Virginia Darden MBA

Rankings | Class Profile | Employment Report | Sample Essays | Interview Questions

Virginia Darden MBA – Introduction


The Darden School of Business is a top-tier MBA program at University of Virginia. Due to the strength of its academic community, UVA has significant entrepreneurial activity and is interested in fostering innovation within the MBA program.

A quick glance at Darden’s rankings will reveal just how scattered and silly the whole business school rankings game has become. The Economist puts UVA’s Darden School at number three in the world, behind only Chicago and Dartmouth Tuck. Rival British publication, The Financial Times, has Darden at a rank of 32nd in the world. Both results lack any credibility, largely due to the severely flawed methodologies followed by those two lists.

Darden’s Class of 2015 was among the most highly compensated MBAs in the world. The average starting salary and bonus was $136,474, up 14.4$ from $119,278 five years earlier. The 2015 pay numbers make Darden MBAs the 11th highest paid graduates out of U.S. business schools,  with Chicago Booth and Duke Fuqua just ahead of the school’s graduates and Northwestern Kellogg, NYU Stern just below the Darden numbers.

When it came to employment, Darden did even better. Some 94% of the Class of 2015 had jobs three months after graduation. That was seventh best among the top 25 U.S. MBA programs, with Wharton, Emory, and Dartmouth Tuck just slightly higher.

Good facts:

– The largest cohort went to consulting (35%) followed by Financial services (28%), general management (22%) and Marketing (12%).

– Same trends is observed when it comes to placement split by industries, 34% batch went to consulting industry and 24% went to financial services industry.

– Only 14% placement in tech industry is a bit surprising for a good B-school but it might be the east cost impact.

– Darden admitted 39% women candidates in last intake which is surprisingly high % of male to female ration. With the given statistics any girl aspiring for Darden should have a decent shot at an interview invite with good essays.

Not so good facts:

– Last year Darden received 2736 applications and rolled out 670 admission offers. which represents a conversion rate of 25%. A 25 percent conversion rate means an almost 50% reduction from application to interview invites to final offers. If you are applying to Darden you have a 50-50 shot at getting an interview call.

– Average GMAT score for the last incoming class was 713. For Indian applicatns the average could be well above 720.

– However the downside is that Darden only took 34% international candidates which is a bit on the lower side when compared to US school averages.

Financial Times
The Economist
US News Rankings

Virginia Darden MBA Sample Essays


Essay 1: Why is an MBA a critical next step toward your short- and long-term career goals? (500 word limit)

Experimentation work during college enabled me to put my ideas into practice and gave me a tremendous sense of fulfillment. Moreover, various responsibilities, roles and projects in the past two years at Company ABC have made my product engineering fundamentals very strong.

My technical prowess and vision was appreciated by Company ABC and I got a steep career growth in a short span. While working intensively in IT and dealing with all aspects of project implementation, I began to realize my need for formal education in business administration. I look at a senior position in a global product/services company as my short term goal. This position will help me learn how to resolve practical issues, develop business plans, formulate strategies and identify new markets. It will also provide me great knowledge about marketing, customer acquisition and retention and brand management.

As a long haul I see myself heading my own product enterprise and turning my ideas into action. I envisage an enterprise which would tap unique user requirements and develop cutting edge software products for individuals and businesses …Continue Reading Here


Each of our applicants is unique. Describe how your background, values, education, activities and/or leadership skills will enhance the experience of other Darden students. (500 word limit)

I have consciously endeavored to grow positively as a person with each passing day. I am a person of varied interests, ranging from the technical research (papers) to the business (website and Company ABC products) to the artistic (painting) to the altruistic (community service). I always integrate my diverse interests so that my skills and activities complement each other. My self-conviction and ability to make powerful determinations has facilitated my journey from a humble beginning to a successful professional life.

I’m all about possibility rather than subscribing to a rigid set of values. Therefore no matter how daunting the situation might be, I am able define a clear roadmap. My ‘out of box’ thinking has made me accomplish more within a specified time period as compared to other people. I have already filed one patent and another is under process. I have ingrained thought leadership at Company ABC and developed an ability to make existing workflows more efficient. I have been involved in novel ideas generation and research with two of my research papers published by organizations like IEEE. With my research and product engineering fundamentals I will provide a good learning experience to other Darden students….Continue Reading Here

Virginia Darden MBA Interview


My interview was during the first week of February. I received an invite to interview on January 23rd and the only available options were the following week. Since Darden makes you fly to Charlottesville to interview if you live in the U.S., I didn’t really have an option, but to fly in. I flew in Thursday night to Charlottesville and stayed at the Inn at Darden (which I would recommend). The hotel itself is not the nicest, but it’s so convenient to be able to walk to your interview in the morning and not worry about catching an uber or lyft to campus.

On my actual interview day, there was a standard agenda that I followed. The admissions office offered a “continental breakfast” which was really just bananas, coffee, and bagels. They had students who came and talked to us throughout the morning.

I interviewed with an admissions officers and the interview was broken up into four sections. She started by giving me an introduction to who she was and told me that this was a time for me to tell my story- my values and interests and what has led me to this point. After giving me one section, I would respond and then she would provide me with the questions/transition to the next section.

