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MBA Applicant Spotlight: Finding Fit at Cornell / Johnson

S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management – Cornell University

The Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management is headquartered at Cornell University’s campus in Ithaca, New York.  Johnson offers two full-time MBA options as well as two executive MBA programs.  It also runs a one-year MBA program at Cornell Tech in NYC focusing on the intersection of technology and business. One hallmark of the Johnson MBA program is its immersion-learning program, through which students carry out coursework and fieldwork targeted towards a particular career or industry.  The school also places a notable emphasis on leadership, starting with the Johnson Leading Teams Practicum that all students complete in their first semester.

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Johnson employs 58 full-time and 53 visiting, part-time or adjunct faculty members specializing in 16 different disciplines.  This group of scholars and professionals directs four research centers and institutes: The Parker Center for Investment Research, the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise, the Smith Family Business Initiative, and the Emerging Markets Institute.


Johnson’s faculty and lecturers employ a variety of teaching methods, such as case studies, lectures, group projects, lab exercises and field trips.  MBA classes at Johnson typically begin in late August and end in mid-May; commencement occurs shortly thereafter.  Johnson works on a semester system, with full-time students completing coursework during the fall and spring terms, and nearly all students go on to complete a summer internship at the end of their first year.  Throughout the academic year, Johnson students have short breaks each semester for holidays such as Thanksgiving, with a longer break in between semesters.

Beginning during orientation and extending throughout the first semester, all first-year students participate in the required course entitled the Johnson Leading Teams Practicum.  In this course, which is designed to help students develop their leadership skills, MBA entrants work together in small teams of five to six students on problem-solving challenges and core course group projects.

Within the first year of study, Johnson students must complete nine core classes, taking seven in the fall term and completing the remaining two in the spring.  The core covers foundational business principles in accounting, marketing, management, operations, strategy and finance.  First-year students must also complete an immersion learning experience in the spring semester by choosing from the seven available offerings or creating their own program.  Each immersion learning experience is comprised of elective courses, site visits and case studies aimed at preparing students for post-MBA careers in fields such as Strategic Marketing, Capital Markets and Asset Management, and Sustainable Global Enterprise.

In the second year of the MBA program, students have free rein to shape their studies by choosing from the school’s more than 80 elective course offerings.  Students may further tailor their education to their career interests by pursuing up to two concentrations from a list of five breadth options and seven depth options.  Johnson also allows students to take courses at other Cornell University schools and apply them to the MBA degree.  Finally, students looking for international exposure can spend a semester studying abroad at one of Johnson’s nearly 30 exchange partner institutions.

Other MBA Degree Options

In addition to its 21-month full-time MBA program, Johnson offers a one-year accelerated MBA degree option for applicants who have already obtained a graduate degree in the technology or science fields or are applying to a dual degree program at Cornell.  Students in this program complete a ten-week summer term, followed by two additional semesters of coursework.  In July 2013, Johnson also launched a one-year MBA program at Cornell Tech in NYC designed to teach the fundamentals of business in the context of its role in today’s global digital economy. This program begins on the Ithaca campus in May, where students complete a 10-week summer term that includes orientation, core business courses, leadership training, innovation and entrepreneurial work, and professional development work. This is followed by fall and winter semesters on the NYC Cornell Tech campus, where students take courses like Digital Marketing, Connective Media and Social Entrepreneurship. In addition, students have the opportunity to put their coursework into practice through projects with NYC tech companies. Johnson also offers six dual degree programs, including a JD/MBA program with Cornell University Law School, an MBA/MILR with the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, an MBA/MEng with the College of Engineering, an MBA/MD with Cornell Weill Medical College, an MBA/MHA with the Sloan Program in Health Administration and an MBA/MPS in Real Estate.  Johnson has also partnered with institutions in Belgium and China for international dual degrees.

