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How to get into Stanford MBA from India

Stanford Business School Building

How to get into Stanford MBA from India? Stanford Graduate School of Business is a part of the prestigious M7 business schools. M7 or the Magnificient 7 is a group of 7 business schools whose deans and vice-deans meet up at least once a year to share any information they find worthwhile. These 7 business schools rank in the top 10 business schools in the world almost every year, with Stanford Graduate School of Business almost never ranking lower than number 2 in the lists.

List of M7 B-Schools
  1. Stanford Graduate School of Business
  2. Harvard Business School, 
  3. Columbia Business School
  4. Wharton School of Business
  5. MIT Sloan School of Management
  6. Kellogg School of Management
  7. University of Chicago Booth School of Business

“Stanford GSB’s Class of 2021 has been ranked as the top business school in regards to average salaries received by fresh MBA graduates for the 7th consecutive year, with the base salary averaging at $161,831.” I could go on and on about how highly the business school ranks in various lists ranging from career progress to alumni recommendation. But, if Standford University MBA admission is your dream, knowing about how to make that dream come true is more pressing. Before we get to the ‘How to’ part, let’s look at the Stanford Graduate School of Business as a whole and not just the Stanford University MBA program.

Stanford university main campus palo alto California

MBA Programs offered at Stanford Graduate School of Business

Stanford GSB offers various full-time degree programs along with various certification courses. “The non-degree or certificate programs that Stanford GSB offers are; Executive education, Online Programs, and Seed Transformation Programs.”  But they aren’t the focus here. What we are mainly concerned with are the full-time degree courses at Stanford GSB.

PhD Program

The Stanford GSB PhD program is an extensive program complete with seven fields of study; Accounting, Economic Analysis & Policy, Finance, Marketing, Operations Information & Technology, Organizational Behavior, and Political Economics. It is a rigorous program that pushes students to be disciplined, and provides them immense exposure and networking opportunities through regular events featuring industry leaders as the speakers. It is also flexible, in the manner that it allows students to follow research topics of their own interests and customize the program according to their career goals.

Stanford MSx Program

A one-year Master’s program, the Stanford MSx Program is an accelerated master’s degree aimed at experienced professionals. The Stanford MSx Program is only available to applicants with over 8 years of work experience. In addition to that, the school states that most admitted applicants have at least 5 years of work experience in managerial roles. The application process for the Stanford MSx Program is very similar to that of the MBA program at the business school. Applicants who aren’t sure whether to opt for an MBA or the MSx program for Stanford University MBA admission, get a chance to apply to both through a single application with the fee of $275. However, only professionals with at least 8 years of work experience have the MBA eligibility to apply to the Stanford MSx Program and the Stanford MBA Program with a single application.

Stanford University MBA Program

Stanford provides a traditional full-time two-year MBA degree. This is a residential course of study and provides the students with a general management degree. With only a 6.1% Stanford MBA acceptance rate in fall 2018, and an even lower acceptance rate of 5.7% in fall 2019, Stanford has ‘THE’ most selective MBA programs in the world. However, they are ever-ready to help a student with their application, and always have students that might not have the best GMAT or GRE scores but have an exceptional profile. The MBA program requires quite a few things for you to complete your application, along with an application fee of $250.

Stanford MBA Requirements

The Stanford MBA program requires an applicant to have a 3-year US undergraduate degree, or an equivalent degree. Only under special circumstances, does the school make exceptions to this MBA eligibility rule. While no minimum GPA is required, the Stanford MBA requirements comprise a full transcript of your scores and an extensive list of all your subjects and credits therein.

Stanford Gmat & GRE Score

The only requirement with regard to the Stanford GMAT or the GRE scores while applying to the Stanford MBA Program is to submit scores valid till the deadline of the application round you’re submitting them in. The Standford University MBA program also allows students to report their unofficial scores in case the applicants’ official scores arrive after the MBA deadline for application. However, you must make sure that a copy of the official score report is sent to the school as soon as it is available.

Stanford University IELTS, TOEFL & PTE Requirement

All the courses including MBA at Stanford GSB are taught in English. Hence, you need to show your proficiency in the language by undertaking any of the following tests.

  • TOEFL with a minimum score of 100 for the Internet-Based Test (IBT) 
  • IELTS with a minimum overall band score of 7.0
  • PTE with a minimum overall score of 68

All of these scores are valid for up to 2 years and should be taken before submitting your application. Also if your preceding undergraduate or graduate degree was exclusively taught in English for all classes, you may be exempt from taking this test. 

