How to crack Kellogg School of Management’s MBA Program?

Ranking in the Top 10 business Schools in the world in every influential list, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management (Kellogg SOM) changed the MBA scene when it emphasized the use of group projects and such to signify the importance of teamwork and team leadership in the business world.

Truly a leader in theadmissions process, Kellogg SOM was also the first school to evaluate the applicant’s cultural fit into their school environment.

Their impact on the way an application is processed in business schools can clearly be seen by the current standards that all top schools follow to evaluate its applicants. With such an impactful tenure, it isn’t surprising that Kellogg SOM also has a seat at the super-elite, informal, M7 Business Schools’ conference table.

Being a part of the M7 schools is an honor that makes an education from these schools more valuable, and the struggle to get an admit much harder.On top of being a part of the M7 schools, Kellogg’s MBA is amongst the top 15 programs in Global MBA Ranking by many reputed sources like Financial Times and Forbes.

That being said, the Kellogg SOM admissions committee is quite generous and will often indulge students in the basics of what they want form an applicant.

However, before knowing whether you fit at a school, it is imperative to know what the school and its programs have to offer to you. At the end of the day, you are a customer and the product that Kellogg SOM is selling is an education in business.

So, before we talk about what the admissions committees at Kellogg SOM want from you, let’s understand what the business school will be offering you.

Types of MBA at Kellogg School of Management

For the purposes of our blog, we will be focusing on the One-year, and Two-year Full-Time MBA programs at Kellogg SOM. These are the two full-time MBA Programs at the school that receive the most attention and have the largest applicant pool. While we will discuss about these in detail further in this blog, I also want to provide you with some crucial information about other MBA options that the Kellogg SOM offers.

Full-Time MBA Program

In the Full-Time MBA category, Kellogg SOM offers four separate degree programs.

  1. Two-Year MBA Program

    This is the traditional MBA program option for students from any educational background who wish to pursue an MBA complete with summer internships.

  2. One-Year MBA Program

    Available to and suitable for students who have completed some required coursework during their undergraduate education.

  3. MMM Program

    The MMM Program is designed for students who wish to have careers in design innovation and technology, and is a dual degree program.

  4. JD-MBA Program

    The JD-MBA Program is for students who wish to get a legal expertise along with a degree in management.

Executive MBA Program

The Executive MBA Program offered at Kellogg SOM is for working professionals who wish to get an MBA degree without leaving the work-force. The program is offered at two campuses, Miami (Florida), and Evanston (Illinois).

The campus in Miami offers classes once a month, Thursday through Sunday, while the Evanston campus offers classes twice a month, Friday through Saturday, and occasional Sundays.

Both the campuses also house students in specially designed spaces to aid networking and group projects.

Evening and Weekend MBA Programs

This is a part time MBA Program that Kellogg SOM provides. Students get to choose whether they wish to take evening classes or weekend classes. Although it is a part-time program, Kellogg provides complete career assistance to the graduates of the Evening and Weekend MBA Programs.

Cost of attendance of Kellogg School of Management

A business school that comes with the bells and whistles that Kellogg SOM does, will undoubtedly have a high tuition fee. But that does not mean that an education at such a business school can only be accessed by people with deep pockets or someone who is willing to be paying off student loans till the day they retire.

The added benefit of a top-ranking business school is the generous financial aids options they provide their applicants with. Just this year, Kellogg SOM’s Capital Campaign has raised over $400 Million. This aids the school in shifting the pressure of being the primary source of income from the student body to its private donors.

But before we get into detail about the scholarships and other financial aid options at the school, let’s look at the tuition and cost of living.

Program One-Year MBA Two-Year MBA
Tuition $101,288 $73,404
Room & Board $22,800 $17,100
Books & Supplies $2,196 $1,647
Travel $1,772 $1,329
Personal $4,200 $3,150
Health Insurance $5,070 $4,050
Computer Equipment $1,200 $1,200
Student Activity and Experience Fee $1,400 $1,400
Student Association Fee $440 $330
First Year Fee Not Applicable $2,000
Estimated Expenses $140,366 $105,610

With such a hefty price tag, one will require a financial aid option to fund their MBA at the Kellogg SOM. While loans are generally privately sourced, the school provides numerous scholarships to students.

Scholarships at Kellogg School of Management

As we discussed earlier, the grants and gifts that Kellogg SOM receives, are in part used to fund the expenses of exceptional applicants to the school. The school provides merit-based scholarships to students, that they are evaluated for as soon as they get accepted to the MBA program.

