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The Chicago Booth MBA: How To Get Accepted

Wondering how to get accepted to the Chicago Booth MBA? Krista Nannery of mbaMission shares her top tips

By  Bethany Garner

Thu Jan 23 2020

How can I get accepted to the Chicago Booth MBA?

Dear BusinessBecause,

I want to pursue my MBA at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business, and I'm looking for some advice.

What does the school's admissions team look for in their applicants, how does this differ compared to other top schools, and how can I strengthen my application?

This week's question was submitted by an anonymous reader.

Got an admissions question of your own?


The Answer

This week's Applicant Question is answered by Krista Nannery, senior consultant at mbaMission.  

Many years ago, I was a student application reader at Chicago Booth. To be fair, this is so long ago that Booth wasn’t even called Booth at the time! 

But while the times have changed—Booth doesn’t use student readers anymore—given my experience as a professional admissions consultant today, I think what Booth fundamentally looks for is still the same. 

Here are three things Chicago Booth looks for in its MBA applicants.

1. Academic Chops

Booth prides itself on its rigorous—but flexible—curriculum. 

They want to know that you will succeed in their 'choose your own adventure' environment where you can really take any class you want, with no core curriculum and few prerequisites. 

There are different ways to prove 'academic chops' to the admissions committee, but your undergrad GPA is certainly a very clear signal of the type of student you’ll be at Booth. 

But what if your GPA isn’t the greatest? Every year, we see people get into Booth with lower GPAs, but it’s fair to say they’ve proven their academic ability in some other way. 

Maybe they’ve got a great GMAT score or perhaps even just a great Quant score on the GMAT (or GRE.) Maybe their undergrad GPA was low but when you actually looked at their 'quant-y' classes, they did quite well. 

As you’re preparing your application to Booth, think about how you can signal, 'Yes, I can handle this,' to the admissions committee.

2. Curiosity

In most business school interviews, at the very end of the interview, the interviewer will ask “Do you have any questions for me?” 

Booth really prides itself on a spirit of inquiry, so you don’t want to be the candidate that flies all the way across the country just to say, “No, I’ve asked all my questions already.” 

But let’s back up–that’s the interview. You have to get to the interview first. To get to the interview, it can be helpful to signal that you are a curious and interesting person in your application. 

If your employer asked you to go to another country for six weeks and you said “Yes!”, make sure that’s clear on your resume. 

If you had a choice between a promotion in your current line of work or a lateral move to a different part of the company to learn an entirely new set of skills, make that clear in your application too. 

Likewise, in your extracurriculars, if you were always curious about bouldering but were a couch potato for the first 24 years of your life, make sure Booth understands how you became a bouldering master at 26. 

In short, show that you are a person who seeks growth and enjoys change. Show that you get involved in things, at work and outside of work. Show that you lead an interesting life and will make a unique addition to the Chicago Booth community. 

3. Interest in Booth

Have you visited campus? Talked to multiple Booth students? Picked up on Booth’s catchphrases and know how the school markets itself? 

Booth wants to know that you want to go there and that you’ve invested in getting to know them. 

Historically, Booth has asked candidates to indicate how they’ve gotten to know the program in the online application. 

Make sure you can answer this question beyond just listing their website. Go to admissions events and network with current and former students throughout the application process. 

This will not only signal your interest to the admissions committee, but it will also make your essays more interesting!

By sharing the classes, clubs, and resources you’re interested in, and why, you’ll be able to clearly explain why Booth is the right program for you. 

Ask an Admissions Expert a Question

Next week, you'll have the chance to ask April Leung, Assistant Director of Marketing, and Admissions of MBA Programs at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), anything you want about getting into business school. 028e317336a426793d7d2fafab160059f91b1adb.jpg

April began her career in global banking, and has more recently worked in travel retail, witnessing the strong growth of tech use across Asia that has reshaped the employment landscape for MBA graduates.

She currently leads the team for MBA consultations, admissions, marketing, and evaluation at HKUST Business School.

April herself holds a bachelor's in Global Business (BBA) from HKUST, and completed her postgraduate studies on Digital and Social Media Marketing with The University of Hong Kong.

Got a question you'd love April to answer? Submit your question