University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business Overview

The University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business is a traditional business school esteemed for high academic standards and rigor. Darden continues to put its resources and academic emphasis on the creation of superb general managers.

Snapshot of Darden Graduate School of Business MBA Program

Some business schools try to be more responsive to diverse student backgrounds and give students a thorough but manageable workload. Darden sticks to principles of hard work and intensity. The Darden experience is highly interactive. Curriculum is 100% case method and class participation represents 40 to 50 percent of each course's grade. Study is highly collaborative. Student and faculty relationships are also a cornerstone of the program. Darden focuses on ethics and leadership - a core principle of the University of Virginia. The Darden experience is also intense - students and faculty have deep intellectual commitment to the learning process. Darden students are given little time off (previously had exams on Saturday).

Students are expected to have a background in Accounting, Statistics and Economics before arriving on campus.

Based completely on the Case Method, students go through approximately 13 cases per week. The classroom also demands interaction and participation.


Student teams meet nightly to discuss classes and cases. Professors select students through cold calls to initiate case analysis, and then invite the entire class to participate in discussions.

Students are placed in the role of decision maker and must have the ability to articulate and defend their positions in an insightful manner. In addition, students are required to take an ethics course; and ethical challenges are often discussed in cases throughout the curriculum.



MBA Application Elements - University of Virginia Business School

In 2011-2012, the average GMAT score was 701, with 90 percent of enrolled students scoring between 650-750.

Interviews are by invitation only (not all applicants), and are conducted by students and staff.

There tends to be a focus on thought processes and cultural diversity in past Darden interviews.

The ability to contribute to case conversations will most likely be tested during the interview. The interviewer will be looking for cogent responses that show confidence and professionalism. It's important to be able to play both the student and teacher roles in the case study framework.

Each application is read three times; there are two staff readings followed by the Admissions Director.


Wait listed students are automatically rolled into the next round of admissions for consideration.


Darden pays close attention to past achievements and especially leadership skills/leadership potential. As with most business schools, applicants will want to tailor their application to the individual school and the student it's looking for. Applicants to Darden must particularly show the admissions committee that they will fit in well.

Darden emphasizes leadership in the workplace, in the community, and in the classroom.

Applicants should emphasize their background while showing both a willingness and a desire to contribute to the community. Applicants who have followed a less traditional professional path must fully explain their past choices. It is important to be aware of the following key points:

  • Make sure your essays show a progression in leadership and that recommendations highlight the potential for future leadership growth.
  • Darden places a strong emphasis on ethics, and ethical questions may be raised during the interview.
  • There are three application essays for Darden. It is important to try and explore different topics and experiences in each essay.
  • Do not simply list accomplishments - show how experiences and/or past accomplishments highlight your character and aspirations (as an introduction to yourself).
  • Be specific - vague goals and generalities do not allow the committee to evaluate fit or potential in the program.

A visit to the Darden campus and facilities is a great way to show commitment to the school (make sure to mention the visit in your application).


UVA Darden MBA Program - Key Statistics & Information

o    Full-Time Enrollment: 659
o    Average Undergraduate GPA: 3.48
o    Average GMAT Score: 701
o    Acceptance Rate: 24.6%
o    Average Starting Salary and Bonus: $127,595
o    Full-Time Graduates Employed at Graduation: 83.2%
o    Average Age of New Entrants: 27
o    Average Work Experience: Approximately 4.5 years
o    Countries Represented in the Class of 2014: 33
o    International (Born Outside of the U.S.): 34%
o    Average class size: 320
o    Admissions Website:

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