  1. What are your values, passions, your background (feel free to start from your early years). Where did you go to college and why? What major did you select? Talk about any internships you had in college and any leadership positions you held.
  2. Let’s talk about your career. What was your first job? Have you changed jobs since then? If so, why? In your jobs, what was a challenge you faced and what has been an accomplishment? (I have worked at two companies and I provided a challenge and accomplishment for each).
  3. Why MBA? Why Now? Long term/short term goals? Why Darden?
  4. Sometimes you are the only one like yourself in the room or in a certain setting. Tell me about a time when this was the case. What did you learn? What were some of the challenges?How will that equip you to be successful in business school?…Continue Reading Here

Virginia Darden MBA Application Essay Tips


Leadership, international focus, and a sense of passion and purpose are important to the Darden admissions committee. In all of these essays you will want to communicate who you are and what motivates you. Also, consider both career and your personal life in your essays. The restrictive word counts can be challenging. Therefore, be focused and precise in your responses.

How should you highlight personal qualities in this set of essays? Consider that leadership is crucial to future Darden MBAs. In addition, teamwork is important to Darden, a school with a small, tight-knit community.

The case method is the primary teaching method at Darden, similar to Harvard Business School. Engaging with the case method requires the ability to communicate clearly and bring your perspective to the conversation.

Talking to a current student is a great way to learn more about Darden. So, the Darden admissions committee makes it easy for you to reach out to students directly on the admissions website.

For the 2019-20 application cycle, Darden will again offer multiple short answer questions. The goal is to get to know all of the various facets of your background and personality.

Essay 1: Darden strives to identify and cultivate responsible leaders who follow their purpose. Please provide an example of a situation in which you have made a meaningful impact. (200 words)

This set of MBA essays provides a holistic view of your background, motivations and goals – and in some ways this question is a close companion to the career goals question at the end. When you examine your past leadership opportunities, what is the connecting thread? Are you a consensus builder or a director of projects? Do you keep the project running on time, or do you question the premise? What has been your style when dealing with difficult peers or bosses?

This example could be professional or extracurricular, but ideally describes a significant accomplishment that made an impact. Also, the impact could be big or small as long as it was meaningful to you and those around you. Ideally this example is an example of your larger interests and passions.

For example, if you are devoted to diversity, perhaps you started a mentoring program or funded internships for underrepresented employees. And the impact of that action may have been limited to your department or company. However, it shows your values and allows you to discuss how you would make a greater impact on the world.

Essay 2: Diversity and inclusion are critical to our mission, and they work best when they are an integral and celebrated part of our community. Read University of Virginia’s Diversity & Inclusion Vision Statement. Share a time in which you engaged with a perspective, identity, community or experience that was different from your own and how it impacted your worldview. (200 words)

This question focuses specifically on diversity and inclusion. Therefore, you should consider your own record of engagement with a different community in your example. Also, consider any travel abroad experiences or a time when you lived or worked in a culture different from your own.

If you have not spent a significant amount of time outside your own country or culture, look at college or work. Many people live and work with different people at university or the workplace, and that can be a good source of examples. For example, perhaps you had a teammate who grew up outside your country. Did you learn more about your teammate’s culture? You may have learned more about holidays and celebrations, or perhaps experienced different attitudes about problem solving and community. Then, consider what this experience taught you about yourself.

Essay 3: The Batten Foundation Worldwide Scholarship provides all Darden students in our full-time MBA program with an opportunity to participate in a Darden Worldwide Course. If you could choose any location in the world, where would you want to travel, and why? (50 words)

To learn more about Darden’s international programs, visit the Darden website. You can connect with an international location by participating in short visits through a Global Immersion Course or Global Topic Course, spend a semester abroad with an Exchange Program, or work directly with an international business as part of the Global Client Courses.

While Darden describes the current programs and countries on the website, this MBA essay question asks for your ideal location and why you are interested in it. Your interest in a particular region could be personal or professional and should have an academic basis.

The focus of these international programs is to learn more about the world of business beyond the United States. Therefore, with that context what would you like to know and where would you like to learn it?

Essay 4: Tell us what you would want your learning team to know about you – personally, professionally, or both? (100 words)

Darden is a community, and the learning team is the smallest unit of that community. You will be assigned a team of diverse classmates to meet before class and discuss your case assignments. The purpose of these discussions is to ensure that all of you are prepared to participate in the class discussion. Ideally the learning team is a supportive environment and allows everyone to learn and express their own point of view.

This essay allows you to introduce yourself to the Darden community while imagining that you are speaking only to a small group of your peers. What should your learning team know about your background? What diverse perspective will you bring to the learning environment? Perhaps you have a unique professional background that will be new to your teammates.

You may be from an underrepresented region of the world, or you have an interesting personal background. In just a few words, describe what you think will set you apart from your peers and be interesting for the team to know about you. To learn more about your potential classmates, talk to a student ambassador or review Darden’s MBA Student Stories.

Essay 5: What is your short-term, post-MBA goal and why? (150 words)

This question focuses specifically on your short-term career goal. But since you are likely taking that next step in order to set the groundwork for your larger career goals it is entirely appropriate to describe your overall career aspirations. Because in the previous questions in this set of essays you have described your personality, motivations, impact and accomplishments, your career goals should fit seamlessly into that story.

Do not be intimidated by career goals questions if you are still exploring what you want to do with your life. Darden offers intensive career counseling and you will have an opportunity to explore many career paths in school. Therefore, the essay question seeks to understand why you are pursuing this path and what you hope to get out of it.

The goal is to understand how you think and plan, and what motivates your career decisions. If you are inspired by what you have experienced as a leader and as someone who has a positive impact on others, that inspiration should be part of your career aspirations as well. Darden will help you refine your goals and learn the skills you need.

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