Johnson’s executive degree options include the Cornell Executive MBA Americas and the Cornell Executive MBA Metro NY. The Cornell Executive MBA Americas program consists of videocon­ferencing sessions in boardrooms across North America, as well as residence sessions at Johnson and Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.  The Cornell Executive MBA Metro NY, meanwhile, features classes in the New York metro area and a few residence sessions at Johnson.

Concentrations at Johnson

Breadth concentrations

  • Consulting
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Leadership & Ethics
  • Global Business Management
  • Sustainable Global Enterprise

Depth concentrations

  • Corporate Finance
  • Financial Investing
  • Financial Analysis
  • Marketing Analytics
  • Marketing Management
  • Private Equity
  • Strategy

Degree Offerings at Johnson

Full-time MBA Programs
21-month, One-year accelerated

MBA at Cornell NYC Tech

Dual Degrees  

Executive MBA Programs  
Cornell Executive MBA, Cornell-Queens Executive MBA

Executive MBA Programs
Cornell Executive MBA, Cornell-Queens Executive MBA


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Clubs, Conferences & Competitions

Johnson provides its students with many opportunities for extracurricular involvement. Full-time MBA candidates can choose from nearly 80 club offerings across a fairly balanced range of affinity, athletic, cultural and professional organizations. For example, students can become involved in every stage of the venture capital process by joining BR Venture Fund (BRV), an early-stage venture capital fund led exclusively by a team of Johnson students. Each year, BRV invests as much as $250,000 in various companies nationwide, using all profits for reinvestment. Meanwhile, students looking for community service opportunities can join Community Impact, a club devoted to providing volunteering events for students such as charity auctions.

The clubs at Johnson also sponsor a variety of competitions for students. The Marketing Association, for instance, hosts the “Battle of the Brands” Marketing Competition, where first-years spend two weeks in teams of five competing to market a product at Johnson and win $1,000. Another popular event is the MBA Stock Pitch Competition. Organized by the Parker Center, the Stock Pitch Competition attracts teams of MBA students from 12 top business schools to Johnson to present and defend stock recommendations in front of a panel of industry experts. The Parker Center also puts together the Women in Investing Conference, bringing female MBA students from all over the U.S. to network and learn about opportunities in investment management.

Campus Space

Located on the southwestern side of Cornell University’s campus is Sage Hall, which houses the Johnson Graduate School of Management. The historic 19th-century building became home to the Johnson School in 1998 after an extensive two-year renovation. Sage Hall features over a dozen classrooms outfitted with advanced technological amenities.

Cornell University offers limited graduate housing on campus in the form of apartments and townhouses, and incoming students can apply for on-campus housing for the summer or during the academic year. However, most students choose to rent apartments or rooms in houses in Ithaca; Cornell maintains a database of apartment listings to help students in their housing search.

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Career Services

Johnson’s Career Management Center (CMC) offers a wide range of career counseling services, including one-on-one career advising with one of seven professional counselors, networking events and an online job posting system.  The CMC also organizes career workgroups, through which second-year students teach groups of first-year students about working in particular functions.  In addition, the CMC organizes a full schedule of on-campus recruiting events, with mid-October through November and late January through March dedicated to second-year recruiting and about two months for internship recruiting starting in late January.  Johnson students have many opportunities to meet company representatives throughout the year through corporate presentations and club-sponsored guest speakers.

Career Statistics

By late August of 2017, 93% of Johnson’s Class of 2017 had received job offers. The mean starting base salary for Johnson graduates was $125,578, while the mean signing bonus accepted by recently minted Johnson MBAs was $31,604. Thirty-eight percent of the Class of 2017 accepted finance positions, including the 16% pursuing roles in investment banking; consulting was the second most popular function and was chosen by 26% of the class. Meanwhile, 12% of 2017 Johnson MBA graduates moved into marketing and product management, about 17% opted for general management and another 5% entered the legal field.

