MBA Admissions Q&A: University of Arizona, Eller College of Management |

MBA Admissions Q&A: University of Arizona, Eller College of Management

By Mike Grill

Updated July 25, 2019 Updated July 25, 2019

The University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management was a new entrant into QS’s 2014/15 regional MBA rankings for North America and has a relatively small class size by US accounts. A total of 41 students enrolled in the program this year, posting an average GMAT score of 654. The class of 2017 is also above the 40% threshold for female students – something that represents a huge rise on the 22.5% proportion seen in last year's entering cohort, even when accounting for the smaller class sizes.  

The Eller College’s main base is in Tucson, a little over 100 miles (160km) southeast of Arizona’s state capital, Phoenix, and just 60 miles from the US border to Mexico. The school does, however, offer its EMBA program from Phoenix as well as an option to study its part-time MBA program in what is the US’s sixth most-populous city.

Want to apply for the Eller MBA? Mike Langley, the school’s associate director of MBA admissions has some useful tips and advice in this Q&A. For one, he points out that the essay and recommendation letter requirements of the application process can really help a candidate stand out from a crowd of those considered borderline. Regarding the essays, incidentally, Langley says “the more concise they are, the more compelling they tend to be.” Read on to find out more:

Mike Langley of the University of Arizona's Eller College of Management
What is the typical acceptance rate to the Eller MBA program?

In this past cycle, our acceptance rate was under 40%. However, that can vary by the cohort. We tend to have a very competitive pool of applicants across all our programs.

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

It’s all important, since we take a holistic approach, but applicants should also focus on producing strong letters of recommendation and essays. That could set a borderline candidate apart from someone else.

What is a common mistake you see applicants make?

Applying for the wrong program is something that happens occasionally. Some of our programs are only offered in Downtown Phoenix. Others are only offered in Tucson. In addition, certain programs may only be offered during certain times of year. Make sure that you not only apply for the program you are interested in, but that you can meet each of the admissions requirements before doing so.

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

Engage with us. Whether that be in-person or electronically (e.g. via e-mail or social media), it’s important that you gather all the information possible from our platforms.

What does the Eller application process look like?

Aside from the application and fee itself, our applicants must also provide us with a résumé detailing professional accomplishments, two letters of recommendation, two essays, college transcripts, and last but not least, GMAT scores. If the student is international, we would require additional documentation. Also, should a candidate be invited to move forward, the next step would be to complete an interview with a member of the admissions committee.

How can a candidate overcome a lower GMAT score?

There’s no penalty for any applicants retaking the GMAT. In fact, we encourage you to take a practice test before submitting official scores to us. It helps to simulate the testing environment—no TV, music, or other distractions; try doing the calculations by hand. Also, some of our programs may offer a GMAT waiver, depending on the circumstances, so make sure to check with us for any of those potential options.

MBA admissions tips

Essay(s): Keep it concise. We do read each essay carefully, but the more concise they are, the more compelling they tend to be.

Interview: Be authentic. We’ll be able to tell if you are just saying things you think we want to hear.

Letter(s) of recommendation: Make sure your references know why they are writing these letters and that they can actually speak to your character and work ethic. We will contact them. It would be a mistake to use someone that you met only once just because of their title.

CV/résumé: Demonstrate your leadership potential. Whether you’re applying for our full-time or executive MBA program, it would be in your best interests to discuss any people, projects or processes that you have managed or developed. Our program is grooming you to be a business leader, but we want to see if you have these skills to begin with.

School visit: Before the visit, reach out to an alum of the program or school/college in which you’re interested in enrolling. Many of them would be happy to hear that you are considering their alma mater and could give you further insight on who to talk to and where to go. If possible, join a LinkedIn group or Facebook page associated with the program to do this initial outreach.

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

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