Round 1: October 4th, 2017
Round 2: January 4th, 2018
Round 3: March 9th, 2018
The school rolled out a new curriculum in the fall of 2012 to impose more training in leadership and writing, and to teach core subject areas such as finance, marketing, and operations in a more integrated fashion. These changes come along with the appointment of a new dean who has pledged to raise the school’s rather timid profile in recent years. Dean Bob Dammon, who had been on the school’s faculty since 1984, has pledged to lead a more aggressive effort to publicize and market the school’s strengths, raise more money to house Tepper in a larger facility, and increase the size of its relatively small MBA program by 50% to some 300 students.
For a business school that has produced eight Nobel Prize winners, Tepper has been surprisingly circumspect in tooting its horn. As Dammon told The Wall Street Journal shortly after his appointment as dean in May of 2011, “We don’t talk about it much to the external marketplace, and I am going to change that. If we are going to be recognized for the quality of the program, we need to make sure the outside world knows about us. And if we want to move up in the rankings, that’s also a necessity. I want to be as visible as I possibly can.”
The new curriculum includes a BaseCamp exercise during orientation that immediately teaches students how the key disciplines of business come together in an integrated manner. “In Base, we give students the 30,000-foot view of business and how finance, marketing and operations fit together,” Dammon tells Poets&Quants. Incoming MBA students, among other things, study Amazon.com from the financial, marketing and operations perspectives and learn how each discipline supports the e-commerce giant’s overall strategy. “When students get into the core classes, they now understand the importance of each discipline to the health of the overall company and how those things come together.”
The core curriculum, which pretty much absorbs the entire first year, begins with a solid foundation in what Tepper describes as the three fundamental scientific disciplines – economics, behavioral sciences, and quantitative methods. The school doesn’t separate incoming students into cohorts that move through all these courses together. This approach is why the school sees itself as a smaller and more intimate academic cousin to Chicago Booth and MIT Sloan, though those rivals have far greater resources, stature and prestige among the major MBA players. What Dammon is hoping to correct is the notion that Tepper is merely a quant school overflowing with engineering types with high IQ but relatively low EQ.
As one recent Tepper graduate put it, “the ‘quant’ reputation of the school can be a double-edged sword. Two-thirds of the student class will come from an engineering background, so you cannot draw upon the varied business experiences of others, as this is probably their first exposure to business education, culture, and corporate environment. This can also lead employers to look at Tepper as a pool of students to fill the more technical or back office support roles in their businesses. Additionally, there is a learning curve for interpersonal soft skills for those from more technical backgrounds. So even though students are very bright, they may not appear to be as polished as their peers from competing business schools.”
All of this background makes the new curriculum changes, where were beta-tested on about 100 graduates in the Class of 2012, far more relevant. The alterations were informed by surveys of students, alumni and employers who believe the school could do more to prepare Tepper MBAs in the soft skills of managing and leadership. New students are now given a four-hour test assessment that measures their abilities as managers on nine different dimensions. Then, a customized action plan is put together for each student and bolstered through one-on-one coaching throughout the course of the two-year program. “Other schools all have leadership courses where you sit with 70 people to study leadership,” says Dammon. “But we are giving students a customized program of coaching and workshops that extends throughout their full two years.”
The school made room for the new leadership and communication sessions by expanding its entering base camp to three weeks from two and by shaving half a week from its mini-semester format so that each mini is now six and one-half weeks rather than seven. That said, Dammon wants to retain what is best about the school. “We take an analytical approach to the MBA,” he tells Poets&Quants. “We think that really gives students the skills they need to tackle a very complex world. This is critical. We are a rigorous program. We don’t want people who don’t want to work hard. We have two years to prepare people for a 40-year career. That is a challenge. The best way to do that is to give them the skills that will help them solve problems today and many years moving forward. So we teach the quant and analytical skills to understand the world and the leadership skills to change the world.”
Nice sound bite there. Still, this is a seriously research-focused institution. In fact, Tepper has one of the largest PhD programs in business, with nearly 100 students. Dammon says Tepper boasts the largest Phd student to faculty ratio of any of the top business schools. In any given year, the school will admit between 12 and 15 PhD students who each get a tuition-free education and an annual stipend of $25,000. That commitment to train PhDs, largely for other schools, costs Tepper $6 to $7 million a year.
In any case, the flexibility of the second year curriculum—virtually all elective courses—continues to offer students the opportunity to further integrate what they’ve learned, to explore the areas in which their career interests lie, and to gain additional breadth across management areas. The school offers more than 120 electives in various areas. All students also have a capstone course requirement. Among recent choices available to Tepper students was an A.T. Kearney project where the consulting firm brings in 15 to 18 of its clients who bring projects for student teams to tackle over a 12-week period. Another capstone sponsored by Deloitte Consulting had a group of MBAs attempt to figure out what millenmials are looking for in cars.
