A Talk with Carnegie Mellon's Admissions Director

Says Laurie Stewart, executive director of masters admissions: Take the time to explain why you're getting an MBA

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BusinessWeek Online's guest on Aug. 20 for a live chat was Laurie Stewart, executive director of masters admissions at Carnegie Mellon University's Graduate School of Industrial Administration, No. 19 in (BusinessWeek's 2002 rankings) of the Top 30 B-Schools.

Stewart attended the GSIA and subsequently was its assistant dean for student affairs. Since 1994, she has led the school's MBA admissions operation as well as its financial aid office. Stewart spoke with BusinessWeek Online reporter Mica Schneider about this year's admissions environment. Here's an edited transcript of their conversation:

Q: How does your team judge an applicant's undergraduate record?


We don't. We look at the applicant's entire profile. We look at what [undergraduate] program they were in, at which university. About half of the students we admit [into our full-time MBA program] are from technical backgrounds.

We look at the courses applicants did well in and in which courses they weren't as strong. We're trying to find trends in [the person's] academics over time. Did they make difficult choices?

Because of the analytical and quantitative nature of our program, we look for evidence on the academic profile that shows they have an aptitude or potential for studying here. When someone joins the program, they have to have had one semester of calculus and a second math course. A few are admitted without a lot of math.

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