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Chicago Booth MBA Application Insider

Thinking of applying to an elite M7 business school? Chicago Booth admissions expert Donna Swinford shares her top tips for acing all stages of your application

Thu Dec 21 2023

Where better to study an MBA than in the US News’ 2023 top business school? From the current CEO of Domino’s pizza to the co-founder of the billion-dollar investment company, the Carlyle Group, the alumni of the Chicago Booth School of Business can be found in any number of high-flying careers.  

Plus, given its status as an elite M7 business school, it’s easy to see why. With access to top-notch industry professionals, rigorous teaching standards, and a world-renowned research institute, it provides its students with an unparalleled opportunity to fully realize their business potential. 

But what do these business whizzes look like?

On average, the class of 2025 are 28 years old, have five years of work experience, and high GMAT scores of 728. The majority come from a finance, marketing, or tech background. They’re also particularly diverse, with 42% of the class being women, and 36% international. 

In other words: it’s competitive. However, there’s no need to sweat it. To find out how best to ace your application, we asked Chicago Booth’s associate dean for student recruitment and admissions, Donna Swinford (pictured below), to share her top tips:


What do you look for in MBA candidates?

Instead of focusing on fitting a preconceived mold of who they think Chicago Booth is looking for, we encourage applicants to focus on authentically expressing who they are as individuals, why they want to pursue an MBA with us, and what they can contribute to the school.

While academic records and previous experience are, of course, an important factor in the application, who you are as a person is of equal value when applying. Successful candidates will use their application as an opportunity to show the admissions team as much about themselves as they can.

For example, we encourage applicants to think about what motivates them. What do they hope to gain from time with us at Chicago Booth? What are their future aspirations? Why is Chicago Booth the best place to help them achieve their goals?

7136d07d424f49fc0033525b9e1d727cd12c0c3a.jpg What are your top tips for the application process? 

A common misperception is that certain parts of the application are more important than others. This is not the case—every stage of the application process is created for a reason and is used to help us better understand the applicant’s passion for joining Booth. All parts of the application are equally important.

We also have no preference over which entrance test candidates take, we accept GMAT, GRE, GMAT Focus Edition, and the new shorter GRE tests.

Another top tip for an applicant is to ask another person to read their application essay, and convey the key points they took away from the piece. If others interpret the message one way, it's likely our admissions team might too. Having somebody else cast an eye over the essay section of the process is an easy way to test it out and tweak if needed!

Finally, applicants should make sure that they take time to ensure they are accurately answering the questions. It’s important to answer every question, don’t leave sections blank. These questions should be used as an opportunity to showcase an applicant's unique way of thinking, and who they are as a person, both personally and professionally.

What questions should candidates expect in their Booth admission interview? 

We like to think of our interviews as a conversation with a member of our community. Candidates should be authentic, telling us about themselves and their life experiences firsthand, highlighting their professional aspirations and making sure that their passion for pursuing an MBA shines through. 

However, while we want to better understand candidates' motivations during the conversation, candidates should also use this as an opportunity to learn more about Booth, ask questions and decide if it is the right fit for them.