Three months after graduation, 92 percent of the MBAs in the Class of 2012 had received a job offer, marking another strong year of recruiting. The mean salary for the MBAs in the class of 2012 is $107,700, a record-high for the Tepper School.
This year’s high employment rate, combined with a 91 percent rate for 2011, marks a return to the robust levels that were the norm before the recession hit, said Stephen Rakas, executive director of the Career Opportunities Center at the Tepper School. “We ended another successful recruiting year despite the lagging economy,” he said. “Tepper students are performing very well in the job market.”
The Employment Report of the MBA Class of 2012 also revealed a shift in career focus. Thirty percent of the class found a job in consulting, where the starting salary averages about $122,000. Tepper School MBAs also gravitated toward jobs in marketing functions (25 percent) and the high technology (21 percent) and biopharma healthcare industries (10 percent).”We are moving ahead as a school in consulting, technology and health care,” Rakas said. “We have one of the highest percentages of biopharma health care of any top MBA school.”
While job offers in those fields grew, those in the financial sector declined to 19 percent, down from about 40 percent in its heyday. “That reflects a shift in all of the top MBA programs,” Rakas said. “I speak with a lot of colleagues. There are just not as many opportunities in financial services, nor do we see the same level of interest from many students.”
The job offers are already flowing into the MBAs in the Class of 2013. As of the end of October, 50 percent of the second year MBAs had a job offer in hand, compared to 38 percent during the same time last year.
The Tepper school of Business attracts many Indian applicants. ‘Don’t they all?’ you might say. Sure they do, but the Tepper MBA is special, because of Carnegie Mellon University. CMU has been an all time favourite with desi techies who’ve been attending CMU for ages in pursuit of a top MS degree and of course for undergrad courses as well. The Tepper School of Business builds upon that legacy.
When folks who’ve not been successful in their earlier attempts approach MBA Crystal Ball for help, just like the candidates, we feel the extra pressure too. We hope applicants see significant value in working with us. And when the admissions journey ends on a good note, it gives us tremendous satisfaction. Ritwik shares one such story and walks us through his emotions as he went through each phase.
Carnegie Mellon (CMU) MBA Tepper School of Business
Tepper MBA: How I Got My Candy! – by Ritwik Verma
December 2009:“With a sub-par score of 680, where should I apply? Anyway, as I don’t want to take the GMAT again, let me apply to the schools where I have sent my score. Ross, Duke, Kellogg etc. I want to go into FMCG marketing from IT services and I need the best school for that.
I will write the essays myself; I am so creative after all. I don’t have the experience in my desired industry but what the heck, I can convince them with my reasons.
I worry that my manager and team leader won’t write me a strong recommendation. Why not ask them to forward the recommendation link and I will submit it on their behalf. Yeah, I think I will be able to get something if I just try.”
This was my thought process for my first MBA application. What I did then could easily classify as points under the ‘Don’t List’ for an MBA application strategy.
May 2010:“What went wrong??? All rejects?!!! I think I am not made for an MBA. Let me just forget about it.”
It hurt when I received rejections from all the schools but I had to take the failure in my stride and move on with life.
June 2012:“I have to get an MBA! This job won’t take me anywhere. I think I have what it takes to get through. I just need some help. This time I am going to leave no stone unturned to come up with a fool proof strategy. Let me focus on the first hurdle – the GMAT.”
By June 2012, I was fanatically sure that I wanted an MBA. I was determined to get into a good business school and was ready to give my 150% to achieve this goal. My first focus was the GMAT.
July 2012:“Hmm… Which are the good GMAT coaching institutes in Bangalore? I had screwed up my Verbal last time. I need to crack verbal this time. Crack Verbal! Hmmmm….”
I took GMAT coaching for 2 months at CrackVerbal – Bangalore (related page: CrackVerbal GMAT Online Course Reviews). Prepared a detailed study plan and most importantly, stuck to it. Meanwhile, took a GMAT appointment for 4 October which, if you ask me, was a bit late. Ideally, I should have started early and written the GMAT before September.
August 2012:“GMAT… Let’s see… Quant…Verbal…Verbal…Verbal…Verbal…What about the B-schools??? I must start shortlisting the schools now. Wikipedia…Businessweek Rankings… 20 to 30 B Schools.
All say the same thing – Awesome faculty; Close-knit community; Strong focus on your career; Great experiential learning; Leadership – only ABC is the way to learn it!!! CONFUSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
If I say that I was confused about the school selection, it would be an understatement. With so many good schools and hardly any idea about what sets them apart, I was bewildered. I needed some guidance on school selection strategy. Moreover, with an expected GMAT score of 710-720 I needed a profile evaluation too.
September 2012:“Gosh! It’s a jungle out there. I need to have a map to take the right path for my MBA application journey. MAP… Hmmmm…”
I came to hear about the Mock Application Process (MAP) offered by MBA Crystal Ball and immediately knew that it was something that I desperately needed. The MBA MAP not only helped me assess myself from an admission committee’s perspective but also taught me a lot about my post-MBA goals.
