The 2019–2020 application year was truly the most tumultuous in my nearly 15 years of working in MBA admissions. Like you, we had to adjust to a lot of the challenges that COVID-19 presented. From test centers closing around the world to people juggling the demands of working remotely, a lot was going on in the last cycle.

During this time, we learned the importance of keeping things simple and removing some of the stress that comes with applying to business school.

With those lessons in mind, we looked at our Daytime MBA application and admissions process to see where we can streamline it for applicants, while still capturing all of the information our team needs to find the best students for Fuqua. With that being said, I am excited to share with you our new application deadlines and the following changes we have made to the 2020–2021 application.

Increased Focus Within the Essays

We understand the essay portion of the application is the most time-consuming, but it shares a lot of information about you that we cannot get from a test score or resume. We have streamlined it, and instead of two short-answer questions, you will only have to answer one short-answer question about your post-MBA goals.

We will retain our iconic “25 Random Things” essay, as we hear repeatedly from prospective students and applicants that the exercise is fun and allows for true self-reflection of what’s important to them and what makes them truly unique. By the way, it’s also our team’s favorite essay to read!

Our second essay will still ask you about how you plan to engage with the Fuqua community, but we would like you to limit it to the three most meaningful ways you expect to engage as a student. While there are so many opportunities available, one of the first skills you must develop as a student is how to prioritize what’s most important to you. There will also be a 300-word limit on this essay. Again, we hope this change helps you to focus on things that spark your interest, while also providing the Admissions Committee with helpful insights into the unique contributions you will bring to the class.

One Professional Recommendation Required

We recognize that collecting recommendation letters is one of the more stressful aspects of the application process. For starters, you have to let your manager or mentor know about your plans for business school, and you don’t have total control over when they submit the letters. However, we do offer a grace period after the application deadline has passed for your recommenders to submit.

To ease some of the stress on you, we will only require one professional letter of recommendation. The second letter of recommendation will be optional. When possible, we still would like to see a letter come from your current manager or supervisor. If you are unable to provide a recommendation from this person, we encourage you to let us know why in the optional essay section.

When it comes to selecting a recommender for your second optional letter of recommendation, we want you to think carefully about who is best positioned to speak to your teamwork, leadership, analytical, and strategic skills. It should come from someone who can provide new or different insights into your candidacy.

We will still continue to use the GMAC Common Letter of Recommendation to make the process as easy as possible for your recommender(s).

Executive Assessment Scores are Accepted

In the 2019–2020 application year, we began accepting an Executive Assessment (EA) score on a case-by-case basis after reviewing an applicant’s resume. 

Based on our experience with this exam during the last application cycle, we are confident that the EA exam is an accurate measure of aptitude for Daytime MBA applicants. This year you will be able to apply with an EA exam test score without approval.

We will continue to accept GMAT and GRE scores as well, and we don’t have a preference for one test over another.

Reapplicants Can Replicate Last Year’s Submission

Fuqua has always been a school that welcomes and respects students who want to reapply to the program. Since many applicants were, and continue to be impacted by COVID-19, we will offer the ability to replicate or ‘clone’ your application from the 2019–2020 application cycle if you submitted one.

What does this mean for you? Simply that we will copy over all the information you entered in last year’s application and put it into this year’s application, saving you a lot of time. You will only need to update information that has changed or any essays you would like to rewrite.

If you are reapplying, please contact our office via email at once the new application opens up, and request to have your data transferred over. Please note a “reapplicant” is only someone who applied for our Daytime MBA program in 2019–2020, not in a year previous to that.

Again, we hope that these changes will make your MBA application process easier, without us losing any information that highlights your contributions and uniqueness. An additional note is that we plan to provide opportunities during the interview for applicants to discuss how they will espouse the leadership traits of intelligence, empathy and decency, as Dean Bill Boulding has frequently discussed. We have all been through a lot over the last few months, and we think everyone could use a little help and a little relief. 

In the coming months, I encourage you to connect with our Fuqua community. Whether it is attending one of our virtual information sessions, scheduling a time to speak with an admissions counselor, or chatting with our students and alumni, you will learn about the value of a Duke MBA and what makes the Fuqua community so unique.

We are so excited to learn more about you and cannot wait to connect with you soon! In the meantime, check out this video for some additional application tips.