The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is to finance what Harvard is to general management or Northwestern is to marketing. There’s an impressive variety of financial electives here taught by some of the best finance faculty in the world. We agree with Dan Bauer, formerly of The MBA Exchange, a leading admissions firm, who put it this way: “A Wharton MBA education is like a ‘blue-chip stock’ with a long history of growth. Yes, the market’s enthusiasm and demand for any investment will ebb and flow over time, but in this case, the long-term ROI is rock solid.”
Wharton, in fact, has consistently ranked as one of the top business schools in the nation for MBAs. Its earned recognition for its finance program and its total MBA population clocks in at over 1,730 MBA students and 240 world-renown faculty members.
But Wharton wants to be known for more than just “the finance school.”
“It’s great that Wharton is the finance school, but Wharton is so much more,” Wharton Dean Geoffrey Garrett says in an interview with P&Q.
Over the years, the school has focused on expanding its image to encompass more than just finance.
“How we deliver on that and what we focus on is important. First, with finance, we want to make it forward-looking, not back-looking, so we want to lead not only in private equity and hedge funds but also in fintech, cryptocurrency, and Blockchain,” Garrett says. “It’s great that we have the history and the heritage in finance, but we need to leverage that to be forward-looking. Second, what’s distinctive about Wharton is that it is a pretty technical and analytical place so Wharton should be known as the analytics school, too. We are not only analytical in finance, we are analytical throughout. We’ve got the university’s statistics department here. In a big data era, that is an incredible asset for us.”
ROUND 1: 17 September 2019
ROUND 2: 07 January 2020
ROUND 3: 01 April 2020
INTERVIEW INVITE 1: 29 October 2019
INTERVIEW INVITE 2: 13 February 2020
INTERVIEW INVITE 3: 16 April 2020
DECISION 1: 18 December 2019
DECISION 2: 26 March 2020
DECISION 3: 08 May 2020
APPLICATION ESSAY TIPS
The Wharton School seeks to understand who you are and what motivates you in this set of essays. Beyond your credentials and experience, fit is important. Are you excited to join the Wharton community? How will you contribute? Wharton values diversity and teamwork, and wants a class that will work well with each other. Review our Wharton MBA essay tips, and get to know the Wharton community. You could visit campus, research online, and attend admissions events. Wharton has a specific culture, and learning about the culture will pay off in your application.
Essay 1: What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)
This is a standard career goals question. However, it’s also a question about your personality and potential success in the program. Jordan Mock, WG’16 wrote a blog post with three excellent tips for this essay, saying, “Wharton is unique and your essay should reflect that.”
Be careful to answer the specific question in this career goals essay. Notice that you are not asked about your professional background or your key accomplishments outright. You will want to focus mainly on the future and what you are planning to pursue with your MBA degree. How will a Wharton MBA help you “connect the three career dots” that Jordan writes about?
You have room to add color by using your background information where it’s most relevant to your goals. Think about the key moments of your professional life that crystallized your goals for you, and focus on illuminating those decision points rather than reciting your entire resume. Anything unique in your background is always worth highlighting.
Understanding exactly how you fit in will help you describe what Wharton will do for you, as well as navigate interactions with the Wharton admissions committee. Consider including specific information from your Wharton research in this essay. For example, mention the Wharton faculty you would like to study with or unique educational opportunities at Wharton.
When you address your personal goals for the MBA make sure you are making the case for Wharton specifically. Consider what living in Philadelphia might be like. Think about the many clubs and student activities. Also, research the leadership development opportunities like traveling to Antarctica with your classmates that may address some of your personal life goals.
Essay 2: Describe an impactful experience or accomplishment that is not reflected elsewhere in your application. How will you use what you learned through that experience to contribute to the Wharton community? (500 words)
Wharton is an intense academic environment, but also a strong community with focus on teamwork and learning from each other. As you select a topic for this essay, think about a time you demonstrated your collaborative approach to team problem solving. What have you done that can show how you will contribute to the community?
Your contribution to the Wharton community could be in the classroom, clubs or within small group projects. You might bring your experiences launching a new product to your marketing case studies. Maybe you will lend creative ideas to your learning team as you prepare a research project, because you have demonstrated creativity in your past accomplishments.
Perhaps you have shown a tendency to teach and mentor others, and you plan to help your learning teammates with skills that they may not have learned in their own past work.
Or you might contribute to the Media and Entertainment Club by leading a career trek or bringing a new speaker to campus because you have connections from a prior career experience. Think about what you have learned in your career and in prior academics that may help those around you at Wharton.
Additional Question (required for all Reapplicants): Explain how you have reflected on the previous decision about your application, and discuss any updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, extracurricular/volunteer engagements). (250 words)*
*First-time applicants may also use this section to address any extenuating circumstances. (250 words)
All re-applicants are required to provide information that supports your renewed candidacy. The most successful version of the re-applicant essay will provide tangible evidence that you have improved the overall package you are submitting this year.
Improvements like GMAT score or new quantitative classes are especially tangible and convincing. But a promotion, increase in responsibility at work, a job change or even a change of goals and mission can serve as reasonable updates.
A rejection or waitlist last year is a form of feedback, and may have led to soul searching for you. When you describe your changes make sure reflect your ability to take feedback and improve. Describe how you approached the reapplication process after assessing your own strengths and weaknesses as a candidate. It is also useful to describe your efforts to improve.
If you are not a re-applicant you may use this space to address any areas of concern in your application. If you have a low GPA or GMAT, gaps in your resume, grades under a C in any quantitative courses. Wharton cares specifically about calculus, statistics and microeconomics – classes like finance and accounting are less indicative of core quant ability.
Other issues could be disciplinary action in undergrad. If there is anything else that you want to explain, provide a brief explanation and any supporting evidence to show you have moved past the setback and corrected any concerns.