Stanford MBA Application Deadline 2022-23

While there are 3 rounds of applications, applicants are advised to apply in Round 1 or Round 2 as the chances of admission are comparatively higher. 

RoundApplication DeadlineNotification Date
Round 113 September 202208 December 2022
Round 205 January 202330 March 2023
Round 311 April 202325 May 2023

Disclaimer: The dates have been retrieved from the official B-school website. However, check with the school before applying as the dates may be subject to last-minute changes. 

Professional Experience& Deferred Enrollment

“Stanford GSB doesn’t have a requirement for work experience and welcomes applications from applicants fresh out of college too. They also provide the option of deferred enrollment to students who are either in their final year of a bachelor’s degree or are enrolled in a graduate degree that they will start right after their bachelor’s degree. This is mainly for students who wish to get full-time work experience before starting an MBA education to figure out their expectations from an MBA degree and their post-MBA goals.”

Stanford Letter of Recommendation

Stanford MBA application requires two letters of reference from its applicants; one from a current direct supervisor, and the other from someone who has at some point supervised your work. In case you are self-employed, i.e. have a business or are an independent professional, the school accepts letters of reference from anyone who could have supervised your work like a member of the board at your firm or a client who has used your services. They also suggest selecting a recommender who has:

  • Worked with you within the last three years.
  • Can provide detailed examples and anecdotes supporting the skills they believe you have.
  • Will enthusiastically write a detailed and thoughtful account of you as an employee.

To make your life easier, here are some tips on the Letters of Reference by Kirsten Moss, Assistant Dean and Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid. 

Personal Information for Stanford MBA application 

Along with basic personal information such as your name, date of birth, citizenship, etc. the school also provides a space in your Stanford MBA application for other personal information like your hobbies, awards, and extracurricular activities. This is the perfect place to showcase your accomplishments outside of the academic variety.

Stanford MBA Essays

Stanford MBA Essays are one of the most crucial parts of your application. These allow an admissions committee member to see you in a more human light rather than just a list of accomplishments. The Stanford MBA application has two mandatory and one optional essay question. While you’re supposed to answer the optional short question in the box provided in the application itself, the mandatory essays are a bit more elaborate. “The school asks two questions in its mandatory essays: Question 1: What matters to you the most and why? Question 2: Why Stanford? Both these Stanford MBA essays need to be addressed and uploaded in a single document. While there isn’t a separate word limit for both essays, the cumulative word count of both essays shouldn’t exceed 1050 words. The school recommends a word limit of 650 for the first question and a word limit of 400 for the second question. If you’re applying to both the MBA and MSx programs through one application, make sure you mention your interest in both programs in the second essay. 

What does a competitive Stanford MBA Class Profile look like?

While, the school doesn’t have any limitations set on work experience, or GMAT scores or any other admission criteria, one can figure out what a competitive profile would look like by looking at the statistics.

Stanford MBA Class of 2023 Profile
Total Applicants7367
Enrolled Students426
International Students47%
Average GPA3.78
Average Work Experience4.8 Years
Average GMAT Score738
GMAT Score Range600-790

If you look at this table closely, you would see that a candidate with a work experience of 4.8 years, a GMAT score of 738, and a GPA of 3.8, has a competitive advantage for the Stanford MBA Program. However, when it comes to Stanford MBA requirements for Indian students, having GMAT scores higher than the average scores of the school has been noticed to yield a similar profile. But the statistics aren’t the only things that make your Stanford profile for MBA eligibility. Your letters of reference and essays play a major role too.

How to write application essays for Stanford’s MBA Program?

For anyone with an MBA dream, Stanford Graduate School of Business is definitely among the top 5 schools. I have come across applicants whose sole motive was to crack Stanford GSB for their MBA degree. And it is a very possible dream if you go about it the right way. You can either decide to get into Stanford Graduate School of Business’s MBA program and then plan your whole life around it. Or you could simply live your life up to the point you decide to apply to Stanford GSB for an MBA and then work on optimizing the effect your application will have on the admissions committee members at Stanford GSB. The problem that arises in the first scenario, planning your life around Stanford, is writing your application essays. Admissions committee members read thousands of applications during their time at a business school. Over the years they develop a sense to differentiate the essays of a Stanford hungry applicant from the essay of an applicant that believes an MBA to be crucial to their career. And trust me when I say they do not prefer the former. So, here are some tips to write a good application essay for the Stanford MBA Program.

