Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, home to the the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

How To Get Into Wharton’s MBA Program

June 16, 2021
Part 1. IntroductionPart 2. About Wharton MBA Part 3. Level of CompetitionPart 4. Complete Requirements and How to Apply Part 5. Top Tips on How to Get into Wharton MBA Part 6. FAQsPart 7. Conclusion

Introduction

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is one of the most well-known and prestigious business schools in the country. Featuring rigorous courses in disciplines like finance, healthcare administration, and economics Wharton’s MBA program attracts some of the most ambitious, career-driven MBA applicants.

This can make the process of getting into Wharton quite daunting. Not to worry, you are in the right place to learn how to get into Wharton MBA. Keep reading as we run through how to tackle the application, make yours stand out, and secure your place at Wharton.

About Wharton MBA

The Wharton School was founded in 1881, making it the first business school of its kind in the world. The value of receiving an MBA from Wharton is exemplified by the business and leadership skills students gain during their time at the school, allowing them to realize their career goals.

One of the most significant upsides to Wharton’s MBA program is the extensive community of Wharton MBA graduates. Wharton boasts a 99,000-strong alumni population located around the globe “that is constantly networking, mentoring, and learning.” 

It’s through the experiences of these alumni that Wharton can claim so much success for its program. Recent data shows the range of starting salaries for 98.5 percent of Wharton MBA graduates was between $122,000 and $150,000.

This data came from 694 employers who made job offers to Wharton students. Interested in working abroad after your studies? The professional success enjoyed by Wharton graduates is not confined to the United States. Around 12.3 percent of recent graduates chose to work outside of the U.S. 

One enticing aspect of getting an MBA at Wharton is the ability to further personalize your education by choosing from 12 joint degree programs. Among these include Wharton’s three fully integrated, interdisciplinary MBA degrees:

  • The Lauder MBA/MA Joint Degree in International Studies
  • The Carey JD/MBA program 
  • The MBA in Healthcare Management 

Wharton also boasts 19 different majors and almost 200 electives, including STEM Certified Majors like Business Analytics and Quantitative Finance. The curriculum is divided into three credit categories for a total of 19 credit units (CU). The core requirements are worth 9.5 CU, major-specific requirements are 5.0 CU, and electives contribute 4.5 CU.

All accepted applicants are considered for the broad variety of fellowship opportunities available to Wharton students with extraordinary performance. New students with outstanding professional development, exceptional academics, and unique character and background may be eligible for the Wharton Fellowship Program.

The program provides financial awards that cover two years of enrollment. The benefits to being a part of Wharton do not only come from the education you’ll receive as a graduate-level student. Wharton’s abundant resources are an additional benefit to students and alumni.

Wharton’s MBA Career Management team offers resources for the job search like:

  • Programs and workshops
  • Detailed information on careers in various industries
  • Research tools exclusive to Wharton
  • Recruiting events
  • Individual career advising
  • Career treks
  • Lifelong career support as alumni

Level of Competition

Attempting to make it into the Wharton School’s MBA program is not baiting your line for small fish. US News ranks Wharton as the nation’s number one Business School, tying with Stanford University. Wharton’s excellence extends into the more specific categories, too.

Wharton has a ranking of number one in both finance and real estate, number three in accounting, and number five in international business among business schools. Truly, as an institution, Wharton excels in many industries every year.

Being accepted into the MBA program at Wharton is no cakewalk. The most recent acceptance rate for MBA applicants was 19.2%. While this is higher than, say, Harvard Business School’s acceptance rate of 12% or MIT Sloan’s of 14.6%, it shows that no one simply walks into this coveted program. 

The educational backgrounds of accepted MBA applicants are luckily not homogenous; 38% of new students come from an undergraduate in humanities, 34% from business, and 28% from STEM disciplines.

No matter what you studied as an undergrad, it’s important to know that the average GPA for accepted applicants was 3.6. The average amount of work experience gained at the time of application was five years. Worry not if you fall short of this, though, as the range of prior work experience is 0-14.

Here is more information on the Wharton class profile:


What GMAT and GRE Test Scores
Wharton applicants with previous industry experience


Complete Requirements and How to Apply

The first step of beginning your journey to a Wharton MBA is learning a few important dates. The Wharton MBA program has three rounds of applications per year. Three important dates to keep in mind for each are the application deadline, interview dates, and decision dates. 

