I have been in Admissions at Fuqua for almost 10 years, and I have to say that the start of a new application year is always exciting. Who will I meet through the application process this year? What will I learn? What individual transformations will I be witness to as I meet prospective students and watch them become applicants and ultimately members of Team Fuqua?

Among all the various responsibilities we have as Admissions staff members, shaping the incoming class is the most important. And the most fun. Our Admissions team takes great care to get to know each and every applicant as well as we can during the application process.

We are always looking for new and better ways to engage and to really help you understand The Duke MBA culture. More importantly, we want to know you authentically, and we work to refine our application as part of that “getting to know you” process.

For the 2015 – 2016 Daytime MBA application year, our team has made three key changes that we hope will improve the application experience for you while simultaneously helping us get to know you even better.

1. No English as a Second Language Test Requirement

Perhaps the biggest change to our application this year is that we are no longer requiring an English proficiency test (TOEFL, IELTS, PTE) for applicants whose native language is not English.

This is not because we don’t think English fluency important. To the contrary, we know that high English proficiency is critical to a student’s academic, extracurricular, and professional success. What we do believe, however, is that there are many other ways for us to gain an understanding of language proficiency.

Your essays, recommendations, GMAT/GRE scores, and your interview are all important points for the Admissions Committee to consider. These areas together give us great insight into whether you have the language skills required to succeed at Fuqua. If you, a non-native English speaker, have taken a language proficiency exam, we encourage you to submit those scores with your application. However, the scores are not required for your application to be considered complete.

It is our hope that this change will also make the application a little smoother for international students. It can be challenging to schedule these language exams, as dates and locations are sometimes sparse. We believe that this change will also make the MBA application process more accessible to applicants around the world.

2. Expansion of the Application Fee Waiver Program

Duke alumni at a Fuqua Admissions Information Session - Daytime MBA application changes

The ability to ask alumni questions, such as those seen on stage here in Shanghai, is one of the major benefits of attending an information session

We have always encouraged candidates to interact with us at information sessions, virtual information sessions, campus visits, open houses, and to connect with our alumni. We have also provided application fee reductions to applicants who attend an event or who submit a recommendation from a Fuqua alumnus.

This year, we are expanding the fee reduction into a fee waiver program. Attendees at any of the events listed above, as well as individuals providing an alumnus recommendation, will qualify for a full waiver of the application fee. By providing both in person and virtual event opportunities for a waiver, applicants from Alaska to Zimbabwe and everywhere in between can participate in a Duke MBA event and get to know Fuqua.

Encouraging participation in our events ultimately results in a pool of applicants who are more knowledgeable about Fuqua and who are committed to our values. Visit our Admissions events page for a listing of qualifying upcoming information sessions and the application instructions page for information on how to redeem your fee reduction.

3. More Space for Short Answer Essay Questions

Finally, we made the decision to double the amount of space provided for applicants to share career goals and plans. We are still keeping these answers short—maximum of 500 characters, up from 250—but you have a little more room to share details. Our intent is to allow those of you who may have unusual goals or a career switch extra space to explain your goals and motivations.

We are keeping our essay questions the same this year. The “25 Things” essay is an all-time staff and student favorite, and we are all looking forward to reading the lists this year. As many of our past blog posts have noted, this essay was designed so that you can share with us what makes you unique—what events, ideas, motivations, and influences have made you who you are today. We learn some pretty awesome things about you through this essay!

We are also keeping our same two choices for the second long essay this year. You can choose to share what you would tell your family and friends about why you want to come to Duke, or to write about which of the six Team Fuqua Principles you will embody as a student.

We hope you are excited to begin the application process for The Duke MBA—the online application is now live. We will look forward to meeting you, in person or virtually, during the application year!