If you are an MBA hopeful, you must know the Stanford Graduate School of Business (Stanford GSB). It is one of the Magnificent 7 (M7) graduate schools of the US and is also consistently ranked among the best business schools worldwide. The chance seems small when you look at the latest acceptance rate for Stanford’s class of 2022 of 5.95%. But all it takes is just sufficient school research, and a thoroughly planned application practice – things we are offering in this article.

1. Stanford MBA – Everything to know before applying

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Stanford GSB – the graduate business school of Stanford University, is offering one of the most selective MBA programs worldwide, admitting only 6% of applicants every year on average. Stanford MBA graduates are among the most sought-after candidates for their leadership abilities, communication skills, and strategic-thinking mindset. Stanford even confidently claims collaboration and innovation to be within their DNA.

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford is said to be a natural incubator for great ideas, especially in the tech industry. However, it should not be assumed that Stanford is a school for techies only, as Finance and Consulting are also among the most popular post-MBA industries for Stanford graduates (33% and 18%, compared to Tech of 24%), according to its Employment Report 2019.

Stanford GSB is also renowned to have produced a remarkable number of great leaders and entrepreneurs, many of which are among the world’s wealthiest. This alumni community, topping positions in big companies like HP, PayPal, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. is one key selling point of the school, and also one inspiration for high-achieving MBA hopefuls. A glance through its alumni base and you can catch the names of:

  • Phil Knight, Billionaire Founder and Chairman of Nike
  • Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland and the former Director of the London School of Economics
  • Richard Fairbank, American billionaire businessman and founder of Capital One
  • John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States of America
  • Laurene Powell Jobs billionaire widow of Apple, Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs
  • Henry A. McKinnell, business executive and former CEO of Pfizer Inc.

Stanford GSB programs

The most popular degree at Stanford GSB is the two-year MBA program – the full-time, residential course of study that leads to a general management degree. It’s where high-achieving professionals develop their vision and enhance the skills needed to achieve it. The Stanford MBA degree is ideal for mid-career professionals with leadership potential aiming to gain more leverage, to launch or accelerate their careers in the business world. The fact that it provides such a broad business base for students enables them to ultimately use these skills in any function or industry. 

Whereas, the MSx degree and the Ph.D. degree have totally different target groups: The MSx targets accomplished leaders, lasting for only one year, whereas the Ph.D. offers great intensity and focus within an academic field to develop outstanding scholars for careers in research and teaching.

The later part of this article is dedicated to admissions to the Stanford two-year MBA program only.

Stanford MBA curriculum

The Stanford MBA program is intentionally built to prepare you with all the skills, disciplines, and perspectives needed as a global general manager, and at the same time provide you with chances to explore and dig deeper into specific subjects. 

Year one begins with building your general management knowledge and global exposure. The core courses (including Ethics, Finance, Accounting, Leadership & Management, Organizational Behavior) help you understand larger management context and enhance your leadership style. In the summer, first-year students are also required to be involved in global management (the Global Experience Requirement) through study trips or working at global organizations.

Year two experience is pretty much in the hands of students since you can tailor the program through electives, seminars, a joint or dual degree, and courses at other Stanford schools. To ensure well-rounded general managers with proficient expertise in specific fields, Stanford constantly adds new electives and substantially revises existing topics every year, including Accounting, Entrepreneurship, IT, Finance, Marketing, Operations, Political Economics, Public Management,… to name just a few. You can take up to 18 courses in total from over 100 elective courses across 10 academic departments. Cross-register for courses at other Stanford Grad schools are also applicable, for areas of Arts, Computer science, Design, Education, Energy, Health care, Politics, etc.

Stanford deferred MBA

The Stanford Deferred MBA program is almost exactly similar to a normal MBA, but with an important difference in the starting date. This program grants pre-admission to students 2 years in advance, with requirements that they have full-time employment in these 2 years, before attending the school. This deferred MBA program is tailored towards final-year undergrads – those who are unsure about when exactly to matriculate. Despite the common misconception of the deferred path being less competitive than the direct path, it’s actually the other way around. Final-year students having internship experience at big firms, having started up projects or companies of their own, being an active member in their community… – typical profiles of applicants for the MBA deferred program are just as stellar as for the full-time program. 

2. Stanford MBA class profile

The most complete report available on the class profile of Stanford MBA is of Class of 2022, available on the school’s website:

  • Total applicants: 7,324
  • New students: 436
  • Women: 47%
  • International: 35%
  • US students of color: 37%
  • Countries represented: 66
  • Languages spoken: 70
  • Undergraduate major: 44% Humanities & Social Sciences, 37% Engineering, Math & Natural Sciences, 18% Business
  • Average GPA: 3.8
  • Hold advanced degree: 14%
  • Average years of exp: 4.7
  • Top 3 pre-MBA careers: Investment Management/PE&VC (20%), Consulting (17%), Technology (14%)
  • GMAT: 733, ranging from a low 600 to 790
  • GRE: 165 Verbal, 164 Quant
  • TOEFL: 113, ranging from 107 to 118
  • Source: Stanford GSB Website
  • This is the Class of 2022 profile information as of 30 September 2020
  • The school claims this is simply a reflection of its most recent class, and does not define the composition of future class

3. Stanford MBA admission 2021-2022

For the intake of 2021 and 2022, admissions for Stanford GSB are expected to be more competitive, as a result of the global pandemic situation. Stanford started to allow students to defer their 2020 enrollment to the fall of 2021 or the fall of 2022 due to visa problems, hence the shrink in the number of applicants actually admitted in these following years. This, alongside the fact that the MBA degree is specifically more appealing as a career accelerator compared to the traditional path now being frozen by COVID-19, makes the admissions competition more intense.

Before preparing for your application, make sure you’ve checked through Stanford’s official response to COVID-19. In general, Stanford GSB has been applying a very strict approach in tone and execution against the spread of COVID-19. Their guidelines involve the canceling of on-campus information sessions, class visits, and school tours, and only those permitted get to enter the Academic Campus Zone. This prevents MBA hopefuls to visit their dream school, but Stanford has quickly responded to this need by producing the Virtual Tour for the class of 2024, have a look!

4. Stanford Essay Questions and Analysis

Essay A: What matters most to you, and why?

For this essay, we would like you to reflect deeply and write from the heart. Once you’ve identified what matters most to you, help us understand why. You might consider, for example, what makes this so important to you? What people, insights, or experiences have shaped your perspectives?

Essay B: Why Stanford?

Describe your aspirations and how your Stanford GSB experience will help you realize them. If you are applying to both the MBA and MSx programs, use Essay B to address your interest in both programs.

LENGTH: Both essays combined may not exceed 1,150 words. We recommend up to 750 words for Essay A and up to 400 words for Essay B. We often find effective essays written in far fewer words.

5. Stanford MBA application

Application deadline

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