    1. Use formal Business Language while communicating with the admissions committees

    2. When you write an application essay to a business school, you could easily get the impression that your essay needs to be vulnerable, real, and everything that comes after that. While that is true, the language in your essay should not be informal. This is the first impression of you, so your aim should be to tell them about all the important milestones of your life. But this still doesn’t mean you’re writing to your friend. Consider it as a leave application to your supervisor. You have to give them the reasons to convince them to grant your leave, but you should still refrain from using any vocabulary that you would use with a friend. This includes slang or industry jargon. You might wonder why something as formal as industry jargon is being prohibited here. An admissions committee member might not be aware of the jargon used in your industry. So, if you mention the full process name once at the beginning of your application, and then just use abbreviations to refer to it, it just causes inconvenience for the reader. Instead, use a simplified term. For example, if you have to write about the time you were invited to the International Air Transport Association Annual General Meeting (aviation industry), just refer to it as the annual meeting after mentioning it in its true form once in your essay.
    1. Be Precise not Wordy

    2. When students look at the word limit for an essay, they tend to write all the possible things they can just to fill space. Admissions committee members aren’t your school board examiners. They won’t give you marks to fill in the page. Instead, if you’re falling 50 words short of the word limit in your essay, but have effectively communicated your story, your Stanford MBA essays have more of a chance to be placed in the shortlisted pile. This however shouldn’t discourage you from narrating your story. All you really need to do is keep the additional information at bay. When you write without a blueprint, you can easily digress from your topic and end up writing details about something that adds no substance to your cause. A very easy way to avoid this is to create a rough list of topics you wish to discuss throughout your essay and stick to them.
    1. Don’t write a Superhero Story

    2. Admissions committee members know that you’re not perfect. They also know that this isn’t a movie. They don’t expect to read a list of all your accomplishments since the day you were born. While you do have to list your accomplishments in your essay for Stanford University MBA admission, keep your ego in check. Being proud of what you have achieved is justified, but if you start portraying yourself as the hero who was always saving the day whether at college or in work scenarios, your essay can easily cross the line between confidence and arrogance. Let your narration show how you try to come up with unique solutions for problems and not that you are a know-it-all.
    1. Take Time to Figure out your Answer

    2. Have a drink. Take a walk. Take a vacation if you need to. Just don’t rush in to answer an essay question. Even the best writers can be stumped when faced with a question that demands an answer with a philosophical view of themselves. When Stanford asks you “What matters the most to you and why?”, don’t try to come up with the whole essay right away. Come up with a one sentence answer first. What comes to your mind when this question is presented to you? Whatever the answer was, reject it and think of another answer. Reject the second answer as well and now come up with a third. The third answer is the one that will really have you wondering and questioning all decisions you have ever made. Good! Psychologists say that when faced with a dilemma, the first answer that you give is how you have been conditioned to think. The second answer you give is motivated by what you wish to become. And the third answer is the true representative of who you are. Thus, the third answer is what we wish to show to the admission committee members.
    1. Elaborate on Certain Skills

    2. While business schools do want to see your unique individual qualities and skills, there are certain skills that are woven in the DNA of MBAs. These are skills that almost every student at Stanford’s MBA program would have portrayed through their application essays. Leadership, ethics, communication, problem solving, and quick thinking are some of the skills that you will be able to find in the essays of every applicant that got admitted to the Stanford MBA Program. But just mentioning you have these skills aren’t enough. You will have to prove it. Mention instances where you portrayed these skills. Use your application essay to show the admission committee members that you can be a good fit for the Stanford MBA Program as you possess the skills required. 
    1. Make your Friends read your Essay

    2. First of all, accept that your first draft will not be the last one. Even if you spent a whole week drafting an essay, you might have to scratch it completely and start from the beginning. “Find people who can read your Stanford MBA essays and provide honest feedback to you between drafts. Ask them to critique your essays unabashedly, and take their critiques into consideration.” If your friend/evaluator says that a certain passage was confusing, change it. You don’t have to completely re-write the passage but make it more reader-friendly. Remember that you were present when an incident happened in your life but your evaluator or the admissions committee members were not. Thus, if your evaluator was unable to comprehend what you were trying to convey, chances are the admissions committee members too won’t be able to.
    3. Don’t try to be Funny at the Cost of Quality