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The Class Profile

The Johnson Class of 2020 is comprised of 280 students.  Students in the class of 2020 had a mean GMAT score of 699 and an average GPA of 3.41.  The incoming class also had a median of five years of work experience.  A third of the first-year students were women, which represents a 6% increase from the prior class.  Fifteen percent are underrepresented minorities, which refers to students of African American, Native American, and Hispanic American backgrounds.  International citizens accounted for 27% of the class, representing 39 countries.

Application Procedures

Applicants can elect to apply to Johnson during one of four admissions rounds, which usually occur in October, November, January, and April.  Johnson requires applicants to submit their completed online application along with essays, a résumé, GMAT/GRE scores and transcripts from all collegiate and post-collegiate institutions attended.  Applicants must also submit one letter of recommendation and an optional second letter, TOEFL, IELTS or PTE scores if needed, and a $200 non-refundable application fee.  After applications are evaluated, the admissions committee conducts interviews on an invitation-only basis.  Interviews may take place on campus with a current second-year or member of the admissions committee, while those who do not travel to Ithaca can undertake in-person alumni or Skype interviews.

Application Checklist

  • Johnson at Cornell University application
  • Résumé
  • Two Required essays (third optional)
  • Application Fee of $200 US currency
  • List of activities
  • Letter of recommendation (second optional)
  • Transcripts from all post-secondary coursework and degrees
  • GMAT or GRE score report
  • English Language Exam score report for applicants whose native language is not English (TOEFL, IELTS, or the Pearson Test of English)

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The tuition for the 2018-2019 academic year at Johnson is $66,290.  However, the school estimates that with additional expenses such as rent and textbooks, students will pay up to $92,190 in that time. To help students finance their studies, Johnson offers a range of merit-based scholarships.  Admitted students are automatically considered for certain merit-based awards for which they are eligible, and about 30% of Johnson students receive financial support in the form of such scholarships.  The most prestigious of scholarships of­fered to incoming students is the Park Leadership Fellowship, which provides a full-tuition grant to up to 25 entrants.  Johnson is part of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, an organization devoted to promoting diversity in business schools.  MBA candidates may apply through this program to Johnson, and they are then eligible for full-tuition fellowships.  For those applicants who did not receive awards during their first year, there is one scholarship opportunity open to returning students, the Fried Fellowship. This distinction is given to five students who have excelled academically and contributed to the school community.  There is also a variety of loan options available to Johnson students, including federal loan programs for U.S. citizens and private loans for international students.  Johnson has partnered with Quorum Federal Credit Union to offer international students loans that do not require a cosigner.

Cost of Attendance (per academic year)

  • Tuition $66,290
  • Housing & Food $16,800
  • Books $1,100
  • Health Insurance $3,000
  • Personal $5,000
  • Total $92,190

  Get all of this info to read on the go! Download the S.C. Johnson School Snapshot PDF.

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MBA LiveWire for Cornell / Johnson

Application results in real time, submitted by site visitors.
November 12, 2018 9:12pm
Rejected via portal.
GMAT: 740. China.
November 11, 2018 6:57am
Applied via portal.
GPA: 3.77. GMAT: 710. India.
November 9, 2018 11:28am
Interview Invite via email.
GPA: 3.4. GMAT: 700. VA.
November 9, 2018 9:48am
Accepted via phone.
GPA: 3.1. GMAT: 720. New York City.
November 8, 2018 4:43pm
Accepted via phone.
New York.

DecisionWire for Cornell / Johnson

Enrolled: Undecided
Admitted: Columbia, Cornell / Johnson
GMAT: 730
Post-MBA Career: Consulting
Enrolled: NYU Stern
Admitted: Cornell / Johnson, NYU Stern
GRE: 322 GPA: 3.25
Post-MBA Career: Technology
Enrolled: Cornell / Johnson
Admitted: Cornell / Johnson
GMAT: 620 GPA: 3.7
Post-MBA Career: Consulting
Enrolled: Cornell / Johnson
Admitted: Cornell / Johnson, Georgetown / McDonough
GMAT: 690 GPA: 3.46

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