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Evaluation Criteria

As we build each class, we seek the most promising students in terms of intellectual vitality, demonstrated leadership potential, and personal qualities and contributions.

We base our evaluation on the totality of information available. No single factor—whether your college performance, essay, test scores, interview, letters of reference, or work experience—is decisive. We consider each application holistically, and take into account factors such as your background, experiences, perspectives, fit with Stanford GSB and its MBA Program, aspirations, values, and accomplishments.

Intellectual Vitality

In assessing intellectual vitality, we believe that your attitude toward learning is as important as your aptitude. We hope that your application will convey your passion, dedication, and genuine interest in expanding your intellectual horizons.

We also consider the initiative with which you seek out opportunities that enhance your knowledge. We want to understand your willingness to master concepts that may not be immediately relevant to your intended career, to carve your path in ambiguous environments, and to support the school’s goal of developing knowledge that deepens and advances the practice of management.

Demonstrated Leadership Potential

As we review your application, we are considering your leadership potential as demonstrated through your personal character and professional competence.

Your personal character matters not only because integrity is the cornerstone of any academic community, but also because of the vast responsibility our society places on leaders of businesses and social-sector organizations. As a result, we look for evidence of behaviors consistent with your ideals, even under difficult circumstances—a sort of directed idealism.

We want to understand your personal motivation and convictions, and your ability to confront complex, unfamiliar issues with good judgment. We also try to uncover the ways in which challenges to your beliefs may have changed some of your perspectives and reinforced others.

In understanding your professional competence, we look for both leadership experience and potential. In doing so, we don’t limit ourselves to your professional life. Neither should you. We look at your background for evidence of the ways you have influenced the people and organizations around you, and the way those experiences have shaped you.

We look for evidence of your desire to make a lasting impact in the organizations you serve throughout your career, inspiring and motivating your colleagues.

We consider your awareness of what you do well and the areas in which you can improve, and your openness to feedback. Ultimately, we gauge your commitment to utilizing fully your opportunities and available resources.

Personal Qualities & Contributions

The strongest applications we see are those in which your thoughts and voice remain intact. The Stanford MBA experience relies on authenticity among students. To understand how you will contribute to and benefit from the University community, we need to know who you are, not simply what you have done. Your experiences, beliefs, passions, dreams, and ambitions will help form the Stanford community.

Take time to reflect on who you are, and have confidence in yourself. We always remember that there is neither an “ideal” candidate nor a “typical” Stanford MBA student. You should remember this, too.

While the Stanford GSB community does include students who have pursued incomparable opportunities, most Stanford MBA students have excelled by doing ordinary things extraordinarily well. What you make of an experience matters to us, not simply the experience itself.

Last Updated 6 Jun 2016