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From the Assistant Dean of Admissions: My Top Insights into the Application Process

Bruce DelMonico shares the greatest hits from his Inbox Application Insights email series.

Some of you are already familiar with Inbox Application Insights (“IAI”), an email series where I share application tips and advice with candidates in the month leading up to our application deadline. But with less than a month to go before our January 5 Round 2 application deadline, I thought I'd share a “greatest hits” summary of my IAI advice for those who don’t receive the emails or would like a refresher.

The insights below focus on the application elements you will be working on before you submit your application. But the IAI series continues past the application deadline to address post-submission aspects of the process; to make sure you don’t miss any tips, complete your profile here.

You may also want to check out some of our additional applications resources, including our Application Guide and our recently recorded events, Our Best Application Advice and Inside the Application, Literally.

 I hope you’ll find these resources helpful. We look forward to reading your application!

The Essay

We have one required essay question: Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made.


  • The Admissions Committee is not making value judgements about what commitment you choose. The key is not which commitment you think we’ll think is the best, but which is the most significant to you. And the commitment can be either personal or professional in nature.
  • Regardless of what commitment you choose, the most important aspect of the essay is to describe in detail the behaviors that demonstrate that commitment. Point to the specific actions that you have taken over time in support of your commitment.
  • You don’t need to explain how the commitment connects with why you want to get an MBA, either in general or at Yale; there are other places to do that.
  • Don’t forget to proofread!

Letters of Recommendation

If you haven’t already done so, now is a good time to speak to your recommenders about writing a recommendation on your behalf.


  • We care more about the quality of the relationship you have with your recommender than the title they hold. A supervisor who knows you well will provide us with the most meaningful perspective on your accomplishments, experiences, and professional background. (Note that we allow recommenders to submit their recommendations in Spanish or Mandarin.)
  • It's usually a good idea to have a conversation with your chosen recommenders to prepare them and to reflect on some of the experiences you have had while working with them.
  • We encourage applicants to have at least one recommendation from a current supervisor. However, there are several reasons why you might not be able to secure a current supervisor recommender. In this case, you should mention this fact in the optional essay, and we would suggest you look to your most recent former supervisor as the next best option.
  • Entrepreneurs and employees of family businesses may want to consider getting recommendations from clients, vendors, suppliers, board members, or VC funders.

Your Academic Profile

One of the main things the Admissions Committee is assessing in your MBA application is your preparation for the Yale SOM classroom. We make this assessment by looking at a combination of application elements, most notably your undergraduate (and, if applicable, graduate school) transcripts and your standardized test scores, as well as to a lesser extent our Behavioral Assessment.


  • Your undergraduate record and standardized test scores are both strong predictors of your performance in the MBA classroom, but those are just two data points. We look at your entire application in combination and don’t assign a fixed weight to any element.
  • We encourage applicants to focus less on our median GMAT or GRE score and look instead at the range of scores represented across each class. By definition, half the class is below the median, so using it as a benchmark can be misleading.
  • We don’t have a preference between the GMAT and GRE.
  • When evaluating academics, how well you performed in college is much more predictive than where you went to school. We also look at far more than just your overall GPA, and will spend a good deal of time going semester by semester, looking at each of the courses you’ve taken and your performance in them.
  • After submitting your application, all applicants complete our Behavioral Assessment, a non-cognitive instrument that measures a set of intra- and interpersonal competencies related to success in business school. We introduced this assessment to better predict academic success for applicants who may not demonstrate academic preparation based on traditional metrics such as grades and scores but who would make strong contributions to the classroom. It's meant to give the Admissions Committee a fuller picture of each applicant and helps us broaden the scope of our evaluation and expand the range of candidates whom we can admit.

Career Interests

We don’t need a detailed roadmap of your future professional life, but we do hope that you’ve thought directionally about how your graduate management studies will launch you into your desired post-MBA career.


  • The Admissions Committee is well aware that many (in fact, most) MBA students pursue something different than what they expressed in their application. We don’t base admissions decisions on what you say you want to do after your MBA: those goals are highly variable and very fluid.
  • A good Career Interests response will focus not just on what your post-MBA goals are, but on where they came from, how you’ve developed them, and how you’re positioning yourself to achieve them. The key is reflection and strong self-awareness.
  • Your career interests will likely come up again in your interview. Your interviewer will ask you more about your interests in an MBA and what you hope to accomplish post-MBA. So you will have another chance to expand on some details that you might not have been able to include in the written parts of the application.

Bruce DelMonico
Assistant Dean for Admissions

Admissions Office
Yale School of Management
165 Whitney Avenue
Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
203.432.5635, Admissions Office
203.432.6380, Visitor Center
fax 203.432.7004