Tepper School Tightens Up the Rolls

The Tepper School of Business has reduced the size of its full-time class, making the admissions process more competitive. So what does it take to get in?

Laurie Stewart knows a lot about what makes the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh stand out. In addition to serving as the current executive director of Master's Admissions, she has worked for the school since 1991, and she earned her MBA there in 1987. In between graduating and returning, she worked for General Motors (GM ).

Stewart says the students who take the time to look within themselves to fully understand their goals -- and how Tepper can help them -- tend to fare well in the application process. She recently spoke with BusinessWeek Online project assistant Meredith Bodgas about what Tepper has to offer and who the school hopes to include in next year's class. An edited version of their conversation follows:

Are you seeing more applications than in the recent past?

We just had our first application deadline on Nov. 14, and our applications are up from last year. The MBA job market has shown some positive trends in the last couple of years, and I think that has been encouraging to candidates.

Tepper has application deadlines in November, January, March, and May. Is there a best time to apply?

You need to apply when your application is ready. Sometimes candidates feel like rushing to make an early deadline, but if they wait for the next one, they could put more time into polishing their application. The most important factor in our admission decision is the quality of the content, rather than when we receive the application. We have space through all of our rounds for candidates to be offered admission.

What's new at Tepper?

We received a landmark gift from David Tepper that named the school a couple of years ago. Last year two of our faculty members were recipients of the Nobel Prize (see BW Online, 11/10/05, "Heard on Campus"). We have a new track for the class that's entering in 2006 called Technology Leadership, which gives students the chance to earn an MBA while enhancing their technical skills through coursework in Carnegie Mellon's world-renowned school of computer science.

How have admissions standards changed over the past few years?

Two years ago, we reduced the size of our full-time class...

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