How to get into MIT Sloan’s full-time MBA program

BY Sydney LakeJuly 22, 2021, 02:00 am
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Although the MIT Sloan School of Management doesn’t disclose the acceptance rate for its full-time MBA program, it’s no secret that earning admission there is a challenge. The school is consistently ranked as one of the top in the country—and it’s no different on Fortune’s list of best full-time MBA programs, where it lands in spot No. 8.

Beyond having a quant-focused curriculum, Sloan is a mission-driven business school, admissions officials and consultants agree. Every MBA program has a personality, and Sloan’s is “extremely collaborative,” describes Dawna Levenson, MIT Sloan’s assistant dean of the office of admissions.

“It’s roll-up-your-sleeves, and solve the world’s biggest problems, and make the world a better place,” she adds.

MIT Sloan has a comparatively short application for its full-time MBA program. In place of open-ended essay questions, applicants are asked to write just one 300-word cover letter. In lieu of multiple video essays, the school requires a one-minute introductory video submission. Aside from test scores, a résumé, and a letter of recommendation, those are the few chances that applicants have to impress the admissions committee ahead of an interview invitation.

So what type of applicants are accepted to Sloan? “They’re always really looking at how people have taken their talents and put them into action,” says Julie Strong, who previously served as the senior director of MBA admissions at MIT Sloan. She now works as a principal consultant for The MBA Exchange, which offers application consulting services to MBA prospects.

The cover letter

Just like applying for a job, MIT Sloan applicants are asked to submit a cover letter “seeking a place” in the program. Applicants must respond differently from how they would to an open-ended essay question. 

The letter needs to include professional examples showing leadership, intellectual ability, and impact—all in 300 words or less. It must be written as standard business correspondence and addressed to the admissions committee. Applicants are also asked to submit an organizational chart with their cover letter that illustrates their position in the company. It can’t just be a generic outline from their company’s website.

The best advice for writing the cover letter? “Be precise,” advises Natalie Lahiff, an MBA admissions consultant with Solomon Admissions. It’s important to include information about why you’re applying, what you can contribute—but also portray your leadership and collaboration skills. “If you don’t play nice with other people, business school probably isn’t the best choice for you.”

You in a nutshell

One of the more unique—and important—portions of the MIT Sloan MBA application process is the video statement. 

“I would look at the cover letter, the résumé, and the 60-second video together as a little bit of a package that helps really describe your overall candidacy,” Levenson says. The résumé focuses on the candidate’s work history, the video shows your more personal side, and the cover letter ties it all together.

For the video, applicants are asked to introduce themselves to their future classmates, but no other concrete instructions are given for the video—aside from making it a single take without edits, background music, or subtitles.

“Other than written communication, there’s really no way for [admissions officers] to see your personality,” Lahiff says. “They really want to just know what you’re passionate about, what’s driving you to come to MIT Sloan and get this MBA, and what are you going to contribute to the class, what are you going to bring to the table.”

Strong, who now works with an MBA admissions consultancy, compares the video to a television commercial. She says that it needs to be specific and detailed in a short period of time. 

Strong has seen applicants record their video while out on a bike ride or in front of a collection that’s something important to them. Overall, the written components of the application plus the interview should leave admissions counselors wanting more.

“The goal of the application is not to get admitted,” Strong says. “The goal of the application is to get that interview invitation.”

Scores and recs

Just like other top programs, MIT Sloan will certainly take test scores, undergraduate GPA, and years of work experience into consideration. Last year, the average incoming Sloan MBA student had a 720 GMAT score and a 3.49 undergraduate GPA. 

Scores are important, Lahiff says, but they’re not the be–all and end–all

“They want you to have a good working foundation and that breadth of experience before you come into the program,” she says. “You need to be able to contribute to the class discussions and bring something to the table.”

One thing Lahiff says could make or break your application, however, is your recommendation letter. Your recommender needs to be able to attest to your skills and your leadership through specific examples. 

“The best recommender is someone who is going to invest the time to write a detailed recommendation, who is your champion for you pursuing business school, who understands why you want to go, who has worked with you closely enough,” Levenson adds.

The interview

Compiling a strong written application (and your 60-second video) will set you up for the opportunity to be invited to interview with an MIT Sloan admissions official. Going into each application cycle, there is no set number of applicants who will be asked to interview, Levenson says. 

The interview for MIT Sloan’s full-time MBA program primarily includes behavioral questions. The best way to prepare for the interview, admissions experts say, is to be introspective. Think of examples and stories that illustrate your leadership skills and times when you’ve made an impact.

MIT Sloan wants to see evidence of applicants living out their mission statement: “To develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice.”

“Today’s problems are big and complex,” Levenson says. “They require lots of different skill sets and lots of different people with different backgrounds and perspectives.”

See how the MBA programs you’re considering landed in Fortune’s ranking of best full-time and online programs.

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