School Expert Q&A: Stanford Graduate School of Business

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Sabah Khan, Stanford

Sabah Khan, Director of Outreach at Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA Admissions, answers your questions below.

About the Program

  • Name of the school: Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB)
  • Name of the program: The Stanford MBA Program
  • School location: Palo Alto, California, USA
  • Year school started? Stanford University was founded in 1885, and the Stanford Graduate School of Business was founded in 1925.
  • Global ranking: In 2019, Stanford GSB was ranked #1 by the Financial Times and Business Week; ranked #2 by Forbes ROI and US News & World Report 

Admission Criteria

  • GMAT Score: There is no minimum GMAT or GRE score requirement for graduate study at Stanford, and we accept students with a wide range of scores. Please see the class profile for the range and average test scores. 
  • Work Experience Requirement: Work experience is not required for entry to the Stanford MBA Program. We welcome applications from college seniors and recent college graduates, as well as those with all levels of work experience. We value diversity of experience in our student body, so no specific industry, function, or background is preferred over another. We are more interested in the impact you have had in your workplace than in the name or stature of your organization.
  • English Proficiency Requirement: If you have an undergraduate or graduate degree from a college or university that provided instruction entirely in English, then you are exempt from taking the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. However, if your college or university taught some classes in a language other than English, you must take the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. This applies even if your specific program was taught in English. Your citizenship and/or work experience do not exempt you from taking the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE.
  • Letters of Recommendations: We require two letters of reference: One reference from your current direct supervisor (or next best alternative) at work and One reference from someone else who has supervised your work. Qualitative accounts of your leadership potential and personal qualities are essential to our evaluation of your application. We are impressed by what a reference letter says, not by the title or background of the individual who wrote it or the writing skills of the recommender. Your letters of reference should provide specific examples that illustrate your potential impact.
    Interview/Group Discussion: All interviews are by invitation only. Every candidate who ultimately is offered admission to the class will be interviewed. Your admission interview is both evaluative and informative: It is an opportunity for us to learn more about you, and for you to learn more about Stanford GSB. Our goal is for the interview to be a positive exchange of ideas and information. We evaluate your candidacy for admission based on all information collected from the application process, including your interview.

Application Process

  • How does one apply for the programme? The Stanford MBA Program Application is available online and instructions are included in the application. You should also read through the Stanford MBA Program Admission website carefully; it is your primary source for application information.
  • What is the application fee? $275
  • Where do I get a copy of the Application form? The Stanford MBA Program Application is available online.
  • When does the application process start? You may apply in any one of the three application rounds each year. Application deadlines are typically in mid-September for Round 1, the first week of January for Round 2, and the first week of April for Round 3. We suggest you apply only when you feel your application is as strong as it can be. 
  • What is the last date to apply? Round 3 in April of each year is the last date to apply. Please visit our website for up-to-date information on application deadlines.

Admission Process

  • What is the range of GMAT scores for accepted students? There is no minimum GMAT or GRE score requirement for graduate study at Stanford, and we accept students with a wide range of scores. The range of GMAT scores for the Class of 2021 was 600-790.
  • Is there a requirement of 16 years of study prior to applying? A U.S. bachelor’s degree or equivalent is required for admission to the Stanford MBA Program. Please visit our website for international degree equivalents
  • What constitutes work experience? Work experience is not required for entry to the Stanford MBA Program. College seniors and recent college graduates are encouraged to apply, as are those with all levels of work experience. We do value diversity of experience in our student body, so no one industry or function or background is preferred over another. Keep in mind that we are more interested in the impact you have had in your workplace than the name or stature of your organization. As you complete the work experience section of the application, you have the opportunity to describe your employment history, including your responsibilities, challenges, and accomplishments. How have you made the most of your professional opportunities? Are you cultivating your leadership and team skills? What impact are you making? We look at your responses along with your letters of reference to understand how you have contributed to your work environment(s).
  • Is there a minimum cut off for TOEFL/IELTS/PTE test scores? If you have an undergraduate or graduate degree from a college or university that provided instruction entirely in English, then you are exempt from taking the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. However, if your college or university taught some classes in a language other than English, you must take the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. This applies even if your specific program was taught in English. Stanford University requires the following minimum scores for the TOEFL:
    • 100 for the internet-based test (iBT)
    • The IELTS minimum is a 7.0 overall band score
    • The PTE minimum is a 68 overall score
  • Who should letters of recommendation come from? We request three letters of reference: two professional/workplace references and one peer reference. Submit one of your professional/workplace references from your current, direct supervisor and another from someone in a position to evaluate your work. We understand, however, that you may be in a situation that prevents you from providing a reference from your current direct supervisor. In this case, use your judgment in finding a source for your recommendation — a previous supervisor, a client, a member of your board of directors, or any other individual who reviews your work. 
  • When should I expect an invitation for an interview? All interviews are by invitation only. After you submit your application, you’ll hear from us regarding the timeline for interviews.
    Who should I contact if I have a question regarding my application status? You can review application status in your online application.