    4. I’m not asking you to write a robotic essay. If a story is inherently funny, let the humour come out through the narrative. Do not try to add humour to your essay by force. It will only make it a harder read and the organic humour of the anecdote will be lost. Also, the admissions committee members don’t expect you to entertain them. They want to know why you’re suitable for Stanford’s MBA Program. While a sense of humour is good quality and they might appreciate it, forcing it into your Stanford MBA essays will distract them from the narrative you’re trying to set.
    1. Don’t Make Excuses

    2. This is one of the most important parts so pay attention. Let me convey this through an example. If you spent one year after your college doing absolutely nothing but partying, own it. Talk about what lesson you learnt from it. Write about how you realized you needed to get back on track towards your career. Do not blame anyone for it. Don’t talk about how you were in the wrong social circle or how your family life drove you to the party scene. “No matter what mistakes you’ve made in your life, accept responsibility if you have to mention them in your application essay. Admission committee members know you’re human. They probably have also seen a few other students who might have made a similar mistake but is now part of Stanford GSB’s alumni.” Dodging responsibility can come across as a bigger failure than the incident you dodged responsibility for.
    1. Don’t generalize issues

    2. When Stanford’s admission committee asks you ‘What matters to you the most and why?’. They only want to know about you. They do not want to know about everyone in your social circle or your next-door neighbour. So, when you are discussing an issue in an essay, keep it personal. Let me give you a very unrelated, but simple example. “If your answer to the essay question brings you to talk about how you always had to wear your older sibling’s hand-me-downs, talk about your personal experience. Tell them why your parents couldn’t afford to get you new clothes. Do not talk about how ‘all younger kids in poor families’ have to wear their sibling’s hand-me-downs.”  The admission committee members, in the context of your essay, don’t care about how things generally happen or affect people. This is your chance to tell them about yourself and generalizing issues rather than expanding on your own story will only take away precious words from you.
    1. Don’t try to write a Stanford Essay

    2. All these tips that I shared with you above are to write a good application essay. They are to guide you on how to create a narrative in your essay and share your accomplishments and failures in a positive way. They are not meant to help applicants produce the perfect essay that will guarantee admission to Stanford. Admissions committee members read hundreds of Stanford MBA essays every year. They can sniff out an essay that is written just for Stanford. “Once the Stanford admissions committee is convinced that you spun your story to fit the idea of what a Stanford accepted applicant looks like, they won’t waste a minute in setting your application on the rejected pile.” Plus, the admission committees are more concerned with what different you can bring to the MBA program at the business school, than how well you can imitate a person they could potentially want.
diversity different man woman race ethnicity
    Stanford and every other top business school pride themselves on being diverse and having an MBA class with candidates who can be leaders in their fields of choice. They are not trying to mass-produce hedge fund managers or consultants. But diversity isn’t something a business school can teach. It is the student that brings diversity to a business school. Thus, they don’t want a student that is moulded for Stanford. They simply want a student that can optimize their own potential after becoming a part of Stanford. Use your diversity of race, ethnicity, and experiences to get into Stanford rather than trying to become a blueprint of what a Stanford MBA should be.

FAQS related to Stanford University MBA

  1. How can an Indian get into Stanford MBA?

About 30% of applicants to the top B-schools like Stanford are Indian nationals, but only about 9% get into the school. With an overall Stanford acceptance rate of 5.7%, it is one of the toughest schools to get into. However, this doesn’t mean it is extremely tough to get into this school. For Indian applicants, it is important to have a good GMAT score of around 730+, along with a good GPA of 3.78. Most importantly, your MBA profile needs to stand out in terms of your goals and career aspirations. Therefore, focus on your MBA essays and letters of recommendation apart from your scores and work experience to score an admission into this school. 

  1. What GPA is needed for Stanford MBA?

While there is no minimum GPA requirement for getting into Stanford, the average undergraduate GPA of the class of 2023 was 3.78.  

  1. Does Stanford offer scholarships for MBA?

All MBA applicants, irrespective of nationality, are eligible for Stanford MBA scholarship programs. Stanford has various financial aid programs, such as

  • Stanford GSB Need-based Fellowship
  • Stanford GSB BOLD Fellowship
  • Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program

Apart from this, there are many external scholarships that applicants can apply for. Here is the complete list of Stanford university scholarships for Indian students and international students

  1. What GMAT score do I need for Stanford?

In the class of 2023, the minimum GMAT score was 610, and the maximum score was 790. The average GMAT score was 738. If you’re planning to take GRE instead of GMAT, the average GRE score was 165 (Verbal and Quantitative).

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