To be honest, I had very little idea about what I wanted to do after an MBA. Discussing post-MBA plans with Sameer, I realized the right way to look at the career options after an MBA.
I also realized why I came a cropper with my previous application attempt!
The MBA MAP explained one thing very clearly to me – MBA application is a game and you have to play with the rules. There is a big scope for personal touch but within the boundaries. Whims and fantasies about an MBA or post-MBA goals won’t lead you anywhere.
With the goals clear in my mind, I selected the B-Schools – 2 Ambitious, 2 Stretch, and 1 Practical. And then arrived October with GMAT…
October 2012:“Oh look, who’s here! Mr. GMAT. I hope you treat me well this time, sir… Just let me cross that 700 boundary, please… Practice… Practice… Practice and some more practice… Will I be able to do it???”
Yes, I did it! I got a score of 750 in the GMAT which was the highest that I had got in any of my tests, so I was ecstatic. That took a big load off my chest. But after the MAP, I had realized that GMAT is just a component, and the next and the biggest hurdle were the essays.
I resorted to MBA Crystal Ball’s expertise again. I took the MBA essay editing service and started working with MG.
In the brainstorming session, while discussing about my past achievements and post-MBA aspirations I could see a strong story emerging. I realized how and where I should use my professional achievements and extra-curricular interests to support my story.
During the MBA essay writing process, I received unwavering support from MG who not only corrected my mistakes but also improved the quality of the content with better language and expressions. The best part about the whole process was that I was able to keep my personal flavor along with a very impressive language.
I applied to Kellogg and Tepper in October in the first round. Kellogg and Tepper both had been my ambitious schools and I had never thought of actually getting in them. I knew that there were more practical and realistic schools for me in line for which I would prepare and apply in the second round.
November 2012: “I cannot believe my eyes!!! Is it really addressed to me? Am I really invited for an interview with Tepper admission committee? Wow!!!”
I couldn’t believe my eyes while reading the interview invitation from Tepper. It was a dream to read such a mail ever since I was in the final year of my college. As I had already got an interview waiver from Kellogg which is the default option for many international applicants, Tepper’s interview invitation was the first indication that someone somewhere in the great US of A had liked my application. I knew that my application strategy had worked so far.
Without leaving any room for error, I sat down to prepare for the interview process – scanned my application a thousand times, YouTube videos on Carnegie Mellon (including 1 hour video of their International Festival), sample interview questions, numerous mails to some of the current students with whom I had been in touch with.
Finally the day arrived and I attended the interview in my calm and cool self. The interviewer was quite friendly. Most importantly, I was ‘me’ throughout the interview but followed a tight script while answering the questions.
6:00 am 20 December 2012: “Please…God…Please…”
Kellogg’s denial two days ago had left me shattered. More so because I had finally received an interview invitation and had a telephonic interview which was a positive sign. And here I was sitting on my computer at 6 in the morning (midnight according to My Standard Time). The result for Tepper was due on 19th evening US time.
With drowsy eyes, sleepy fingers I logged into my email. There was a mail from Tepper. There was something written about exciting news with a link in the mail. I didn’t pay much attention to the subject line and immediately clicked on the link. A flash video popped up with the magic words… “Congratulations! You are in!!!!!”
There are very few instances in life when a massively joyous moment explodes in a span of milliseconds. It was one such moment. I was ecstatic, on top of the world, in fact on top of the chair too. It was time for celebrations!
Here’s the icing on the cake. I also got an admit from UNC Kenan Flagler!
And there’s more. Last week, I also got an admission offer from Simon. I applied to Simon in Round 3 after one of the ad-com members contacted me saying I stand a great chance for scholarship. I got an application fee waiver, TOEFL waiver and even GMAT waiver! (In the sense that they didn’t need official scores to be sent through GMAC, and were happy with the official score report). So, it was a free application for me! As it turned out, I got an admission with 50% Scholarship (equivalent to $ 48k). :-)
And the ISB admit came in today!
Even in the wake of this additional good news, Tepper still stands tall :-)
This time, I am sure that my MBA application story will be more of a Karan Johar movie than a Guru Dutt movie and there are many who I want to thank for that.
First of all – my wife who supported me not just emotionally but even with school search, GMAT and interview preparation, Arun Jagannathan for his magical touch to my GMAT preparation, Sameer for teaching me everything about the international MBA game, its rules, and how to win it, and last but not the least – MG for adding his ‘Midas touch’ to my MBA essays and turning them into gold! Thanks a lot!!!
What this MBA blog post doesn’t reveal is that Ritwik is multi-talented. He is the brain behind the concept, script and music in the video trailer of the best-selling novel – Business Doctors.
He would be happy to take your questions about the Tepper MBA rankings, class profile, tuition, scholarships, GMAT or anything other related topic. Join in here –> Tepper School of Business MBA forum.
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