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Admissions Director Q&A: Becky Gallagher, University of Bath School of Management

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We head to the UK, just outside of London, for our Admissions Director Q&A with Becky Gallagher, Head of MBA Admissions and Recruitment at the University of Bath School of Management.

Becky has worked within the University for over 20 years, spending time in the Students’ Union where she oversaw student development and leadership programs. She has worked in the role of Head of MBA Recruitment and Admissions since January 2021 and has built an impressive network of connections globally. Becky loves nothing more than taking a student through the journey from pre-applicant stage right through to becoming an alumni.

“It’s a wonderfully rewarding role, seeing the transformative effects our program and the experiences at Bath can have on an individual and their career,” she says. “The personal connections we have with our students and alumni is palpable and it’s a privilege to be a part of their personal and professional growth. These connections underpin our purpose and drive us to ensure that the service our applicants receive is true to our ethos: Professional. Practical. Personal.”

Read on for her insights into the MBA admissions process this year, from writing essays to interview prep to testing guidelines and more.

Becky Gallagher, Head of MBA Admissions and Recruitment, University of Bath School of Management

Clear Admit: What is the one aspect of your program that you wish applicants knew more about?

Becky Gallagher: Starting an MBA journey goes beyond just pursuing education; it’s a strategic decision that has the potential to redefine your professional path. We see from day one the ambition and drive that brings professionals to study an MBA at Bath and we can see the significant outcomes this brings in terms of career and salary.

What often gets overlooked is the profound impact an MBA has on an individual level. Throughout the MBA program, students are prompted to reassess their motivations and values, engaging in a deep exploration of their personal and professional aspirations. This introspection helps them align their goals with their intrinsic values, leading to more purposeful and satisfying life choices that extend beyond the workplace.

CA: Walk us through the life of an application in the Bath admissions office from an operational standpoint. What happens between the time an applicant clicks “submit” and the time the committee offers a final decision?

BG: We understand that applicants to our program are incredibly busy people, often juggling multiple roles and commitments, so we aim to make the process as smooth and streamlined as possible. We encourage applicants to get in touch with us before they start the process so that we can provide support and advice. We pride ourselves on offering a bespoke service for our MBA candidates and want to make sure that their experience at Bath is second to none, right from the start. 

When a candidate submits their application, our admissions team will check the documentation thoroughly and invite the applicant to book an online one-to-one interview with us. The interviews can be booked up to 3 weeks in advance allowing time to prepare whilst reflecting further on their ambitions and motivations for undertaking the Bath MBA. The interview is an important part of the process for us as it gives us a chance to really get to know the applicant and how we can help them to achieve their goals.

The Admissions Committee meet weekly so within 7 working days of the interview, the candidate will know if they have an offer to study with us. 

CA: How does your Bath admissions team approach the essay portion of the application specifically? What are you looking for as you read an essay? Are there common mistakes that applicants should try to avoid? What is one key thing they should keep in mind as they sit down to write?

BG: We have set questions that we ask all applicants to complete, ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to shine. Each question reflects the skills or attributes we expect to see in an applicant. We encourage them to explore their reasons and aspirations for pursuing an MBA.

We see frequently that successful applications draw on specific experiences to exemplify their skills and knowledge but we also welcome honest reflections of areas for future growth. We want to hear their own voice, so if they use AI to help write their answers, we expect them to check back over the answer and make sure that it aligns accurately with their beliefs and values. We expect our applicants to be able to tell us what selection criteria they have used when choosing their preferred MBA course and provide an insight into what their career journey looks like now and in the future.

Finally, it’s important to take your time on an application, to follow the instructions provided and adhere to the word limit for each question.

CA: Could you tell us about the Bath MBA admissions interview process? Approximately how many applicants do you interview? Who conducts the interview (students, admissions officers, alumni) and what is the nature of the interview (resume-based, application-based, behavioral)? Will your admissions interviews be in-person or virtual for the 2024-2025 admissions season?

BG: We offer candidates a choice of interviewer from the recruitment team. This can help to alleviate the stress often associated with this part of the process and ensure that the interview itself is as successful as it can be. We aim to interview as many applications as we can and usually offer one-to-one interviews to around half of all applicants.

The interviewer will read all the supporting statements submitted by the applicant in advance, allowing them to prepare accordingly. During the interview, which is around 40 minutes, we have set questions we ask which are based on the candidate’s experiences and their reflections on these experiences. We will also discuss career aspirations. 

Applicants are encouraged to also ask us questions. We understand it’s a life-changing decision, so we want to make sure that candidates are well-informed and supported in joining us. Whilst we would love to interview in-person, most of our interviews take place via Teams. We encourage anyone considering the Bath MBA to visit us when in the UK and can usually arrange for them to meet some of our team, current students, or alumni whilst here. 

CA: What is your testing policy? Do you offer exam waivers? Why or why not?

BG: We are looking for motivated candidates with drive, talent and potential. We want our students to take what they’ve learnt and use it to make a significant contribution both in the classroom and in the global community. As such, we take a broader, more holistic view of applications and consider testing alongside other qualifications and experiences. 

Whilst we welcome candidates with a GMAT score, applicants do not need GMAT to apply.

We have English language requirements which are mandatory for most applicants, although in most cases they do not need to provide these prior to interview.

CA: In the application data form, many schools ask for information about work experience, activities, hobbies, and much more. What advice would you give to applicants as they approach this component of the application process? 

BG: We want to understand the applicants’ own experiences and reflections, so being honest and thinking about real examples will help. Read over your application before submitting it – make sure it sounds like you and truly reflects your values and beliefs, even if you have used AI to help write it. Our set questions have word limits, so pay attention to these.

We want to hear about what motivates the applicant outside of work commitments, so any experiences they have in volunteering, or if they belong to a sports team, or maybe they enjoy travel – let us know! We will be asking about this during the interview too, as we want to get a rounded view of each applicant.

CA: Is there anything else you’d like to highlight about your MBA program or Bath admissions process?

BG: We understand that students who come to us may be on a journey of career exploration so align our academic teaching to a tailored development and career program. Whether candidates know the career path they would like to take or not, our specialized career support team will help to increase focus and clarity. One-to-one coaching, mentoring and workshops will help to maximize career potential, whilst our dedicated careers service can help with finding a role after an MBA.

We encourage all applicants to book a one-to-one conversation with us before submitting their application. We can answer any questions they have, guide them through the application process, and most importantly put them at their ease prior to interview. All our team are professional and friendly, and we genuinely want to get to know each candidate individually so we can help them on their journey onto our MBA program.

The Bath MBA combines the latest teaching techniques with practical projects. Our students learn from academics who are experts in their fields. This will give students a firm grounding in the fundamental areas of leadership and business. Their leading research keeps the content fresh and relevant, enriching the learning experience. Through our distinctive Multi-Project Suite, students are able to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to real business situations.

Student wellbeing and success on our program is paramount and our dedicated Student Support Team play a pivotal role in ensuring students have a positive and enriching experience at Bath. This includes offering a free confidential advice service, academic and personal support as well as numerous networking opportunities and social events to help students enjoy life beyond the classroom.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.