Darden School of Business has long been recognized as one of the top MBA programs in the United States. Located in the North Grounds of the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business was founded in 1955 and named after the state's 54th governor, Colgate Whitehead Darden Jr. Darden School of Business offers students a unique educational experience and global courses taught by a world-class faculty.
This article will help you to learn more about Darden School of Business before you complete your application.
About Darden School of Business
With a mission statement that aims to "improve the world by inspiring through unparalleled transformational learning experiences," it is no wonder that Darden School of Business has been ranked as the second-best MBA program for public universities in U.S. News and World Report's 2021 Best Business Schools guide. This is because innovation, collaboration, and hard work are the backbone of the Darden experience.
Steering away from the lecture-based approach, Darden School of Business opts for the case study method of teaching, inviting students to learn from real companies’ past failures and successes. Case teaching allows students to learn essential technical skills, apply what they have learned to real business scenarios, and efficiently communicate their perspectives. At Darden, students are involved with their learning at every step, which fosters an intimate and highly collaborative environment that is both dynamic and exciting.
An aspect of this case method that makes Darden School of Business unique is getting the opportunity to work within a learning team, made up of 5 or 6 students from across the different first-year sections. The learning team goes far beyond dividing and delegating work. It is designed to support students as they work through each case, all while allowing them to hone their communication skills and strengthen their relationships with their peers.
This method also teaches students the importance of collaboration, how to depend on others, and learning from their experiences. Another aspect that Darden Business School is well known for is its world-class faculty, ranked number 1 for the fourth year in a row by publications like The Princeton Review and The Economist. Darden’s professors use the Socratic method in the classroom, choosing to guide their learning through questions and discussion rather than just giving students the answers.
After receiving an MBA from a prestigious school like Darden School of Business, graduates often have great success in their career, working for employers such as Amazon, Bain & Company, BCG and McKinsey & Company. There are more than 15,000 Darden alumni spread between 91 countries. Some notable alumni include the Vice President of Comcast, Deborah Thomas, Nishita Henry, the Chief Innovation Officer at Deloitte Consulting, and Tom Poole, Senior Vice President for Digital Payments and Identity at Capital One.
The traditional full-time, 2-year MBA program that Darden School of Business offers provides students with the practical problem-solving abilities needed to find success after graduating. While the first year of the program focuses primarily on the case method, the second year gives students the opportunity to shape their academic experience by choosing between 100 electives.
While Darden School of Business doesn't officially offer majors as a part of their MBA program, they do provide concentrations and specializations including:
Asset Management / Sales and Trading
Business Development and Growth
Corporate Finance / Investment Banking
Innovation for Sustainability
Supply Chain Management
In addition to the full-time program, Darden Business School also offers several other MBA formats, including an executive MBA program for those students who wish to have a more flexible schedule.
Level of Competition
The MBA program offered at Darden School of Business is one that is well sought after. With a class size of just over 400 students and an acceptance rate of less than 25%, it is quite competitive. Here are details about the class profile at Darden School of Business:
Though these figures reflect the stiff competition to gain admittance, don't be intimidated. Remember that the admissions process to Darden School of Business is holistic; your GPA, standardized test scores, or work experience is just one part of the application process.
Complete Requirements and How to Apply
One of the best ways to prepare yourself for Darden School of Business’ fierce competition is to make sure that you are prepared to meet the application requirements. Before you apply, you will want to select your deadline. Darden offers the following application deadlines:
September 2nd for Early Action
October 5th for Round One, January 4th for Round Two
April 7th for Round Three, and July 15th for the Round Three Rolling Deadline
No matter which deadline you choose, all applications are due by 11:59 p.m. It is essential to apply as soon as you can to put together a strong application. As each deadline passes, the number of seats available in the class will decrease, along with the chances to receive scholarship money.
If you can, and you are sure that Darden is at the top of your list, it would be best to apply early on, preferably within Early Action, Round One or Round Two. At Darden School of Business, Early Action is unique because a limited number of open interview slots are also made available during this round. For all the other rounds, however, interviews are only offered by invitation. After selecting a deadline that works best for you, there are a few supporting materials you must gather:
While Darden accepts unofficial transcripts from your undergraduate institution, they require official transcripts to be sent directly to their office from your university when it comes to all degree-related coursework. The unofficial transcript that you submit for your MBA application should be in the format of either a PDF or word document
Standardized Test Scores
Darden School of Business accepts scores from a range of standardized tests, including GMAT, GRE, EA, MCAT, and LSAT. Whichever test you decide to take, make sure that it best aligns with your strengths and career goals. Like with the transcripts, Darden will accept self-reported scores when you apply, but you should make sure to arrange for GMAC, ETS, or Pearson VUE to send their official score report directly to the Darden Admissions office.
Your resume for your MBA application should not be longer than 1 or 2 pages. When crafting your resume, make sure to include thorough and quantifiable highlights of employment history like the responsibility you had, the roles you played, and the impact you had on the company.
Your resume is also a good opportunity for you to showcase aspects of your personality. Give the admissions committee an insight into who you are as a person - what are your passions and interests? What hobbies do you do in your free time? What books have you read recently? What podcasts are you currently listening to? What countries have you visited? Including a few of these personal details will help create a more fully realized snapshot of who you are.
