MBA Admissions Q&A: UC Davis GSM

MBA admissions interview with UC Davis

If you’re looking to undertake an MBA in California, the chances are that the Graduate School of Management (GSM) at the University of California, Davis will feature on your admissions radar. The UC Davis MBA is on the up – climbing 18 places in QS’s 2014/15 regional rankings and now lying comfortably within North America’s top 50 and indeed, the US’s top 30.

But, how can one find out if the school’s MBA program is right for you? According to Kathleen Gleed, senior director of admissions and chief diversity officer at UC Davis GSM, getting to know the school is essential – especially if you want to impress the school’s admissions committee:  

“Web research is a good start, but our students, faculty, alumni and staff are eager to talk with prospective students about their own experience at UC Davis,” Gleed says. Read on to learn more about the MBA admissions process at UC Davis…

Kathleen Gleed, UC Davis GSM What is the typical acceptance rate to the UC Davis MBA program?

Our acceptance rate for our full‐time MBA program averages 27%.

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

Our admissions team is focused on ensuring that our graduates are successful in the classroom and in their careers. We are looking for individuals who will make a difference in their organization, their community and the world. Our admissions committee team interviews candidates to ensure that they have strong communication skills, work well in teams, can think strategically and set - and achieve - worthwhile goals.

What is a common mistake you see applicants make?

Every year we see candidates who make decisions about which programs to apply to and where to attend without really getting to know UC Davis and our community. We see more and more candidates who rely solely on the web for their information. Web research is a good start, but our students, faculty, alumni and staff are eager to talk with prospective students about their own experience at UC Davis. We strongly encourage candidates to take advantage of the many opportunities we offer to get to know our community, such as class visits, alumni mixers, information sessions, distinguished speaker events and faculty presentations. This is much more than a degree; it is a lifelong investment in a powerful network – both professionally and personally.

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

I’d like to see candidates be true to themselves on the application and to have fun with the process. We designed a new question this year, in which they introduce themselves to their potential classmates via a tweet, Vine video, Prezi or PowerPoint slide. This has given our admissions team a wonderful opportunity to see the creativity and personality of our candidates in a different dimension.

What does the UC Davis MBA application process look like?

We have four deadlines throughout the application cycle. Once an application becomes complete, it is screened. Applications are read by two members of our admissions team to evaluate academics (previous coursework and test scores), career potential (résumé and recommendations), and fit for the program (essays, interview, and supplemental information). The admissions team collaborates with our career development director to ensure each candidate’s career potential is reasonable and achievable. If the candidate meets our minimum criteria, he or she will be invited to interview by a member of our admissions team. When they visit campus for their interviews, we also like to give candidates an opportunity to meet other members of our community in class visits, faculty one‐on‐ones, etc.

How can a candidate overcome a lower GMAT score?

Test scores are a good indication of success in the core courses, but they are only one aspect of our application. We use the highest test score, so candidates can re‐take the GMAT if they believe they can achieve a more competitive score. Some candidates also complete additional quantitative coursework to both prepare for the MBA coursework and to strengthen their applications.

MBA admissions tips

Essay(s): Ensure that you have answered the prompt and are succinct in your response. We ask for the information that we believe is important in evaluating each candidate. That is the information we would like you to write about. If you have other information to share with us, include it in the optional essay. Writing skills are extremely important in your career, and a well‐written essay stands out for the admissions committee.

Interview: Treat the interview like you would a career interview. Dress appropriately and be prepared to give a succinct, high‐level overview of your career achievements. Most importantly, relax and be yourself. We want to build a relationship with you and, in so doing, you will be able to assess if UC Davis is a good fit for you.

Letters of recommendation: If at all possible, meet with the person to ask if they will write you a letter of recommendation. Share your résumé and a brief explanation of why you have decided to pursue your MBA.

CV/résumé: Use your résumé to highlight achievements and accomplishments instead of just listing your responsibilities. It should highlight all the positions you’ve held and your educational background, not present an exhaustive list of everything you’ve ever done.

School visit: We strongly encourage candidates to schedule an appointment to visit a class and meet with one of our admissions directors. With advance notice, we will set up time for you to meet with current students - our MBA ambassadors - to experience the culture and community of the UC Davis MBA program.

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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