Spotting the Schulich Spark

York University B-school's head of student services says she looks for highly motivated, articulate, and creative applicants

Charmaine Courtis is executive director of student services and international relations at the York University Schulich School of Business (second tier on BusinessWeek's 2004 list of top international MBA programs). Before assuming her current role in 1999, Courtis served in a similar post at York for six years before being promoted.

Courtis recently spoke with BusinessWeek Online reporter Jeffrey Gangemi. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation:

Q: What trends do you see with applications to B-school?


I'm optimistic. What's happened in Canada is not dissimilar to what has happened in the U.S. However, there's substantial interest from the local community in our school, and part of that has to do with how well we're doing in the rankings and our reputation. I see good signs in the market.

Q: What's the admissions schedule?


We have rolling admissions. We do offer deadlines, especially to give international students enough time to complete their physical exam and visa process. The first deadline for the September entry point is Feb. 1. If you make that deadline, then you're automatically considered for scholarship money. But you have until May 1 to apply. For our January entry point, we also have a winter deadline date, which is Sept. 1 for our international students and Oct. 1 for domestic students.

Q: How is your program structured?


We have two entry points. Most students complete our program in 16 months -- four consecutive semesters, but they don't have to. Some do two semesters, leave for a work term or an internship, and then come back. We've always tried to look at the market and find ways to innovate. We offer full-time, part-time, and weekend MBA programs. Many of our elective classes include both part- and full-time students, and we schedule those classes for the evenings or weekends.

Q: What's your average for the GMAT, and how do you weigh it?


It's an important indicator because it helps us sort out analytical skills and language skills. If someone's first language is not English, then we'll consider 550 and above. If their first language is English, then we'll look at 600 and above. Our average is consistently 650. The quantitative score is an important part of the test for us because applicants come from different backgrounds, and it's important for them to have some aptitude quantitatively to be successful in their first year of business school.

Q: Do you require interviews?


No, but we do consider them to be important. Members of my staff, as well as traveling faculty, are able to interview most of our international applicants. We prefer a face-to-face interview, but we will do phone interviews when necessary.

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