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MBA Admissions Brief: Duke / Fuqua

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This edition of MBA Admissions Brief takes us to Durham, North Carolina, where Associate Dean of Admissions, Shari Hubert, walks us through opportunities and features of the MBA at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Shari Hubert, Associate Dean of Admissions

Hubert is responsible for overseeing recruitment and admissions for Fuqua’s Daytime MBA, Weekend Executive MBA, Global Executive MBA, and four Specialty Masters’ Degree Programs. Prior to Fuqua, she was in charge of admissions for the Full-time and Evening MBA programs at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

Read on for her advice about the Duke MBA admissions process and exciting features of the program.

What would you say to someone who’s applying next fall and just getting started in the MBA application process now?

  • Think about what’s important to you in an MBA program, and tailor your questions accordingly, instead of only asking “what’s unique about your program” or “how does X program differ from Y program”  Every top MBA program will have similarities and things unique to their culture – the important question is what’s important to you and what are you hoping to get out of your MBA, that will allow you to better compare programs and have a good basis for conversations with the various representatives you meet across the different schools (Admissions, students, alumni etc…) throughout the process
  • We look for applicants who really understand our culture, can see themselves thriving here and demonstrate that they have taken the genuine time to get to know us throughout the application process, and therefore really want to be part of our unique community.
  • Give yourself plenty of time. There is often a lot of soul searching that can happen in the application process and you don’t want to feel rushed with your essays. You want to give yourself time to process and think through the best representation of who you are and why an MBA will help you accomplish your goals.
  • I’d also advise making sure you build in time to visit the schools on your shortlist. This is especially important at Fuqua, if you can swing it.  You learn so much from being on campus and interacting with students and staff.  Our signature Campus Visit program will start again in the early Fall so lookout for information on our website to register.  If you feel as if you’re well prepared by the beginning of September or if you plan to apply in our Early Action Round, then take advantage of our Open interview season.
  • We have started traveling this summer so check our calendar of events and meet us on the road.
  • Reach out to our alumni, in your current work place or via your network
  • Plan to join us for our various diversity weekends this Fall, 2019 – The Duke MBA Veteran’s Symposium (Oct 10-12) The Duke MBA Women’s Leadership Conference (Oct 31-Nov 2), The Duke MBA LGBTQ Weekend (Dec 5-7), The Duke MBA Workshop (Nov 21- 23) to test out the MBA, gain a first-hand experience of our culture and begin to build your network.

What’s the one thing MBA candidates should know about selecting a recommender?
I’m not sure there’s just one thing.

  • As with any recommendation, it matters more how well the recommender knows you, rather than the title or the fact that the recommender is an alumnus.
  • It is also helpful to know if any of the schools you are applying to participate in the common letter of recommendation. If they do, like we do at Fuqua, it will help alleviate some of the work for recommenders you choose to write recommendations for you across multiple schools.
  • Take the time to give your recommender ample notice – I like to advise at least 3 months, and provide an early deadline for him or her, in case they need the additional time.
  • Meet with them in advance over coffee to share your goals and rationale for the MBA and the schools you’ve selected to apply to, so that they have sufficient context when writing your recommendation.
  • It’s also fine to remind them of your accomplishments and areas that you hope to shore up in school so that they can provide a positive, yet constructive recommendation. Oh, and do confirm their willingness to write a positive recommendation – don’t assume!
  • Check in with them on a monthly basis and then closer to the deadline a final time.
  • Finally, if you choose a recommender that is not your current or former supervisor, or in line with the requirements of the school, make sure to use the optional essay to explain your rationale so that the Admissions Committee isn’t left guessing or wrongly assuming you ignored the instructions.

What’s your program’s most exciting change, development or event coming up in the year ahead?
Fuqua is an exciting place to be because we are constantly innovating to make sure we are producing the kind of leaders needed to succeed in business today. In many ways business leadership has never been more complex and I think our true advantage is in the way we teach students to navigate the complexities of today. I’m really proud our faculty continues to innovate in the curriculum each year. For example, students can now go deep into business analytics and managing innovation if they choose. In addition, we have courses that focus on real world challenges leaders are facing. For example, this fall we will again offer a really popular strategy course that looks at the intersection of business and politics. We’ll also offer a “Women in Leadership” course that openly delves into challenges all genders face in the work place. It’s really the continued evolution that I find so exciting – rather than one single change or event.

Of the big trends in business education right now (tech, globalization, analytics), what are you doing or innovating in one (or all) of these spaces?
We are delighted to offer students a chance to go deep in data analytics and managing innovation with a focus on Management Science and Technology Management (MSTeM). We’ve been thrilled by how many of our students have chosen to focus in this area. We feel MBAs are uniquely positioned to lead innovation with a combination of technical competence and leadership skills cultivated in our Daytime MBA program. Our dean, Bill Boulding, often talks to leaders in places like Silicon Valley who express the belief that technology is not the limiting factor to innovation: it is leadership. Plus, for our international students earning an MBA with the MSTeM track – it comes with the added benefit of STEM-designation in the U.S. Meaning, you can work for three years in a STEM-field with your student visa while applying for the H1B visa lottery to extend that time if you desire. That has helped to provide a clearer pathway for companies who want to hire our international students.  You can find out about MSTeM in this blog.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.