Duke University's Fuqua School of Business (Fuqua Full-Time MBA Profile) in Durham, N.C., accepted 24 percent of its 3,506 applicants in 2010.Fuqua Admissions Director Megan Lynam (MeganLynam), herself a Fuqua MBA grad, says her team is looking for well-rounded individuals with great leadership potential.Recently, during a live chat event, she fielded questions from Bloomberg Businessweek reporter Francesca Di Meglio (FrancescaBW) and an audience of prospective students about how to shine in the application process. Here are edited excerpts from their conversation.
sabindj: When is the next round of applications for the full-time MBA program?
MeganLynam: Our full-time program begins each August. We are in the process of finalizing our application deadlines for the next recruiting year. These [dates] will be posted in the next month, and our application will be available in mid-July. We are also still accepting applications for our Cross Continent MBA program, which begins in August, and our Master of Management Studies (MMS) program, beginning in July, if you would like to learn more about those programs.
rianagia: I am currently an undergrad at Penn State, and I'm graduating a year early. I am applying to grad school right out of undergrad. I was hoping to get some advice as to my chances for admission without any work experience.
MeganLynam: The Master of Management Studies program is actually a perfect program for someone considering a master's degree in business. It is a one-year, pre-experience program that builds your foundational skills in business to jump-start your career.
SSmith: How much access do students have to professors? Are there specific programs to foster these relationships?
MeganLynam: The engagement of professors with the student body is one of the reasons that I personally selected Fuqua. Our faculty members are incredible researchers, but they are also completely dedicated to their students. It is not uncommon to find them walking the team rooms the night before a big exam or assignment to lend support and guidance. They are also involved in student activities. For example, they act as judges in our annual Brand Challenge and Fuqua Idol contests.
CrystalBrown: What kind of student is happy here? And what kind isn't?
MeganLynam: Fuqua students are engaged, collaborative, and excited to learn from their faculty and fellow classmates alike. There is a strong sense of stewardship here as well. We want students to get involved in clubs, activities, student government, to learn by doing, to give back to the school and to others with their time and energy, and to leave a legacy here and beyond. On the flip side, a person who would not fit in well here is someone who is highly individualistic, or does not value diversity, and avoids team interaction.
Espy0301: Are students able to choose more than one concentration?
MeganLynam: Absolutely. Students are able to select up to two concentrations. Some students will pursue two, some one, and some will not complete a concentration at all. Our goal is to prepare you for your first job after the MBA, but also for your full career. Careers, these days, rarely follow a linear path. Thus, we have defined a flexible curriculum that allows you to focus on the global context for business and business fundamentals in the initial terms, while having the opportunity to customize the remaining year and a half of your studies.
CLTaft: Are there any online information sessions coming up about the Cross Continent program?
MeganLynam: The window of time to apply for the Cross Continent program is actually quite short. We would be delighted to connect with you personally to share more information about the program. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SirPipes: Where do graduates tend to find their first jobs after Fuqua? Do many American students find jobs overseas or is it more of a regional recruitment?
MeganLynam: With our global initiative to be embedded and connected to the market-defining economies across the globe, we have seen increased interest from all our students, American and otherwise (more than 35 percent of our students are international in the full-time MBA program), in international opportunities. Our regional offices, study-abroad programs, and Global Academic Travel Experiences (GATE) give our students an opportunity to truly understand and engage with other areas of the world. Often these engagements result in career opportunities.
essaysnark: What types of student are best suited for the Cross Continent MBA?
MeganLynam: Our Cross Continent MBA program is demographically quite similar to our full-time MBA program. Students generally have a minimum of three years of work experience with an average of seven years. It is a perfect program for those who have a global focus for their current or future career goals, and who are on a strong trajectory in their current roles such that they do not want to step off the career ladder for two years to return to school.
Espy0301: Do you have an early decision process, where if a student was certain she would like to attend Fuqua she could apply early to better her chances of getting accepted?
MeganLynam: Yes, we have an early action round each year for the full-time MBA program. If you are certain that Fuqua is the right fit for you, this is a great option as you will hear from us prior to year's end. However, the early action round is binding, so if you apply, you commit to attending if you are admitted.
RBII: Have the dates for the Workshop for Minority Applicants been set yet?
MeganLynam: Yes, it is the weekend before the Thanksgiving holiday.
Dimple: I have 12 years of industry experience and my background is in chemical engineering. I am thinking of pursuing an MBA with a concentration in international business. Do you have requirements to work/live abroad in your program?
MeganLynam: The full-time (Daytime) MBA program does not have a requirement to live or work abroad; however, many of our students have done this, and the vast majority of our students seize the opportunity to engage in one of our international programs during their time at Fuqua. Additionally, our Global Executive and Cross Continent MBA programs are inherently global. They allow you to continue to work, and to connect with your classmates and professors during residencies around the world (Dubai, Delhi, Shanghai, London, St. Petersburg).
goesto11: What's the advantage of Fuqua's Cross Continent program over other schools? Won't I learn about global business in any school's MBA program?
MeganLynam: This is a great program, and one we could spend hours talking about. It is the premise of Fuqua's global initiative. We don't think you can sit in the U.S. and truly understand global business issues and challenges. We have regional teams on the ground in our global locations to embed our programs in the culture and business environment in each of these locations. Multi-term courses teach students a framework to understand the cultural, government, and societal influences on business, and how it varies as you move through your residencies around the world.
