change in this year’s application, Admissions Officer Donna Swinford explains on the Full-Time MBA Admissions Blog, “At Booth, passions and ambitions serve as a compass in navigating our choice-rich environment. This year, you will find we want to get right at those motivations—to the things that inspire you and your post-MBA future.”

What is also different is that while many schools offer a maximum word limit for their essays, Booth has a word minimum. Again this allows the applicant a chance to express who they are without constraints and to be able to fully express the way the school will fit their goals on a personal level as well as an academic level. This relieves the applicant of any anxiety on being too verbose or having to chop key details out of their response. It is recommended that 550-650 words should do it. Use 750 words as your max or you risk indicating to the reader that you are searching aimlessly for answers.

Before answering these essays, it is highly recommend that you visit the school, talk to alums and students, take a tour, and immerse yourself in the Hyde Park neighborhood and Chicago in general. Make sure you do your homework by following the school’s social media sites as well as their website and blogs.

Essay One: How will the Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (250 word minimum)

This is the classic essay, “Why Booth?” There are two goals for your response. The first is for you to display your knowledge of what you know about the Booth MBA as it pertains to you, and the second is for you to demonstrate that you have assessed your strengths and weaknesses as they pertain to your goals five or ten years down the road. So make sure you completely understand the school before answering this question by taking the steps to learn as much as you can about Booth.

This will be your chance to show what is important to you as well. What other aspects of going to Booth appeal to you? Is it a particular set of classes and faculty, the community of Hyde Park, the City of Chicago, or? Be as authentic as you can so that you can explain quite simply why Booth is the best place for you to become the person you want to be both professionally and personally, and if possible, that you will attend Booth if accepted.

Although your career path might change over time, the school wants to see what aspirations you have. It is important to be realistic and for you to share that vision with the reader who will believe in the school’s ability to help you.

Essay Two: Chicago Booth immerses you in a choice-rich environment. How have your interests, leadership experiences, and other passions influenced the choices in your life? (250 word minimum)

You might want to answer this question first. This tells the Admissions Committee about how you got to Essay One. They are prompting you to look back at your past whereas Essay One wants you to look to the future.

With a flexible schedule and only one required class at Booth, the school wants to know what motivates you and how you got to this point in your career. They are not necessarily looking at just your work experiences, but your personal experiences as well (both failures and successes). They want to know how those milestones in life drove you to make those decisions. It is not the “what” as much as it is about the “how” and the “why” you were driven.

Try to avoid repeating information in this response that you provide in the other essay. Additionally, do not get tripped up by the word “passions.” Replace the word “passions” with “factors.” Perhaps a death, a birth, a mentor, or a special circumstance created a key turning point in your life.


There is no maximum length, only a 250 word minimum. We trust that you will use your best judgment in determining how long your submission should be, but we recommend that you think strategically about how to best allocate the space.

Optional Question: Is there any unclear information in your application that needs further explanation? (300 word maximum)

Chicago Booth’s optional essay prompt is a little quirky in that the admissions committee uses the word “unclear,” which to us sounds like a more direct way of saying, “Don’t share additional information just to ‘sell’ your candidacy, but use this space only to address a problem area.” So let us be especially clear: however tempted you may be, do not use this space to simply share a strong essay you wrote for another school or offer a few anecdotes you were unable to share in your required essays. This is your opportunity to address—if you need to—any lingering questions that an admissions officer might have about your candidacy, such as a low GMAT or GRE score, a poor grade or overall GPA, or a gap in your work experience.

Reapplicant Question: Upon reflection, how has your perspective regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application? (300 word maximum)

With this essay question, Chicago Booth is testing your resolve and your reasoning. We surmise that the school wants to be certain you are not just stubbornly following a path and trying to “finish what you started,” so to speak, but that you have truly reassessed your needs in the aftermath of your unfortunate rejection. We recommend that you discuss your subsequent growth and development as they pertain to additional personal and professional discovery, which validates your need for an MBA. In the interim, some of your interests or goals may have changed—that is not a bad thing, and the admissions committee will not automatically assume that you are “wishy-washy,” unless you give them good reason to do so. Just be sure that any of your goals that have changed still logically connect to your overall story and desire for an MBA. Your aspirations—new or original—need to represent a compelling progression of the growth you have achieved in the past year.

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