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 your whole application, and take into account factors such as your background, experiences, perspectives, aspirations, values, and accomplishments. No single component — whether your academic performance, essays, test scores, letters of reference, work experience, or interview — determines your admission decision.

Our students and alumni don’t all fit in one mold, and we don’t expect candidates to, either.

Intellectual Vitality

Stanford University’s pioneering spirit creates an environment where we approach problems from interdisciplinary perspectives; teach using multiple methodologies; and embrace collaboration to explore new points of view.

In assessing intellectual vitality, we believe you are far more than your GPA or standardized test scores. While we do review these to assess your readiness for our academic program, we look beyond them to consider your interest in seeking new knowledge or expertise; your willingness to test and challenge assumptions; and your ability to develop new ideas or perspectives.

As you complete your application, please think about the times you have taken initiative to learn new things, to solve challenging problems, or to develop new insights. What have you discovered? How did you share what you learned? Why does it matter to you and others? We would like to hear about these experiences to help us understand how you might engage within our classrooms.

Demonstrated Leadership Potential

Our motto is “change lives, change organizations, change the world.” Since we believe that past actions are the best predictor of future actions, we want to hear about how you have created positive change in the organizations and communities in which you have been involved. Whether you helped someone on your team tackle a new task or identified a new way to improve a process, we look for evidence of how you have influenced those around you.

The leadership behaviors we seek when evaluating your application include: strategic thinking, initiative, persistence, results orientation, engaging others, and developing others. In your application, we are looking for times when you have used these behaviors to create impact or change.

You have an opportunity to describe your activities, interests, and professional experience in designated sections of your application and in your resume. Your recommenders also will provide information about your contributions in their letters of reference. In addition, if you would like to expand on anything you’ve done and why you think it is meaningful, you are welcome to use the optional short-answer question in the application.

Personal Qualities & Contributions

To understand how you will contribute to the Stanford community, we’d like to know who you are, not simply what you have done. Your values, beliefs, identity, passions, experiences, and ambitions will help shape the perspectives of your classmates and enrich our community.

We provide the opportunity for you to share what matters most to you and your aspirations in your essays. We are interested in how your background has shaped your path so far and has guided your dreams for the future.

We seek to admit candidates who bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the MBA class because we believe that Stanford’s collaborative educational process leverages the breadth of students’ backgrounds to deliver a range of insights and approaches to real-world problems. Through this diversity, defined in the broadest terms, you can begin to understand the experiences of others, to challenge your own assumptions, and to develop new ways of seeing the world.

Take time to reflect on who you are, and have confidence. There is neither an “ideal” candidate nor a “typical” Stanford MBA student. In your application, we would like you, quite simply, to be yourself.

Common Myths About Admissions
Common Myths About Admissions
Kirsten Moss, assistant dean of MBA admissions and financial aid, discusses some common myths about admissions and what's most important in the application process.