  1. Important scholarships
    • Students who are studying either the Two-year MBA Program or the MMM Program at Kellogg, the Austin Scholarship. It is given to students who have demonstrated leadership either academically or professionally.
    • Students interested in finance functions or industry for their post MBA aspirations are considered for the Finance Fellows scholarship. This is a full-tuition scholarship and an applicant needs to write an additional essay in the ‘Career Goals’ section of their application to be considered for the scholarship.
  2. Merit-based Scholarships

    Merit-based scholarships, as the name suggests, are awarded to students with exceptional academic backgrounds. Each student admitted to Kellogg is evaluated for these scholarships. Some of these scholarships are listed below.

    • Andrew & Alice Fischer and the Peter L. Frechette Endowed Scholarships
    • Charles J. Schaniel and the David Himmelblau Scholarships
    • Diversity Scholarship
    • Forté Foundation Scholarship
    • Frederick C. Austin Scholarships
    • George Terry University of Cincinnati
    • Healthcare at Kellogg Scholarship
    • John R. Flanagan Excellence Grant
    • Kellogg Growth Scholarship
    • McGraw Foundation Excellence Grant
    • Posse Scholarship
    • Reaching Out MBA Fellowship
  3. Need-based Scholarships

    The need-based scholarships that Kellogg SOM offers are currently only available to US Citizens and permanent residents. Students wishing to opt this option must fill out a Financial Need Based Scholarship Application separately to be considered for the same.

  4. Second Year Scholarships

    Students who had missed out on the scholarships awarded during admissions can apply for scholarships in their second year at the school. They are evaluated on their performance at the school in the first year while being considered for these scholarships.

    • Lee Hague Award for Evening & Weekend and Second-Year Media Management Majors
    • McGowan Fellows Program for Second-Year Students

Salaries post a Kellogg School of Management MBA degree

While Kellogg might not be the business school that provides the highest average salary post MBA, it still provides a compensation that talks volumes about the value of its degree.

In Kellogg’s 2019 preliminary employment reports, graduating MBAs have reported a median salary of $165,080, including sing-on bonuses.

But since it is just a preliminary report, let’s take a look at the more comprehensive statistics from Kellogg’s 2018 employment report.

Work Experience Pre-MBA Lowest Salary(in USD) Highest Salary(in USD) Average Salary(in USD) Median Salary(in USD)
1-5 Years 23,282 175,000 126,545 125,000
More than 5 years 68,000 300,000 133,241 130,772

This table helps us reach two conclusions about the students graduating from a top MBA Program like the one at Kellogg.

  1. A students’ profile is critical for the kind of compensation they receive.
  2. More than 50% of the graduating class is able to secure a job that offers a six-figure compensation right out of college.

These are true for most MBA programs, even the top programs across the globe. The only true variable between the top MBA programs and the MBA programs that are on lower tiers is the volume of high paying jobs that are offered.

Kellogg’s top recruiters are McKinsey & Company, The Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company, and Amazon. A high volume of jobs, for fresh graduates, are also offered by the summer internships that the school facilitates.

The highlight in this situation is the highly active Career Management Center (CMC) at Kellogg, whose staff has made impactful business relationships with recruiting partners ensuring that 95% of graduating students get employed within three months of graduation.

So, whether a student takes them or not, Kellogg provides them with ample recruitment opportunities through various sources like alumni referral, on-campus and off-campus interviews, Kellogg job board posting etc.

Application process at Kellogg School of Management

Since Kellogg SOM provides a multitude of MBA degrees, an applicant needs to really pay attention to the specifics that each degree’s application process includes. However, there are a few things that remain constant. Those are the ones that we must discuss here.

  1. Eligibility Criteria

    The most important thing to evaluate before applying to any school is the eligibility criteria. To be eligible to apply to Kellogg SOM’s MBA programs, one is required to have a bachelor’s or equivalent degree from an accredited college or university. The degree does not need to be in Business or Economics for eligibility to of the MBA Programs with the exception being the one-year MBA program.

  2. GMAT/GRE Scores

    The next step in your Kellogg MBA application is to valid GMAT/GRE scores, and additional TOEFL/IELTS scores for international students. the GMAT/GRE scores that a student submits must be valid on the day that they officially submit their completed application. Students are also encouraged to report any additional scores they have received since submitting their application under the supplementary information tab in their application form. However, unlike some other top schools, considering such score is completely at the discretion of Kellogg’s admissions committee.

  3. Transcript

    If you have participated in a study-abroad program, or transferred schools during your bachelor’s education, your transcript must contain the grades received during those. If your transcripts form college do not include your grades from a study abroad program or a transfer program, you are required to provide a separate transcript for those programs.

  4. Essay

    Applicants’ to Kellogg’s MBA programs are required to answer two essay questions.

