From the Associate Director of Admissions: How to Prepare a Successful Application for the 2020-2021 Cycle
Emily Whitehouse offers advice for candidates who aspire to join the inaugural cohort of Master’s Degree in Asset Management students at Yale SOM.
Our team is hard at work putting the finishing touches on the application to the Yale School of Management’s newest program, the Master’s Degree in Asset Management. In anticipation of a late-September application launch, I’d like to offer guidance on how to best approach the admissions process, and also touch on special considerations during the global health crisis. From exploring program “fit” to preparing your résumé, I hope this advice proves helpful in your pursuit of an advanced degree and a meaningful career in investment management.
Determine if the Program is Right for You
The asset management program will provide early career students with a profound understanding of how to apply data science and quantitative techniques to investment decisions. The course will emphasize fiduciary responsibility and ethics, as well as investment performance.
Unlike master’s in finance (MFin) programs steeped in theory, our program explores both theory and application. Taught by both leading Yale SOM faculty and current industry practitioners, the program’s core focus is on forward-looking quantitative methods and new technologies emerging in a fast-developing field. Graduates of the program will be well prepared for positions across the investment industry.
We expect the opportunity to join the inaugural class will be particularly appealing to candidates who have the capacity to lead, candidates who are ambitious and excited to leverage the resources of a world-renowned institution—including the Yale Investments Office. It is safe to say the Yale SOM community is eagerly awaiting your arrival.
Communicate Your Interest in the Program
If pursuing the Master’s Degree in Asset Management is a path you’d like to explore, I encourage you to introduce yourself. This is the first step to learning more and will ensure you receive the latest news about the program, important dates, and application tips. You’ll also be the first to know about upcoming online events.
Yale is not hosting on-campus visitors during the fall semester due to the global health crisis, and our admissions team will not be traveling to major cities around the world to meet and interview candidates. However, we’ve found a silver lining to virtual events: they have democratized the recruiting process. Now all candidates across the globe have access to all of our events. We’re in the process of building out a number of events giving you access to the architects of the asset management program and the admissions committee, most of which will take place between October and December leading up to the January application deadline. In the meantime, I invite you to register for our kickoff event, the Program and Admissions Overview with Professor Tobias Moskowitz, the director of the program, on September 17. If you are not able to attend live, please register, and we will email you a recording of the event to view at your convenience.
Map It Out
In anticipation of the application launch, now is a great time to develop a strategy for how you can make progress on your application while juggling work and life commitments. Given complications presented by COVID-19, I’m advising prospective students differently than I have in previous years. First and foremost, start early.
Although you don’t have access to the application yet, there are components of the application that will come as no surprise and will be common requirements of any graduate degree program you might be considering. We will require unofficial transcripts from any college or university you’ve attended, a valid test score, two letters of recommendation, and your résumé.
We’ve learned in the previous admissions cycle that many university registrar offices are stretched thin due to the pandemic, causing transcript processing to be delayed. Therefore, I would encourage you to confirm you have access to unofficial copies of your transcripts and to request official copies as soon as possible. If your transcripts are not in English, you will need additional time to have them translated.
We require all applicants to submit either a GRE or GMAT score taken within five years of the application submission date. Due to the current public health crisis many candidates have taken the online tests offered by GMAC and ETS, and those test scores are perfectly acceptable for the asset management program application. If you haven’t taken the GMAT or GRE, or would like to retake the exam, now is a good time to research what is available in your area and reserve a test date between now and December 2020.
Remember we are all navigating new work-life schedules and priorities during the pandemic—including your recommenders. After transcripts and test scores, your next priority might be to identify from whom you’d like to request a recommendation. Schedule some time to speak with them about why you are applying to the program, and reflect on some of your experiences that you found most impactful to your growth. The conversation could serve as a primer for what your recommender might choose to share with the admissions committee in their recommendation. Give your recommenders plenty of time to complete the recommendation, more time than you feel is necessary.
And finally, we will require a résumé as part of your application. I would make this fourth on your checklist and wait until the application goes live to prepare it. Within the application we provide a résumé template if you’d like to use it. While it may pose a challenge to coalesce your experience onto one page, we feel strongly that the résumé should ground your application and be simple and easy to read.
If there are any gaps in your résumé or items that require context, please use the space provided in the optional statement section of the application to expand on them. Many of us have experienced changes to our roles, layoffs, hiring/promotion freezes, etc. Know that the admissions committee will be understanding of various unforeseen and uncontrollable circumstances in the current moment. Both you and your recommender (when applicable) might need to help us connect the dots, but this does not require another essay on your part, or an additional letter on their part. Use your best judgement for when a simple explanation or context is required to communicate your story in the optional statement section.
Separate from my advice on any one element of the application, I’d like to offer a quick piece of advice about the process in general. In the coming months, remember to take time to reflect on your experiences and refine your goals. Recall your most challenging experiences, your more meaningful successes, and what you’ve learned from others. Think about what gaps you want to fill, what experiences you want to have, and how you’d like to position yourself. Regular reflection is a good exercise in general, but will be particularly helpful in the application process, preparing your essay, and preparing for interviews.
What Are My Chances?
As a final note, you may be wondering how competitive the application process will be this year. You may know that the Master’s Degree in Asset Management was slated to launch this month but we made the difficult decision to postpone the start of the program to fall 2021 due to consequences of the pandemic. This means some seats in the inaugural class are reserved by students admitted in the previous application cycle who elected to continue their pursuit of the asset management program and defer their enrollment to fall 2021. Although it’s hard to predict what the application pool will look like this year, we do anticipate admitting a similar number of candidates as we did last year. Therefore, I can confidently say that if you aspire to be at the Yale School of Management next year, learning from renowned faculty and practicing investment managers, this year continues to be a great time to apply.
I hope these insights prove useful in your research and your approach to the application. I’m eager to engage with you in the coming months through our online events, introducing you to our community and guiding you through the application process. In addition to the tips above, I encourage you to visit our website to learn more, not only about the program and curriculum but also about the greater Yale community. If you have any questions along the way, please don’t hesitate to email us. My colleagues and I look forward to receiving your application and getting to know you!
Associate Director for Admissions, Management Master’s Programs
Yale School of Management
PO Box 208200 l 165 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, CT 06520