Darden School of Business requires you to submit two recommendation letters. Recommendation letters help the admissions committee learn more about your experiences, accomplishments, and leadership potential. You should typically ask someone who knows you well to write these letters, like a previous employer who has supervised you in a professional setting. Be very careful with who you select to be your recommender; they should be willing and able to sing your praises.
Before asking someone to write a recommendation letter for you, it is important to have a good idea of what they will be asked to do. The recommendation process at Darden School of Business is all done online. Your referees will have to complete a rating grid that will evaluate you across a series of short answer questions and proficiencies. The short answer questions that they will be asked includes:
Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant's role in your organization.
How does the performance of the applicant compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles?
Describe the most crucial piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant's response.
Short Answer Questions
Darden School of Business requires you to provide responses to multiple short answer questions to give you the opportunity to showcase who you are and what you have experienced. When answering these questions, remember that there is no "right" answer per se.
The questions are designed to give the admissions committee at Darden more insight into your voice, your opinion, your goals and aspirations, and the person you are likely to become at Darden. The candidates who do well in these responses are those that represent their true, authentic selves. Being honest and authentic is the best way to make sure you stand out in your MBA essays.
Once you acquire the necessary documents, all that's left to do is complete the application. This will require providing basic information like your date of birth, address, and educational and employment history. You'll also be asked to submit all of the documents outlined above.
You will also be asked to make two significant choices within your application; you will be asked what type of program you are applying for, either the MBA (full-time) or Executive MBA. You will also be asked about your target deadline. The last and final step of the application process is to pay the non-refundable $250 application fee.
Top Tips on How to Get Into Darden School of Business
Now that we've talked about the different elements needed for an application to Darden School of Business, here are a few tips to help you stand out amongst the competition:
One of the most important things you can do is start your application early, don't wait until the last minute! Candidates who apply to Darden are quite introspective; make sure you give yourself enough time to think about why you are choosing to apply to Darden School of Business, what you hope to contribute to the school, and what you hope to gain. When a candidate is genuinely excited about attending a university, it comes across to the admissions committee and can help you stand out from the rest.
This also applies to the slowest part of your application process - your recommendation letters. It's good to identify your recommenders in advance of the deadline, making sure to discuss what is expected of them, and why you're interested in Darden. We also suggest sharing a copy of your resume with them so they have a complete idea of your experiences and professional trajectory.
Starting early will also give you time to review the various aspects of your application to determine whether or not it serves as a good representation of your goals, aspirations, and who you are.
Don't Be Afraid to Be Yourself
The best way to make yourself stand out is to make sure your genuine and authentic self shines through in every aspect of your application. Darden School of Business is not looking for a particular type of person, so don't try to edit parts of yourself because you think that's what the admissions committee wants to see. Remember that you are a multi-dimensional person.
While it's great to highlight your academic and professional achievements, don't forget about those aspects that make you who you are. Do you like to cook? Teach a Pilates class in your free time? Have a favorite book that you can't seem to put down? Was there a situation that helped you become the person you are today or put you on the path to applying for an MBA at Darden?
Whether or not you're aware of it, you already have so many defining moments that have helped shape your character. Let these moments, these attributes, shine throughout your application.
1. What MBA formats does Darden offer?
Darden offers a full-time, 2-year MBA program, an Executive MBA program, that allows you to earn the Darden MBA while advancing in your career, and a global executive MBA.
No, Darden School of Business does not accept transfer credits.
4. Is it possible to work part-time while enrolled in the full-time MBA?
The MBA at Darden is a vigorous full-time program and does not leave enough time for a part-time job. The typical day for students tends to begin at 8 a.m. and end later on in the evenings with learning team meetings. Hours that are not scheduled are used to prepare for cases, club meetings, and the like. If you are interested in having a more flexible schedule that will allow you to work while pursuing the MBA, consider Darden's Executive MBA Formats.
5. Does Darden offer any global opportunities?
Yes, Darden connects with nearly 80 different countries every year through visits and various academic and consulting programs. Students are also expected to have at least one global learning opportunity experience during their time at Darden.
6. What does a typical day for a first-year student look like?
Typically, the average schedule for a first-year student at Darden School of Business will follow this format:
8:00 a.m.–9:25 a.m. First Class
9:25 a.m.–10:00 a.m. First Coffee
10:00 a.m.–11:25 a.m. Second Class
11:25 a.m.–11:45 a.m. Break
11:45 a.m.–1:10 p.m. Third Class
1:10 p.m.–2:30 p.m. Lunch, school events/activities, meetings, briefings, etc.
7:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m. Learning Team (times vary by team)
Though it may seem harrowing to apply to a school as prestigious and competitive as Darden School of Business, becoming familiar with their application process and having a good grasp of the school can help you submit a strong application. When completing your application, you must understand who you are and what you want to gain from attending Darden.
Ensure that your values align with those of the institution, such as hard work, collaboration, and hands-on learning. Applying early, preferably within the first two rounds, will help ease the application process. Doing so will give you ample time to self-reflect and review your application to make sure it is the best representation of who you are and who you hope to become.
About Inspira Futures
At Inspira Futures, our sole focus is to get you accepted at your dream business school. Our team of experts consists of former admission committee members and alums from Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB, and other M7 schools. Our goal is to help you write great essays, ace interviews, and win scholarships. Without any stress or hassle. Our clients have gone on to secure admits at the world's top business schools while also being winners of some of the most prestigious scholarships like Stanford Knight Hennessy, HBS Baker Scholars, and many others.