    1. Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip and inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face and what did you learn? (450 words)

    2. Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? (450 words)

    Re-applicants, one-year MBA applicants, JD-MBA applicants, and MMM applicants have to answer an additional essay question in their respective applications. In the Essay section, an applicant can also explain any gaps in work experience, low GPA or GMAT scores, and other things they wish to elaborate on for the admissions committee to get a better perspective of the application, under the Additional Information section.

  5. Letters of Recommendation

    Applicants are encouraged to submit no more or less than two letters of recommendation. The first letter should ideally be from a current supervisor, and the second should be by someone who can elaborate on your professional performance like, a client or a former employer.

    The recommenders are required to answer three questions set by the school.

    1. Kellogg has a diverse student body and values students who are inclusive and encouraging of others with differing perspectives and backgrounds. Please tell us about a time when you witnessed the candidate living these values. (300 words)

    2. How does the candidate's performance compare to those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples. (300 words)

    3. Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the candidate. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant's response. (250 words)

  6. Application Fee

    An applicant can only apply to one of Kellogg’s various MBA programs at once. The application fee for all programs is the same, $250. However, the school does provide application fee waivers to US army veterans and active duty members, and Teach for America or Peace Corps employees who have worked with either organization in the past three years.

  7. Video Essay

    As we have discussed earlier, Kellogg SOM strongly believes in applicant vetting to see if they are a cultural fit for the business school. This makes the video essays for Kellogg’s application as important as the other essays or the letters of recommendation. Once the application fee is paid, an applicant can access the video essay section and answer three questions (two preset and one random).

    The two pre-set questions for the video essays are:

    1. Please introduce yourself to the admissions committee.

    2. What path are you interested in pursuing, how will you get there, and why is this program right for you?

    There are various practice questions available in the same section so that an applicant can get familiar with the format. Once you answer a question, other than the practice questions, you are not allowed to re-film it.

    You also get 20 seconds to think of an answer and a minute to answer the video essay questions.

  8. Interview

    The Kellogg SOM admissions committee allows a student to schedule an interview right after they submit their application. The interview can be scheduled through the applicant status page and slots are available on first-come, first-served basis.

    These interviews are an opportunity for the admissions committee of Kellogg to further evaluate how good a fit an applicant is for the school. the two modes of interview are on-campus and off-campus. This is also an opportunity for the applicant to get an in-depth knowledge about Kellogg’s programs.

    While on-campus interviews are conducted by admissions committee members, off-campus interviews are conducted through Kellogg’s alumni admissions organizations.

    Applicants apply for interview waivers as well. Kellogg’s admissions committee then gets in touch with such applicants to schedule a phone or Skype interview. However, you cannot request the Skype, or phone interview or select your preferred slot for the same.

    The mode of interview you choose does not have any negative impact on your application.

  9. Kellogg SOM Full-Time MBA application deadline

    Round Application Deadline Deadline to schedule interviews Decision Date
    Round 1 September 18, 2019 September 20, 2019 December 11, 2019
    Round 2 January 8, 2020 January 10, 2020 March 25, 2020
    Round 3 April 8, 2020 April 10, 2020 May 13, 2020

    Kellogg two-year MBA Program Class Profile (2019)

    While top business schools like Kellogg often surprise applicants by accepting applicants with either low GMAT scores, or no work experience, it is still safe to assume they have a type.

    No admissions committee member or a good admissions consultant will ever tell you to form your application or essays around your perception of what a perfect candidate to a given business school loos like, having a few common traits in your profile can give you a competitive edge during MBA admissions.

    While having a good GMAT score to get into a top MBA Program is no news, what GMAT score is considered good at which business school might differ by a few points. The best tool in such a case is the class profile of the entering class of the year before your application.

    To not utilize the averages in the entering class profile of Kellogg two-year MBA Program (2019) would be the biggest faux pas for an applicant.

    Average GMAT 730
    GMAT Range 620-780
    Average Age 27 years
    Average GPA 3.6
    Average Work Experience 5 Years
    Work Experience Range (middle-80%) 3.5-7 years
    Science/Technology/Engineering/Mathematics (Undergrad Major) 29%
    Business/Economics (Undergrad Major) 49%
    Humanities (Undergrad Major) 24%

    For Indian male engineers, the average GMAT increased by 10 points is a competitive GMAT score fro any top school. Thus, if you are an Indian male engineer, a GMAT score of 740 would be a competitive score for your MBA profile. This is due to the saturated applicant pool of Indian male applicants, to top business schools, with an engineering background.

    What does the Kellogg School of Management Admissions Committee look for?

    When you apply to a top business school, the game of admissions is much different than you would assume. The rate of acceptance isn’t just a number that shifts every year. It’s a crucial tool of application that you require to consider before applying to a business school.

