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MBA Admissions Q&A: SDA Bocconi

SDA Bocconi admissions

SDA BocconiMilan, Italy’s second-most populous city, is perhaps most famous for its football and its fashion. It is also the heart of Italian business, finance and industry – so, naturally, it boasts as a world-class business school in SDA Bocconi. Founded in 1971 as the business school of the prestigious Bocconi University, the school holds triple accreditation and is currently sits in 5th place in the QS Global 200 rankings for Europe.

If a combination of la dolce vita and top drawer business education appeals, then maybe SDA Bocconi could be the place for you. We spoke to recruiting and admissions officer Laura Russo to find out who the school is looking for and how you can give yourself the best chance of getting in.

What is the typical acceptance rate to the SDA Bocconi MBA program and what is a typical ratio of domestic to international students accepted into the program?

One out of three applicants are admitted into the full-time MBA program. Up to 70% of the student body is international, with around 30 nationalities usually represented in a student body of 100. The US and Asian countries tend to send a lot of students.

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

The interview plays quite an important role. We look at prior experience mainly; we don’t take students fresh from their studies, and look for at least a couple of years, preferably three, of experience. Average experience is five years. We look for a strong academic background with an emphasis on experience in order to grasp what is being taught. A letter of recommendation and international experience are also important, although international experience is not mandatory. Willingness to take on challenges and the ability to work under pressure are important. We would prefer an applicant with a lower GPA who completed their program on time over a perfectionist who took longer.  

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

Applicants can be superficial in deciding what schools to apply to and do not take the time to go into detail and really assess the school. Whether or not students have really researched the school comes through in the essay. SDA Bocconi is keener to have prospective students sit for an interview when it is evident that they have invested their energies in applying to the school. We like to see applicants that have done their research.  

What does the SDA Bocconi application process look like?

Students should start with the online application where they answer qualitative questions about their professional experience and attach their CV/résumé. Two reference letters and original copies of their transcripts should be sent. They can choose to send in their application with their GMAT/TOEFL/IELTS or before the tests. SDA Bocconi can then choose to have the interview, arranged through the alumni network, before receiving the test results. The interviews are arranged locally when possible. A school visit invite is then sent to some applicants where they meet with officials and other school personnel. International students need the appropriate visas and documentation.

How can a candidate overcome a lower GMAT score?

Retaking it! We do not have a minimum score, but the average for the 2015 class was 660. The same score cannot be expected from all applicants since we have such a diverse program with a mix of non-native English speakers. However, a GMAT score can help balance a poorer academic record. We do not typically accept scores lower than 600, but we look at applications in a very holistic way. We look for overall consistency more than one aspect like a GMAT score.

Admissions tips

Essay: It is always important to be practical and give examples so that we can see your personality

Interview: Give a strong presentation, avoid exaggeration, be honest; we expect you to have weaknesses which you’re trying to improve upon, be mature in the way you describe yourself.

Written by Mike Grill

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

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