Espy0301: If a student is changing careers and does not have much quant experience, what suggestions do you have to help them stand out throughout the application process?
MeganLynam: The admissions committee is seeking to understand your quantitative aptitude, not necessarily proven quantitative work experience. We will look to your GMAT, in addition to undergraduate and any postgraduate quantitative coursework and on-the-job experience. Our classes are quantitatively rigorous, and we want to ensure that you will be successful. We always encourage those with less quantitative experience to consider taking courses such as finance, accounting, economics, and statistics. A college-level calculus course with a passing grade is required for matriculation.
RBII: Sources point to Fuqua graduates being hit hard by the recession and the lack of available job opportunities. How has Duke responded and has this issue improved?
MeganLynam: We're actually proud of what we consider a diversified portfolio. Because of the strength of our faculty and research centers across disciplines, we attract students who are interested in a wide array of future careers. As a result, we have strong alumni and corporate contacts across industries and functions, and despite the weak economy over the past several years we have continued to have strong success with career opportunities. At the time of graduation this year, almost 90 percent of our students had job offers in hand.
mm2011: I saw that the average age for the EMBA program (Fuqua EMBA Profile) was 39 with about 15 years' experience. Would somebody younger with less experience (say, five- to eight-year range) have a much more difficult time being accepted?
MeganLynam: We also have a diversified portfolio of programs. We are committed to educating the business leaders of the future, and people choose to pursue their business degree at all different points in their career. As such, we have our Daytime program, our MMS program, and three programs for working professionals. I described the Cross Continent program earlier. The Global Executive program is the one you are referencing. It is similar in format to the Cross Continent MBA, with global residencies, but the students are more seasoned in their careers and are typically leading business units or companies. The Weekend Executive program is designed for those with five or more years' experience, with time spent managing people, projects, and/or budgets. It is based at our campus in Durham, where students come together every other weekend.
jmo2k3: Do you plan to offer optional interviews before the regular interview invite season?
MeganLynam: The Daytime MBA program will offer an open interview season from Sept. 15 to Oct. 14. After that time, interviews will be by invitation only. We will open registration for campus visits and interviews later in the summer. I encourage you to join our mailing list so we can notify you as soon as the registration is available.
DNA2012: I would like to know how Duke MBA students who do not want a typical career path such as consulting or general management find opportunities? For example, if I want to pursue a management role at an art organization, how should I be planning my two years at Duke?
MeganLynam: There are a number of resources available to our students to support their career development. The Daytime program starts off with career workshops, company presentations on campus, and full-day symposiums that focus on specific industries and functions. This will allow you to understand how to position your existing experience, understand your strengths and interests, and make a plan for your career development. Our Career Management Center has counselors focused on specific industries, functions, and regions, and our second-year "Career Fellows" are also available to first-year students as mentors. Our alumni come to campus to support the various symposiums and conferences, volunteer to do mock interviews, post job listings at their companies, and act as a connection point for students interested in learning about their specific company or career path. In addition, our research centers are deeply connected to both the academic and the applied aspects of working in a specific field. In your case, I would encourage you to investigate the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship, or CASE, which would be an excellent resource for someone interested in working in a business capacity in an arts-focused organization.
essaysnark: What is the average GMAT/GPA for students accepted to the Cross Continent program?
MeganLynam: The middle 80 percent is 540 to 720. For all of our programs, though, we look at the whole package. We do not screen on GMAT or GPA. We are interested in who you are overall and what you have to contribute to our classroom and community.
Damola01: How can a candidate differentiate himself to the admissions committee?
MeganLynam: We genuinely want to get a sense of who you are. Our essay questions are targeted at understanding what drives you, what you aspire to be, and how Fuqua is tied to that. Be yourself, be passionate, and let us get to know you.
Espy0301: If you applied early action and are accepted, does that improve your financial aid package? Can you talk a little more about financial aid through Fuqua?
MeganLynam: Students in early action are not treated any differently from those applying in other rounds for financial aid. All applicants are considered for merit-based aid. We evaluate merit based on your full application, not just your academic background. We encourage you to apply as early in the process as possible without sacrificing the quality of your application. If scholarship funds are important for you, we encourage you to apply in early action, Round 1, or Round 2.
nickwah22: If I wanted to do an exchange program, I would miss a semester at Fuqua. While abroad, are there services provided by the career center to assist with job placement? What are some reasons students choose to participate in the exchange program?
MeganLynam: We are on a quarter system, so students may elect to study abroad for a quarter or a semester. Many choose to study abroad for only a quarter, hence it does not have as much of an impact on their career planning. Others will elect to do our GATE or Global Consulting Practicum programs, as they are conducted during breaks rather than the terms. In addition, a number of our students elect to do one of these international engagements as a part of their career research and networking if they would like to work globally.
jmo2k3: Do you have any statistics that would be useful to future applicants concerning the most recent admissions cycle?
MeganLynam: We are very excited about our incoming class. Our global initiative has allowed us to attract the best and brightest from an even wider range of countries across the world. We have, as we have for many years, a great representation of women and minorities in our incoming class and a broad array of industry and functional backgrounds.
To discuss Duke Fuqua admissions or anything business school-related, you can join the conversations already happening on the Bloomberg Businessweek Business Schools Forum.