Fees & Other Expenses

  • What is the estimated cost for the entire program for a foreign student? The cost of attending the GSB is the same for both U.S. and international students. The cost of tuition for the 2019-2020 school year was $73,062. Our website estimates the full cost of attendance, including living expenses, here.
  • What is the cost of living for the duration of the programme? The cost of living in 2019-2020 ranges from $32,712 to $54,300 depending on whether you live on or off campus and whether you are single or married.
  • Are there other costs to be taken into consideration? If yes what? Other costs to consider include books and supplies, instructional materials, transportation, medical insurance, and the expenses related to a study trip to fulfill the global experience requirement. 
  • Are there any job opportunities on campus that can be pursued while the programme is on, to lower the overall cost impact? Due to the rigorous nature of our MBA curriculum, you should not rely on part-time work to defray the cost of the program. Stanford GSB does not offer college work-study. Research and/or teaching assistantships are rarely offered to MBA students.

Financial Support Options for Students

  • What are the scholarship options available for the students? A Stanford MBA degree is a significant investment in you and your future. To help you fund the full cost of your attendance, Stanford offers generous fellowships to those with demonstrated need. Our community is committed to providing you the opportunity to attend Stanford GSB regardless of your financial resources. 
  • Fellowships are gifts from our community, and they do not have to be repaid. Stanford GSB fellowships are awarded based solely on your demonstrated financial need. We encourage students to research outside scholarships, which provide need-based and non-need-based aid awarded by private agencies and organizations in the form of scholarships, grants, and fellowships. Please visit our website for more information on types of aid.
  • What are the criteria for determining scholarship applications? Stanford GSB is fortunate to receive generous fiscal support from many individuals, foundations, and corporations for fellowship funds. Fellowship funding is available for all MBA financial aid applicants who have financial need. The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program is designed to build a multidisciplinary community of Stanford graduate students dedicated to finding creative solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. The program awards high-achieving students every year with full funding. To be considered you must apply separately to the Knight-Hennessy Scholars program and to your GSB graduate degree program (by Round 1). In addition, Stanford GSB offers some fellowships for specific target audiences. Applying for these opportunities may require completing an additional application. Read more about specific fellowship opportunities on our website.
  • What are the options of availing a loan? Most financial aid received by Stanford GSB students is in the form of student loans. Detailed information will be provided about loan options once you have been admitted to the program and applied for financial aid. You can borrow up to the cost of attendance minus any financial aid or other resources (i.e., parents, relatives, friends, employers, and other external sources). Loans through Stanford GSB must be used for educational purposes.
  • Does the Institute/School help in getting loan? Our financial aid office will provide access to federal loans. However, you can also self-source private loan options. Prior to selecting your lender, we recommend you compare interest rates, terms and conditions, and repayment options for all loan programs. For international students, the Financial Aid Office will determine which loans to offer you based on your citizenship status and the information provided in your financial aid application. Stanford GSB works with several lenders to provide loan options for international students (The school does not benefit in any way, financial or other, from these arrangements). Students are strongly encouraged to look for private loan options in your home country because you may be able to secure better interest rates. The Financial Aid Office will certify any educational private loan you choose; however, we recommend that you review the terms of these private loans, or any other private loan, before making your decision.

Curriculum/Faculty/Student Exchange/Hostel Accommodations

  • How many intakes in a year? We admit one class each year and new students enroll annually in the fall.
  • Size of the intake? Each class is approximately 415 students.
  • What is the percent of foreign students in an average class/intake? The class of 2021 was 43% international.
  • What are the specializations available? Stanford GSB is a general management program. In your first year of the MBA Program, you’ll build your general and functional management knowledge, develop leadership skills, and gain global experience. In the second year of the MBA Program, you will continue to broaden your experience and perspective, deepen your knowledge in a specific discipline, or simply pursue areas of interest. Each year we offer at least 100 elective courses that change year to year. Moreover, about 20% of Stanford MBA students take advantage of a joint or dual degree to complement their MBA. Please visit our website to learn more about the academic experience
  • What percent of the class finds jobs within 3 months of graduation? 94 percent of the class of 2019 had job offers within three months of graduating. Full employment reports are available on Stanford GSB’s Career Management website.
  • What is the mean base salary of a class after graduation? The mean starting salary for the class of 2019 was $152,000.

If you have questions about admission to the Stanford MBA Program, please visit our website. You can also register to Stay in Touch with us for admission related updates, event invitations, and more. Our office is generally open from Monday to Friday, 8:00am - 4:00pm Pacific Time, and you can call us at +1 (650) 723-2766.

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