UVA’s Darden School of Business: MBA Admissions Guide

The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business is a leading business graduate program–currently ranked #13 in the country (by US News), and is also in the Magoosh top 25. That means that the GMAT score for the Darden School of Business is competitive. Admissions will not be easy. But for strong students, UVA’s Darden MBA offers a variety of choices that all focus on the same high-quality core curriculum.

UVA Darden MBA Program: GMAT Scores, Acceptance Rate, and GPA

First of all, what do you need to know about the Darden School of Business admissions? Here’s a quick rundown of fast facts to keep in mind!

Acceptance Rate35.1%
Average GMAT Score703
Average Undergraduate GPA3.5
Entering Class Size351

(Source: US News & World Report)

However, these stats are slightly misleading, particularly when it comes to GMAT scores. The 10th-90th percentiles for those admitted to the Darden School of Business ranged from 660-750. In other words, there were outliers below the low end of that range and above the high end, but they were just that: outliers!

One other consideration for potential Darden students are the school’s rankings. According to U.S. News and World Report, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business is ranked as the 13th best MBA program in the country. Impressive!

Since the program is so highly regarded, it’s no surprise that GMAT scores for University of Virginia are high. Getting into a top-ranked program isn’t easy. Keep reading to find out what you’ll need!

UVA Darden sign on school building

How to Get Into the Darden School of Business

Just like other business school admissions committees, the Darden MBA program has certain requirements for all candidates. However, these may be different from what you’re anticipating based on applications to other programs! Take a look at what you’ll specifically need for your Darden application.

Darden School of Business Testing Policies

Recently, MBA programs have become more flexible around standardized testing, and Darden is no exception. In fact, they’re a leader in letting applicants choose which test they’ll use to apply! Candidates can still submit the GMAT or GRE scores–but they can also submit the MCAT, the LSAT, or the Executive Assessment (EA).

Darden also allows candidates to apply for testing waivers, if they feel that their applications are strong enough without including test scores. Find out more about Darden’s testing policies!

Letters of Recommendation

Unlike some other business schools, Darden only requires one letter of recommendation, rather than two. With that said, if you have a great second letter, you can submit it! But you don’t need to–and remember that submitting only one really strong letter is far better than submitting a great letter and a mediocre one!

Darden School of Business Essays

The Darden MBA program requires that you answer multiple short-answer questions on the application. These include a “Leadership and Impact” and “Diversity and Inclusion” questions, where you’ll chose from one of two prompts. The other essay questions are mandatory.

Overall, the prompts include:

  1. Tell us what you would want your Learning Team to know about you that is not on your resume. (150 words)
  2. Darden strives to identify and cultivate responsible leaders who follow their purpose. Please respond to one of the following prompts (200 words)

    Select the prompt to which you will respond.

    1. Q #1: Tell us about a time when you acted with a team to solve a problem or seize an opportunity. What role did you play? What did you learn from this experience?
    2. Q #2: Tell us about a time you acted to solve a problem for the greater good. What drew you to this issue? What did you learn from this experience?
  3. Essay #3: Select the prompt to which you will respond. (200 words)
    1. Q #1: Share a time when you learned something related to diversity, equity or inclusion that was previously unknown to you? How did this experience impact your perspective?
    2. Q #2: Share a time when you advocated for a perspective, identity, or community different from your own. How did this experience impact your worldview?
  4. What is your short-term, post-MBA goal and how does it align with the long-term vision you have for your career? (150 words)
  5. Darden has an incredible network of alumni and partners around the world, and, in a typical year, the School connects with over 80 countries. If you could choose any location in the world, where would you want to travel? (5 words). And why? (50 words)

Interviews for the Darden School of Business

If you apply to Darden Early Action, you’ll be able to sign up for an interview on a first-come, first-served basis. But if you’re applying for the Rounds 1-3 application deadlines, interviews are by invitation only. They’re also issued on a rolling basis, so try not to read too much into when you get the invite!

Darden MBA Curriculum

The Darden School offers three different MBA programs: the standard MBA (full or part-time), the Executive MBA, and the Global Executive MBA.

What makes these three options unique? In some sense, what they have in common is what makes Darden’s offerings unique. The three programs all use the same exact MBA core curriculum, which is completed in the first four terms of the first year of each program.

This core curriculum is taught using case studies, simulations, and experiential exercises. It includes a variety of different core skills, in management, accounting, marketing, and analysis. That’s why your GMAT score for the University of Virginia is so important: you’ll need to arrive on campus with strong quantitative and logical thinking skills to navigate the core curriculum.

If the core curriculum of UVA’s programs are identical, what makes the three different MBA options unique?

The standard MBA at the Darden School of Business is for younger students who are earlier in their careers. They typically arrive on campus with only 4 years of work experience. The program is full-time, and students are not expected to hold a job concurrently (though a summer internship is required). Most students spend their 21 months in Charlottesville, VA, though study abroad options are available.

