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What Is It Like Studying An MBA As An Indian In The United States?

Dawna Clarke, executive director of admissions at the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business, answers our Applicant Question of the Week

It's time for another Applicant Question of the Week at BusinessBecause!

Every week, we give you the opportunity to ask one of our chosen admissions experts anything you want to know about getting into business school. One question each week is chosen for our expert to answer.

This week, our question comes from Gautham Vundavilli (pictured) from Mumbai, India. He's completed his bachelor's in power engineering and also a master's in management300

He is currently working with Unilever India and is hoping to study a full-time MBA at a US business school next year.

His question is answered by Dawna Clarke, executive director of admissions at the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business.

Applicant Question of the Week:

Dear BusinessBecause, 

What is studying an MBA like for an Indian in the United States? How safe and congenial is the atmosphere at UVA, Darden for students from India?

The Answer:

While every school is unique, in general you will find significant numbers of students from India at top MBA programs in the United States.

MBA programs continue to see strong interest from students with Indian backgrounds, and we continue to see strong growth in the percentage of GMAT test-takers in India.

While there are many reasons behind the steady increase, one clear factor is the rapid economic expansion in India.

This has created opportunity for a new generation of future business leaders in the country.

The success of Indian students in MBA programs also perpetuates the trend.

When a student from India, who comes to the US for an MBA program, has great experience and lands a great job, whether in the US, India or somewhere else, they set an example that others in their network may emulate.

We’ve certainly seen that at Darden, where Indian students have a strong record of earning top jobs after graduation, especially in the fields of consulting and technology.

Another trend we’re seeing is Indian students who come to the US for school and work here for a number of years before deciding — for a variety of reasons — to take the next step of their career in India.

So, while an MBA may not have been at the forefront of thought for students in undergraduate programs in India even a decade ago, increasingly, it is!

It’s also important to keep in mind just how global a top business school is in 2019.

At Darden, about one-third of current students were born outside of the US, representing 36 different countries.

In every class, Darden has around 20 to 25 students who hold primary Indian citizenship, a significant number for a relatively small and intimate school.

Many MBA programs are larger, but you’re likely to see similar figures in top programs in the US.

Even if a student begins a US MBA program and is setting foot in the United States for the first time, there is a network of support firmly in place to ensure success.

Check out the Top-One Year MBA Courses In The USA


Among Darden’s many clubs and organizations is the Darden South Asia Society, which brings together members of the Darden community who are interested in business and cultural aspects of the South Asian geographical region.

The club organizes seminars, speaker series, panels, recruiting events, admissions activities, and cultural and sporting events distinctive to this region. 

The club has many students from India and South Asia, but it provides cultural opportunities for the whole school, organizing Holi and Diwaili celebrations and career panels with alumni, for instance.

There is a similar story with faculty members. At Darden, multiple professors are originally from India, and this ranges from some of our newest faculty members to groundbreaking professors and school leaders who are charting the direction of the school.

To give you a sense of the importance of the market and strength of our relationship, Darden has a full-time regional director, Suds Tirumala, representing Darden in India and Southeast Asia.

In July alone, three Darden professors — Saras Sarasvathy, Roshni Raveendhran and Raj Venkatesan — will hold separate events in the country.

Similarly, in August, I’ll be in New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai, telling students about the Darden experience and the springboard to career success afforded by an MBA.

One message I’ll take is that while Darden’s classroom spaces are located in Charlottesville, Virginia, and in the Washington DC area, student learning, faculty research, and the powerful alumni network stretch across the globe.

For example, Darden has full-time representatives in Mumbai, Shanghai, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Again, top US business schools are increasingly global in just about every way you can imagine.

Learning from diverse peers and faculty members benefits all, as conversations require active listening, persuasion and negotiation while navigating different viewpoints and cultures.

In the high-engagement Darden classroom, students from India and South Asia bring cultural insights and experience to share with their fellow students.

Similarly, they benefit from learning from a diverse set of peers whose backgrounds cover the globe.

There is often an adjustment from the learning style in many Indian universities to MBA programs, where there is often more discussion and ambiguity. With a strong support system, Indian students make this transition without issue.

So, while there is no one answer to what studying for an MBA is like for an Indian student in the United States, schools like Darden work hard to ensure the journey is one of personal transformation, with graduates leaving prepared for a lifetime of meaningful work on the global stage.

Ask an Admissions Expert a Question! 


Next week, you'll have the opportunity to ask Susan Berishaj, a New-York based admissions consultant, anything you want about getting into business school.

Susan is based at Sia Admissions, offering coaching to MBA applicants who are applying to US, European, and Canadian schools.

Got a question you'd love Susan to answer? Submit your question on our TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn pages, send us an email to info@businessbecause.com, or simply post a comment below!

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