    For Kellogg, the acceptance rate in 2019 was approximately 26% (6% higher than in 2018). Don’t be deceived by this rise in acceptance rate though. Kellogg still gets its pick of the applicant pool and every applicant has to meet the admissions committee’s standards to get in.

    And some high standards they are.

    The education that a top school like Kellogg SOM provides its students with, the student needs to show potential in regards to learning curve and employability. If you cannot prove to the admissions committee that you can leverage the teachings of a world class faculty, network with your peers and alumni, and add value to the cultural environment of Kellogg, they will happily skip over you to the next applicant.

    Fortunately, the admissions committee isn’t hush hush about these requirements. They have a few criteria that they believe makes an applicant a good fit for Kellogg.

    GPA and GMAT Scores

    Needless to say, the admissions committee at Kellogg does look at your GPA and GMAT scores to evaluate your academic prowess. At the end, an MBA is an academic course with a rigorous curriculum. The GPA and GMAT scores are a good indicator of how a student might perform in a structured and demanding program.

    However, they are not the sole criteria for admission. The Kellogg’s website clearly states that they aren’t looking only for academically gifted students. An applicants’ creative abilities are also crucial. However, if an applicant isn’t able to show academic excellence, the committee digs deeper into their profiles to find out if the applicant balanced the lack out.

    Thus, if your have a low GPA or GMAT score, and have addition certifications that can show that you have the academic skill set to perform well during an MBA program, the admissions committee members at Kellogg will consider your profile rounded out.

    Work Experience

    Applicants often find the work experience part of an application quite confusing. And it is. You never clearly know how your work experience is being assessed by an admissions committee member.

    Kellogg SOM however, is very clear about this criterion. they mention on their website that an applicant’s career trajectory, or work experience isn’t measured against another applicant’s work experience.

    They measure your career trajectory against people in similar career paths as you. What they generally focus on is how much initiative you have shown in your job. They also mention that industry specific jargons should be avoided while explaining your career path to an admissions committee member.

    You are simply required to explain your choices, and decisions in your job as if you were explaining them to a 10-year-old.

    Professional Goals

    Two-Years in an MBA program might seem like a long-time during applications, but it isn’t. With the rigorous curriculum set by the faculty at Kellogg SOM, you won’t even realize that the program is over when your graduation day arrives.

    If you approached a world-renowned sculpture and asked them to help you sculpt a lady, the end result could be anything according to his own interpretation. But, if you went to him with the description of a lady wearing a saree with a pot on her head, he will be able to provide you with the exact result that you had in mind.

    While the MBA program at Kellogg SOM will help you recognize your strengths and chisel out your career path even more, you will require a rough sculpture to start with. This is why your professional goals matter to the admissions committee. This also helps them analyze how much of a help Kellogg can be in your career path, and better understand your reasons for choosing Kellogg.

    Skills to mention in the essay

    You obviously should be leveraging any skills that you have showcased during your professional experience while writing an admissions essays for Kellogg. You must also make sure to provide the right anecdotes for any skills you claim to have.

    But regardless of all that, there is a set of skills that Kellogg SOM is looking for in its candidates. You don’t need to have them all, but if you do have a few skills out of these, I would suggest not skipping mentioning them in your essays.

    1. Intellectual ability
    2. Work experience
    3. Professional goals
    4. Leadership
    5. Impact
    6. Interpersonal skills

    Practicing the video essay

    Another important a part of the Kellogg application is the video essays. As the school dearly holds to the idea of knowing whether an applicant is a good fit to the school’s student body before offering them an admit, the video essays become crucial.

    Since not all students get the chance to interview with the school’s admission committee directly, the video essays are a way to leave a lasting impression on them.

    The application has a few practice questions that an applicant can go through to learn and understand the format of a video essay. My suggestion is to practice these questions as many times as you wish to, until you get confident about answering a random question that will be asked in the actual video essay.

    Also, try not to prepare a complete answer to the possible questions that can be asked to you. While you want to keep your reply structured, it shouldn’t come off as too scripted and unauthentic.

    Fitting in at Kellogg

    Kellogg is big on cultural fit. Throughout this blog, we have come across one fact multiple times; Kellogg pioneered the idea of cultural fit being a criterion for admissions.

    Now you can get a clear picture of how important this aspect of your profile would be. The admissions committee members would focus on finding this answer out through your essays, video essays, and interview.

    It’s upon you to prove that you’re a good fit at Kellogg. One very affective way to do this is by learning more about the school. ditch the old Google search and network with current students and alumni at Kellogg. Take time out and attend Kellogg’s admissions events if possible.

    Use such methods to research about the school and its programs. When you know the school inside out, you will be able to give better and more in-depth answers to questions like ‘Why Kellogg?’ or ‘What can you bring to the table?’.