The executive MBA programs–that’s the Executive MBA and the Global Executive MBA–while being the same length (21 months) as the standard MBA, differ in the type of student they attract. In these executive education programs, students typically have closer to 10 years of quality work experience. They’re highly competent executives in their own right. The programs only require sporadic residency in Charlottesville, and many courses incorporate distance learning. The Global Executive option incorporates residences around the world as a requirement — in China, Europe, India, Brazil, and elsewhere. It’s the ideal program for executives with international experience and ambitions.

Part-Time MBA at the Darden School of Business

If you live near UVA or are willing to move there, the brand new, part-time MBA program at the Darden School of Business may be for you! With classes taking place mostly after work hours, you’ll have both virtual and in-person options.

Beginning in 2022, the program will accept 65 MBA students into its first class. Overall, you can expect it to last between 28 and 48 months, depending on your course load. Unlike a traditional full-time MBA program, the part-time program allows you to keep working while getting your degree.

What is Darden School of Business known for?

Besides its unique array of programs, Darden also distinguishes itself in its size. While some graduate business schools can have thousands of students, Darden has less than 350 per cohort. That allows a great opportunity to get to know classmates one-on-one, and utilize day-to-day networking to the fullest.

The program is also known for a large military contingent, with slightly less than 10% of students having served in the military. Military leadership classes are available. This not only means that there is a military community at Darden, but also that the school is familiar with issues that may arise for service members; they offer a 1-year deferment if students’ plans are delayed by their service branches. They also offer military scholarships and flexible interviews.

Academically, Darden is known for using the “case method,” in which small groups of around 6 students work together to study real-world scenarios. This creates lively discussions that students participate actively in, rather than passively watching lectures. It also builds real-world skills through discussions of challenging issues businesses and organizations face. In this model, professors facilitate learning, rather than lecturing.

UVA Darden MBA Employment Outcomes

If you’re looking for an MBA program with strong employment outcomes for alumni, the Darden School of Business is a good choice. At graduation, 83.9% of students have a job lined up; three months after graduation, this rises to 91.1%.

Base salaries for these positions were also relatively high, with an average base salary of $139,945. This takes into account a broad range of jobs, with base salaries hitting a low of $50,000 and a high of $190,000.

Similarly, signing bonuses for Darden graduates were impressive, with an average signing bonus of $33,266. Again, though, this depends significantly on the position! Some students received bonuses as low as $3,000, while others received as much as $107,500.

(Source: US News & World Report)

Takeaways for UVA’s Darden School of Business

If you’re seeking a small but highly ranked MBA program, then the UVA MBA at the Darden School of Business might be perfect for you. While the expected GMAT score for University of Virginia is high, if you can meet the standards, then you’ll enjoy close contact with your peers and faculty in a small program with a strong core curriculum. You’ll also enjoy learning in a unique way through the case method. Career opportunities after UVA are numerous, so you’ll definitely get your money’s worth if you choose to enroll at Darden!

Ready to get an awesome GMAT score? Start here.

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  • Rachel Kapelke-Dale

    Rachel is one of Magoosh’s Content Creators. She writes and updates content on our High School and GRE Blogs to ensure students are equipped with the best information during their test prep journey. As a test-prep instructor for more than five years in there different countries, Rachel has helped students around the world prepare for various standardized tests, including the SAT, ACT, TOEFL, GRE, and GMAT, and she is one of the authors of our Magoosh ACT Prep Book. Rachel has a Bachelor of Arts in Comparative Literature from Brown University, an MA in Cinematography from the Université de Paris VII, and a Ph.D. in Film Studies from University College London. For over a decade, Rachel has honed her craft as a fiction and memoir writer and public speaker. Her novel, THE BALLERINAS, is forthcoming in December 2021 from St. Martin's Press, while her memoir, GRADUATES IN WONDERLAND, co-written with Jessica Pan, was published in 2014 by Penguin Random House. Her work has appeared in over a dozen online and print publications, including Vanity Fair Hollywood. When she isn't strategically stringing words together at Magoosh, you can find Rachel riding horses or with her nose in a book. Join her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook!

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    David is a Test Prep Expert for Magoosh TOEFL and IELTS. Additionally, he's helped students with TOEIC, PET, FCE, BULATS, Eiken, SAT, ACT, GRE, and GMAT. David has a BS and MA from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MA from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Early in his career, he worked for Disney Consumer Relations, later moving on to become a business banker at Wells Fargo. Once David discovered his passion for education, he started teaching K-12 ESL in South Korea. He soon branched out into adult learning, teaching undergraduate and MBA-level communication and writing classes at American universities. During this time, David also taught business communication to employees at Hyundai, Cargill, and Nestle, and trained English teachers in America, Italy, and Peru. His work at Magoosh has been cited in many scholarly articles, his Master's Thesis is featured on the Reading with Pictures website, and he's presented at the WITESOL (link to PDF) and NAFSA conferences. Come join David and the Magoosh team on Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram, or connect with him via LinkedIn!

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