Business Schools

Fuqua: A Personalized Experience


Nearly 2,400 people applied to Duke University's Fuqua School of Business (No. 11 on BusinessWeek's 2004 list of top MBA programs) in Durham, N.C. The school accepted approximately 37% of applicants, and about 45% of those enrolled in the program. Although the daytime MBA program tends to get more attention, Duke has a vibrant and growing EMBA program that has equally competitive admission standards, says Kelli Kilpatrick, director of EMBA admissions at Fuqua.

She recently joined Liz Riley, director of admissions for the daytime MBA program, to field questions from audience members and BusinessWeek Online's Francesca Di Meglio and Jack Dierdorff. Here's an edited transcript:

Q: How is application volume this year? Any disadvantage to round-three applicants?

Riley: Applications for the first two rounds were up by 16%. The round-three application deadline was Jan. 31, 2005. So far, it looks like we will be down ever so slightly. We will, however, admit applicants from each round of decisions.

Q: Does Duke have an upper age limit for the daytime MBA?

Riley: Absolutely not. We actually have a student in our program who is in his 60s. He is an amazing person who has already had a very interesting career and is now interested in making a change.

Q: What advice do you have for daytime MBA applicants regarding interviews?

Riley: Honestly, you don't have to be anyone other than who you are. Our objective in the interview process is to learn more about you, your goals, and whether there is a good fit between your ambitions and the core values of the Fuqua community. Fuqua is a place where students have the ability to become involved in a wide range of activities. We want students who want to make a positive impact not only on their chosen professions but also in their communities.

My advice would be to highlight the activities you have been involved with that would make that connection for the interviewer. At the end of the day, it should feel like a conversation during which you can tell your story and explain what differentiates you from the applicant pool.

Q: How much weight is placed on the GMAT in the admission process? For example, how competitive is 690 compared with 770?

Riley: Don't you just love the GMAT? Honestly, it depends on what the rest of your application looks like. The admissions committee doesn't just care about your test scores. It is only one component in an evaluation process that includes undergraduate grades, work experience, essays, recommendations, community involvement, and the interview.

No one factor carries heavier weight than the others. We care as much about your work experience and community involvement as we do about your GMAT score. Now, what this means is that a 690 is just as competitive as a 770 if you've got great recommendations, you are a leader in your community, and have excellent interpersonal skills.

Q: What is the basis of selection of candidates from the wait-list?

Riley: All candidates who are wait-listed will be reviewed in each subsequent round of admission decisions. When we review the applications of wait-listed candidates, we will first look at any new information. After reviewing this information, we will reevaluate the applicant compared to the current round of applications that have been submitted since the initial wait list decision.

The bottom line: It's not a bad thing to be on the wait-list. We encourage all wait-listed candidates to hang in there and keep us informed about any changes or updates.

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