For Master’s degree programs, Bocconi University remains one of the most coveted names. The Milan-based school offers a diverse set of 13 Master of Science (MSc) programs, including high ranking master’s in management and master of finance programs.
But what is Bocconi looking for in prospective master’s candidates?
Here’s what you need to know about applying for a Bocconi Master's, and how you can make your application stand out.
What does the Bocconi Master’s admissions process involve?
For its Master’s offerings, Bocconi holds separate application rounds for internal applicants, Italian applicants, and international applicants. For international students, there are five application rounds, between mid September and the end of May.
Admissions are conducted on a rolling basis, meaning that each application is considered as it comes in. Given that there are 13 degree programs on offer, applicants are allowed to apply to a maximum of five masters degrees.
You can reapply once over the course of the academic year, meaning those rejected earlier on will get a second chance. “The sooner you apply, the more chances you have, and the better your chances will be,” explains Paolo Cancelli, director of student affairs at Bocconi.
The school identifies three main elements when looking at candidates.
First, the school looks at GMAT or GRE score, as an objective, quantitative way to compare applications. Applicants only need to supply their overall score, rather than individual section scores. This is then compared alongside your academic background, namely through grade point average (GPA) of your bachelor’s degree.
It's a combination of these two aspects which give program directors a rounded, holistic view of how candidates will be able to perform academically.
The third part is the resume and personal statement which candidates must submit. This gives program directors a good insight into your experience and suitability for the programs which you’ve applied for.
Certain programs will ask applicants either for a video presentation or an interview. This gives you the chance to talk more openly and candidly about yourself, and to deepen your profile. You’re given certain questions to answer, with a set amount of time to respond.
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What are Bocconi program directors looking for in applicants?
Through the different aspects of the application, Bocconi’s program directors will be looking for certain things in their applicants.
Suitability, for one. Candidates should take time to demonstrate why they are a good fit not just for the school, but for the specific MSc program which they are applying for.
“We look for coherence in terms of previous professional or academic experience in the field that they are enrolling in, that would help us see why they’d be a good fit,” Paolo says.
Paolo recommends that candidates should put time into understanding what they’ll get out of the two year program. “Look at the prerequisites given, the core courses and electives, to make sure you have the requirements to cope with the program if admitted.”
Motivation is linked to this, as it is important for candidates to demonstrate to the school the reasons why you are applying to their particular program.
Paolo believes this is even more important at the master’s level compared to bachelor’s degrees. Applicants have to be sure that they have the right motivations for continuing their studies—otherwise this could hurt their prospects of employability.
Given you can apply for up to five programs at Bocconi at once, Paolo recommends not to choose wildly different programs, as this may give the impression of a lack of intentionality.
Motivation is strongly linked to ambition. The decision to study a master’s should be part of a coherent, ambitious career plan, and candidates should make this clear in their application. Bocconi isn’t looking for candidates who are doing a master’s for the sake of it.
“We convey the message that it isn’t the next two years you lose. By taking a MSc program at Bocconi, you’ll have a safer landing into the job market,” Paolo says.
Diversity is of great importance to Bocconi, in terms of gender, nationality, and industry background. Through different financial grants and awards, Bocconi aims to attract more exceptional candidates who fall into underrepresented groups, such as female applicants or candidates from a STEM background.
How can you make your Bocconi master's application stand out?
As one of the most renowned business schools in Europe, Bocconi has a large quantity of applications for its masters programs. Paolo stresses, however, that there are a few things that candidates can do to stand out.
Doing research can stand you in really good stead as an applicant, as it will show your enthusiasm for that particular program.
“We provide plenty of opportunities to interact with current students and course directors. You need a clear understanding of the contents of the programs, and career opportunities for once you’ve left the programs,” Paolo says.
It’s important that candidates tailor their responses specifically to Bocconi. Conversely, they tend not to like candidates who give generic responses, which have often been copied and pasted from applications for other business schools.
“You should take your time. Even just one word could be read in the wrong way. We are somehow receiving applications for top students, from Europe and around the world, so we have quality applicants to choose among.”
But beyond grades, GMAT scores, and job experience, Bocconi are looking for something a little bit different in candidates—experiences that show they are unique and haven’t just taken the conventional route in life.
“What we’re really looking for is someone who has somehow challenged themself in their life, by taking particular hard roads (not shortcuts), or by gaining some particular experiences in their life.”
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