School Expert Q&A: Stanford Graduate School of Business

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Sabah Khan, Stanford

Sabah Khan, Assistant Director of MBA Admissions at Stanford Graduate School of Business, helps answer questions about MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Sabah Khan, assistant director of MBA Admissions at Stanford Graduate School of Business, 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: Stanford GSB tied with Harvard Business School as the top ranked business school globally in the U.S. News and World Report in 2013. Forbes ranked Stanford GSB #1 in 2013. The Financial Times ranked Stanford GSB #2 in 2013 and #1 in 2012.
Admission Criteria
  • GMAT® Score: The GMAT is required for admission. While there is no minimum GMAT requirement for graduate study at Stanford, admitted candidates typically perform well.
  • Work Experience Requirement: 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 work place than the name or stature of your organization.
  • English Proficiency Requirement: If you have an undergraduate or graduate degree from a college or university where instruction was provided entirely in English, you are exempt from taking the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. All instruction must have been provided in English. You must take the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE if some classes were taught in a language other than English.
  • Letters of Recommendations: We request three letters of reference: Two professional/workplace reference and one peer reference. All letters of reference must be submitted by the deadline for the round in which you apply. Qualitative accounts of your leadership potential and personal qualities are essential to our evaluation of your application. Your letters of reference should provide specific examples that illustrate your potential to make a difference in the world.
  • Interview/Group Discussion: All interviews are by invitation only. Every candidate who ultimately is offered admission to the class will be interviewed. We expect to interview roughly 900 to 1,000 applicants this year. 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 formThe 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. We suggest you apply only when you feel your application is as strong as it can be. The application deadlines for the Class of 2017 (entering Fall 2015) have not yet been finalized. However, application deadlines are typically in the first week of October for Round 1, the first week of January for Round 2, and the first week of April for Round 3. We strongly encourage you to apply in Round One. Over the last few years, the number of applications we receive in Round Two has increased, making it more competitive. Do not rush your application, but on the margin, submitting it earlier is better.
  • 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? While there is no minimum GMAT score requirement for graduate study at Stanford, admitted candidates typically perform well. The range of GMAT scores for the Class of 2015 was 550-790.
  • 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. Degrees from international universities offering only three-year baccalaureate degrees are valid 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 work place than the name or stature of your organization. As you complete the work experience section of the application, you have an opportunity to describe your employment history, including your responsibilities, challenges, and accomplishments. Have you made the most of your professional opportunities? Are you cultivating your leadership and team skills and making a difference? We look at your responses in conjunction with your recommendations to create a broad picture of the impact you have had in your work environment(s). Include both full-time and part-time work experiences. If you have had more than one job, we ask why you left your previous employer(s). Your response to this question helps us understand your career development and what has motivated your decision making. We also ask you to report the industry and job function you hope to pursue after you obtain your MBA.
  • 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 where instruction was provided entirely in English, you are exempt from taking the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. Stanford University requires the following minimum scores for the TOEFL:
    • 250 for the computer-based test (CBT)
    • 100 for the internet-based test (iBT)
    • 600 for the paper-based test (PBT)
    • 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. 

If you are unable to provide a letter from your current direct supervisor, include a brief note of explanation in the Additional Information section of the online application. It is up to you to choose an appropriate replacement. If you are a college senior, you may use a direct supervisor from a summer, part-time, or internship position. Alternatively, you may ask someone who oversaw you in an extracurricular, volunteer, or community activity. 

 

Second professional reference: The second reference must come from someone in a position to evaluate your work, such as a manager of another department in your organization, a previous supervisor, or a client or customer. 

 

Peer Reference: The final reference must come from an individual with whom you have worked as an equal. This person may be from your place of employment, or from a charitable, extracurricular, or professional team experience. This person may not be your supervisor or subordinate. We understand that this person may not always be a peer in title, but it should be a person for whom there is no structural/positional influence in your relationship. We focus on what a reference letter says, not the title or position of the individual who wrote it or how well the recommender writes in English. There is no one right mix of recommendations that will affect your admission standing. You should choose individuals who:

    • Have had significant direct involvement with you within the last few years.
    • Know you well and can provide the details and examples that support their assertions.

All three of your recommenders will also be asked to assess you on some competencies and character traits that contribute to successful leadership.

  • 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 your 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 2013-2014 school year was $59,550. 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 2013-2014 ranges from $24,087 to $39,415 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 cost of 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? Stanford GSB fellowships provide aid based on an analysis of income and assets in order to determine financial need.
    Outside scholarships provide need-based and non-need-based aid awarded by private agencies and organizations in the form of scholarships, grants, and fellowships. Loans provide need-based and non-need-based aid that must be used for educational purposes and must be repaid. Read 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. Although no separate application is required to apply for a specific Stanford GSB Fellowship, you will be required to complete our Fellowship Data Form (the Financial Aid Office will notify students when this is available), which enables us to match your background with our donors’ preferences. Fellowship funding is available for all MBA financial aid applicants who have financial need. 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.
    Of particular note may be the Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship which supports Indian nationals living in India who need financial assistance in obtaining an MBA at Stanford.
  • What are the options of availing a loan? The Financial Aid Office will determine which loans to offer you, based on your citizenship status and other information on your financial aid application. Regardless of whether loans are need-based or non-need-based, your total financial aid cannot exceed the cost of attendance. You can borrow up to the cost of attendance minus any financial aid or other resources (i.e., parents, relatives, friends, employers, and other outside sources). Loans at Stanford GSB must be used for educational purposes. 
  • Does the Institute/School help in getting loan? Stanford GSB has partnered with Star One Credit Union to provide private educational lines of credit to international business school students with no US co-signer. There may be other private educational loans for international students, and we urge all students to investigate in their home country and/or country-of-residence for loan options.
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 408 students.
  • What is the percent of foreign students in an average class/intake? The class of 2015 was 41% international.
  • What are the specializations available? Stanford GSB is a general management program. You may take up to 18 electives to broaden your experience and perspective, or broaden your knowledge in a specific area. One in six students pursues a joint or dual degree with the MBA, including JD/MBA, MA Education/MBA, MA Public Policy/MBA, MS Computer Science/MBA.
  • What percent of the batch finds jobs within 3 months of graduation? 94 percent of the class of 2013 had job offers within three months of graduating. Full employment reports are available on Stanford GSB’s Career Management website.
  • What is the mean starting salary of a class after graduation? The mean starting salary for the class of 2013 was $125,592
  • 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.