How To Get Into An Elite EMBA Program

by Jeff Schmitt on

Berkeley's Haas School of Business

Berkeley’s Haas School of Business is known for its entrepreneurship programs

The Importance of Region and Career Path to Your Choice

If your foreseeable professional plans are West Coast centric, then UCLA may be your best choice (especially given the additional commute and tuition penalty). But if your startup plans are truly scaleable and global in focus, then you may find a Wharton EMBA justifies its added cost in terms of the doors it opens and credibility it confers. Certainly Wharton’s strengthened presence in the Bay Area/Silicon Valley should weigh into your thinking given your plans to approach VCs.

The Best Schools for Entrepreneurs

For entrepreneurs I would recommend EMBAs connected with Silicon Valley or other entrepreneurial and venture capital hubs, like Boston and New York. So look at programs like the UC Berkeley/Columbia executive program (Editor’s note: The schools split ways in 2013 and run independent EMBA programs), or Columbia and NYU’s standalone EMBA programs. Also consider programs like IE in Spain or Babson’s Fast-Track MBA, which are noted from entrepreneurship. (Editor’s Note: In a later post, Bodine also recommends the University of North Carolina and Babson College).

The Value Schools Place on Growing a Small Business

*All* top EMBA programs would value your entrepreneurial success…EMBA admission is much more of a resume-driven game, so outsized professional success like yours, combined with evidence of large-scale leadership in multiple parts of your life, are 80% of the process. So if the actual team you lead at your company is small, you would hopefully have extracurricular leadership to enhance the leadership message.

The Value Schools Place on Undergraduate Grades

Luckily for you, undergrad GPA is less important for EMBA applicants, especially if you can show a high GMAT score, can explain the GPA, and have post-degree evidence (which you do) that you’re strong in the areas that dragged you down. EMBA admission is all about the resume and the degree to which managerial experience and responsibility jumps off it.

How to Cope with a Bad Interview

It sounds to me that you ran into an issue over the interview and little else. Don’t worry. What you find in MBA admissions is what you find in life: there are a lot of random and uncontrolled things that can go wrong and can prevent you from achieving your goals. But realize that there are many very good EMBA programs out there–just as there are many other opportunities in life waiting. The key here is to pick yourself up and move on. Apply to another school with a top-ranked EMBA and I think you’ll see a different outcome.

What Adcoms Want to Hear about Management Experience and Career Goals

This is basically a goals essay. They want to know how the experience of leadership or of expanding responsibility in your own career has changed your sense of your own potential and your specific post-MBA goals. For example, perhaps earlier in your career your goals were more technical and now you have confidence that you can aspire to senior management. It’s also possible to say that, no, your post-MBA goals have always been the same — then describe them. Either way, aside from describing your post-MBA goals, you could also talk about how you have found that you enjoy managing others — and provide brief examples of your leadership effectiveness

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  • Kathleen Brennan

    Great article… I start EMBA at MIT next month; valuable advice here for applicants. Thanks

  • chris

    I am 48 years old. I might not start an EMBA until I am 49 or even 50. Am I too old for such a program?

    • JohnAByrne

      Definitely not. You’ll find a good number of people in their late 40s and early 50s in these programs. It’s a great time to think of an EMBA as a way to refresh your career, give yourself a generous gift of new knowledge and friends, and to bring to bear all the wonderful experience you’ve had to date. Go for it.

  • Great article. I work with EMBA clients, helping them get in to the most competitive programs and offer free initial consultations: http://www.MBAIvyLeague.com

  • creatureji

    I am 31 years and currently pursuing EMBA @Kellogg .. My undergrad grades weren’t that great, but I spent significant amount of time starting and selling web businesses..

    I find EMBA @ Kellogg really amazing and so far it allowed me to talk and network with people and put together team to start new venture.

    F/T MBA programs are different from EMBA, and someone with 15+ years of experience shouldn’t quit work to be with F/T MBA students, other then intellectual power F/T students lack experience on what steps required to put together talented people to execute a plan which in returns generate profit.

    My advise for aspiring EMBA candidates is to have flavor of what they want to achieve in life, be laser focused and frame your ideas in structured way. This will help you connect with people who will understand you better and propel to the levels you want.

    Networking is always tricky, believe in what you want to do and don’t shy away of thoughts about what others will think off you… Speak your mind in social gathering and approach people fearlessly.

    • Julio Cardenas

      Hi, Pundit any admission tips for the Kellogg EMBA? That’s the program I intend to apply for. Thank you

      • pundit420

        several tips.. but I narrow down to top 3 from my experience and what I saw in the program..

        1) Do know your future plans and reflect it on your application as how it related to your past, current and program/ people can guide you.. I was more interested in gaining industry perspective from seasoned executives and thoughts about IT in finance.

        You will meet with some of the Top professors in all of US and I was lucky to meet with someone who enabled me start new venture.

        2) References, have your manager write strong reference letter for you, your accomplishment and how you can progress thru the ranks with this EMBA.

        It’s important because (in my opinion) EMBA students are expected to create own career path/find new job and not rely on career centre.. however they will support you

        3) Students love lively debates inside or outside classroom and what surprised me is ability to complete work and get time for outings/social life… I struggled first few months but learned techniques from them.

        You should also reflect on your application on how you can contribute to the class, stories from your experience in travel, projects, social work, entrepreneurship… opportunities…. More important..

        Not sure about other schools,, but most of the students have no ego.. they driven by instincts / intuition developed from years of experience/knowledge or from personal stories. It’s important you share some examples in interview which shows you have no ego and willing to work with someone even you don’t get along with.

        • Julio Cardenas

          Thank you very much for your useful advice. I’ll keep it in mind when I send my application. My best wishes for your endeavors.

  • Paul Davidsung

    Interesting commentary . I am thankful for the specifics , Does someone know if my company could possibly acquire a fillable OPM OF-306 version to type on ?

    • Ava Cueto

      Greetings Paul Davidsung ! my business partner got ahold of a blank OPM OF-306 document with this link http://goo.gl/pUkJXK

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