The next step is to compile the different parts of the application that you’ll need. The necessary components of the Wharton MBA application are as follows:

  • Background Information: This includes contact info, DOB, academic degrees earned, professional experience, and family info.
  • Application Fee: $275
  • Two Essays: You’re encouraged to be “introspective, candid and succinct” in these two 400-500 word range essays. Check the school site to see the current prompts. Reapplicants must also submit a shorter essay describing how they’ve changed and developed since their last application.
  • Transcripts (unofficial or official): Upload an unofficial transcript or self-report grades on Wharton’s Online Transcript Template.
  • Two Letters of Recommendation (LORs): Wharton has a custom format for LORs: Recommenders are asked to describe the applicant using a combination of pre-selected traits. Two free-form questions ask the recommender to detail experiences with the applicant indicating the potential for success at Wharton and in their career after Wharton.
  • GMAT or GRE Score: Self-report your GMAT or GRE scores, highest scores first, from tests taken in the last five years.
  • English Language Test Score: Non-native English speakers are required to take the TOEFL or PTE. If you earned a bachelor’s or master’s in which the instruction language was English, the test may be waived.
  • Resume: Submit as a one-page PDF file.

Your application will start from the Online Application Menu, where it will be filled out and compiled on the Wharton portal. You will need to create an account to start the process. Once your application is complete, it is a good idea to undergo an application review.

Having extra eyes review your application will help catch any mistakes or missing details that you may have overlooked.

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Top Tips on How to Get into Wharton MBA

Once you know the necessary elements of a Wharton MBA application, there is still plenty to think about regarding how to make your application authentic and outstanding. Admissions wants to know more than just how you look on paper.

An effective application will give reviewers context as to how your professional and educational journey brought you to Wharton’s MBA program and what will motivate your success throughout the program if admitted.

To help you begin thinking about how to adequately communicate this, we have provided tips for creating an application that will get you into Wharton:

Make a List

With abounding documents and tasks required for the Wharton MBA application process, you should remove the added stress of keeping track of everything off of your mind by writing everything down.

This will also allow you to track the progress of your personal plan-of-attack and keep tabs on what you’ve already accomplished. Who doesn’t love the feeling of crossing off another to-do?

Make a Schedule around Important Dates

The most important considerations for an MBA application are the deadlines; not meeting a deadline is the fastest way to sink your application before it’s had time to float. Keep deadlines on a primary calendar or on your phone, and organize your schedule around these important times.

Substantiate Your Choice of Major or Joint Degree

Being a well-rounded student and successful professional may justify your admittance into the Wharton MBA, but you’ll also need to show why your selected major or joint emphasis suits you.

For example, going into an MBA discipline like accounting or finance requires some proof that you have a quantitative background and are prepared to calculate at the graduate level. If you have a significant personal story behind your major selection, the essays present a good opportunity to express a strong connection to the material you will be taught.

Indicate Your Career Path

Wharton’s MBA program is not just the culmination of your past education and experience. It’s the link to the future to which you aspire. The goal of Wharton’s admissions committee is to confirm that you will uphold the prestige of the institution and its faculty long after graduation.

Presenting future plans goes beyond providing a rough outline or expressing your best plan for securing a job offer by graduation. Your application will look best if you demonstrate careful thought regarding your post-graduation plans.

Discuss ambitions extending past your next entry-level job. Explain why your career plan will be successful, and describe how it was developed.

Be Genuine

Applying to graduate school can make the most accomplished, driven people feel inadequate. Putting so many facts and figures about yourself into one collection of documents to be judged is vulnerable and nerve-racking. It’s important to keep in mind that you have things to offer that Wharton’s MBA program wants.

Admissions wants to get a holistic, honest image of applicants to feel confident when selecting them. From your essays down to your background information, it’s in your best interest for every word to reflect who you are, not a polished, shallow version of yourself that may seem like who Wharton wants. Admissions can sniff out facades. Be authentic.


