MBA Admissions Q&A: McCombs School, UT Austin |

MBA Admissions Q&A: McCombs School, UT Austin

By Mike Grill

Updated July 23, 2019 Updated July 23, 2019

In the 2014/15 academic year, the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business joined North America’s top 20 institutions at which to study an MBA in the eyes of a global pool of employers and academics in the fields of business and management – climbing 10 places from the year previous.

There are 267 students in 2015’s entering class to the full-time program at McCombs, known as the Texas MBA. This relatively small class size, by US standards, allows McCombs “to be nimble to meet our student’s needs”, according to the school’s director of full-time MBA admissions, Stephen Sweeney.

But, what kind of candidate is McCombs looking for? Sweeney outlines the admissions process and offers some advice in the following interview:

Stephen Sweeney, McCombs School
What is the typical acceptance rate to the McCombs MBA program?

Our acceptance rate is typically in the mid-20% range. We have seen a steady increase in our application volume over the last couple years. The Texas MBA continues to attract top applicants located throughout the world.

What are the most important aspects of the Texas McCombs MBA application process besides GMAT score, prior GPA, and current job position?

We are looking for individuals who will leave the Texas MBA better than when they arrived. We are a student-driven program in which our size allows us to be nimble to meet our student’s needs. It is important that an applicant knows our program well, has clearly defined career goals, and understands which aspects of the Texas MBA will allow them to achieve their goals. Throughout our application process, applicants should display what qualities and experiences they will bring to the classroom and to our community. This can come out in an applicant’s essays, letters of recommendation, and through the interview. 

What is a common mistake you see applicants make?

Applicants typically conduct research about the Texas MBA and can speak eloquently about our program offerings. Where many applicants fall short is in applying this knowledge to how they will contribute to our program and why our program is the ideal place for them to obtain their MBA. Much of this disconnect comes from applicants not being true to themselves, which means that  we can’t get an accurate picture of how they’ll fit into the academic environment, student culture and professional network. We want to get to know our applicants as best we can, so let your personality shine through! 

What is something you would like to see applicants do more often?

In addition to letting your personality shine through, we also want to know who you are outside of work. How have you been involved with your communities? What are you passionate about? Applicants can then demonstrate their knowledge of our program and ways they intend to be involved. We want leaders in the Texas MBA, so linking past experience to future involvement in our program is important.

What does the McCombs application process look like?

We have three application rounds that an applicant can apply in. In each round, interviews are extended by invitation only. Each application is reviewed multiple times by multiple individuals on the admissions committee. The admissions committee then meets to make final admissions decisions before each decision notification deadline.

How can a candidate overcome a lower GMAT score?

The GMAT (and GRE) is one component of your application package. We do not have a minimal score requirement and we admit students on a wide score range. Therefore, there are many ways to overcome a lower score. We will look at all aspects of your application to understand your quantitative and written abilities. This includes reviewing your professional background, GPA, major and coursework from your undergraduate study, extracurricular activities you are pursuing or leadership roles you hold. If you are invited, we will also assess your communication skills during our interview.

MBA admissions tips

Essay(s): Answer our essay prompts clearly. We ask our questions for a reason and want to know as much about you as possible in a relatively short amount of words. Do not go off topic or write about yourself in a non-genuine way.

Interview: Research the Texas MBA and come prepared.

Letters of recommendation: Choose a recommender who truly knows the work you are capable of and who understands what your goals are. Having a meeting with your recommender prior to him or her writing your recommendation is a good idea. During this time, you can review the work you have done and also articulate why you are pursuing your MBA.

CV/résumé: Mark dates of employment and career progression clearly. Leave nothing up for interpretation when it comes to your chronological work history.

School visit: We understand that not everyone is able to visit campus. We encourage applicants to visit us because we feel you can get a true sense of our community and how our program differs from many others. Come for an information session, come for lunch, and come for a class visit. If you cannot make it for a visit, be sure to check our website for places we will be visiting around the world and also reach out to any current students or alumni for information.

This article was originally published in August 2015 . It was last updated in July 2019

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Mike's remit covers content, SEO and blogger outreach. Outside of his work for, he is an assistant coach for MLU outfit, the Portland Stags.