FAQs

1. How Do I Prepare for the Interview?

The first important consideration is the Wharton MBA interview format. Wharton implements its Team Based Discussion (TBD), during which all interviewees must participate. The TBD portion of the interview is 35 minutes long and requires collaboration with four to five other prospective MBAs.

You’ll be presented a prompt, and you’ll “work together to achieve a tangible outcome.” Following this exercise, you will attend a ten-minute, one-on-one interview with an admissions representative to share what drew you to Wharton.

Wharton’s website encourages you to focus on your strengths, relax, and prepare to adapt. Your Wharton interview will require preparation that focuses on maintaining a confident mindset.

If you feel a bit underprepared for an interview of this nature, a mock MBA interview can help you get a sense of what to expect while helping you improve your performance and, ideally, calming your nerves. 

2. How and When Can I Expect to Receive My Decision?

Not surprisingly, you can expect the longest wait on your decision if you apply in round one. Wharton’s website indicates that the expected date of an interview invitation is around a month after the application deadline for round one and a shorter wait for the subsequent rounds.

This invitation will include a link to schedule the interview and materials to prepare. The dates for when decisions will be released follow this timeframe by a month to a month and a half. In recent years, the application deadline for round one was mid-September, and the decision release date was mid-December.

If you apply in round one and are not accepted, you are encouraged to improve your application and re-submit for one of the subsequent rounds. Getting “dinged” is a difficult blow to confidence. Consider working with a consultant who can provide critiques of your application, ensuring an even stronger second attempt.

3. Can I Get the Application Fee Waived, and How?

Waiving the application fee is a consideration that Wharton only allows for applicants who would experience significant financial hardship from the fee, as well as for active military or veteran applicants.

If you wish to apply for the waiver, begin your application and email feewaiver@wharton.upenn.edu with your need-based financial aid request. Requests must be sent 15 days prior to application submission or sooner. 

4. Can I Substitute the International English Language Test (IELTS) for the TOEFL/PTE?

No, Wharton requires either a TOEFL or PTE score submission for applicants who are not native English speakers. Other exams are not accepted. This is to ensure consistency and equity on the part of the Admissions Committee. It’s worth noting that GMAT verbal scores and writing ability are also used to gauge an applicant’s English abilities.

5. Should I pursue an MBA or an EMBA (Executive MBA)?

One factor in this choice is location. The MBA program is only offered at Wharton’s campus in Philadelphia, while the EMBA can be taken in Philadelphia or San Francisco. Another significant difference between the two options is the credit requirements.

The EMBA has no major requirements because you are not required to declare a major. This means that, with the EMBA, you have ten required core curriculum credits, and the other nine credits are allocated for electives.

If you’re vacillating between the Wharton MBA or EMBA, you should consider where you want to study, how much variety you’d like in the classes you take, and how important the title of Executive MBA versus a standard MBA is to you.

6. Will Wharton Sponsor a Visa for a Campus Visit?

Unfortunately, Wharton’s Office of International Programs can only offer support to students who have already been admitted into Wharton. They are unable to sponsor applicants for a campus visit and cannot write a letter of support to help with a visa application. International students with more questions specific to their situation are encouraged to look at the International MBA Students page on Wharton’s website.

Conclusion

The undertaking of applying to the Wharton School’s MBA program is a multifaceted process. It is important to maintain an organized and motivated mindset throughout the application process. As the number one business school in America, Wharton is quite competitive, and it’s in your best interest to present yourself as well as you can.

Wharton’s mission includes incubating innovations and ideas to transform the business landscape and shaping students into professional leaders who pursue positive change worldwide. While fitting the expectations outlined in the class profile, the ideal candidate will demonstrate an ability to nurture original thought and strive for professional excellence.

Utilize resources like an application review to ensure your attempt to get into Wharton MBA has the best possible chance of getting you an acceptance letter.

The next biggest takeaway from this article is that you as a student have plenty of strengths and insights to offer to Wharton’s MBA, and the Admissions Committee knows this. It is key to be genuine throughout the application process and trust that there is a good reason why your professional journey has led you to the Wharton MBA.

When you ponder how to get into the Wharton MBA program, know that being true to yourself is as important as your application. Be prepared, stay focused, and keep your career goals in mind. Wharton’s MBA could be the next big step in your business education.

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.
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