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Georgetown MBA (McDonough): Admissions Director Interview

Written by Sameer Kamat

Georgetown MBA McDonough

The Georgetown MBA in Washington D.C. is a top ranking program with a diverse class profile. With an average GMAT score of 683, the student age range falls between 22 and 45. Over 30% of the students come from outside the U.S. For the current class the business school admissions team received over 1500 applications and enrolled only 250, making it one of the toughest and most selective programs in the world.

Sameer Kamat, founder of MBA Crystal Ball, caught up with Interim Assistant Dean and Director, Katelyn Rosa Stephenson to find out more about the program.

Katelyn has been associated with Georgetown since March 2008. Before that she was responsible for undergraduate admissions at The George Washington University.


Georgetown MBA (McDonough) Q&A | Katelyn Rosa Stephenson

The Unique Georgetown MBA Curriculum

MBA Crystal Ball: The curriculum introduced in 2012 is designed on the principle of Service to Business and Society. Can you elaborate (with an industry/role example) on what it means in practice?

Katelyn Rosa Stephenson: Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business surpasses expectations that applicants might have from an MBA program. Our MBA curriculum, based on the Jesuit principles of “men and women in service to others,” focuses on creating principled leaders with a global mindset to be in service to business & society.

The new curriculum that was implemented this year deepens our commitment to the Jesuit tradition, utilizes a more integrative teaching approach, and places greater emphasis on developing analytical and quantitative abilities, resulting in a more rigorous academic experience.

Other highlights of the Georgetown MBA include courses like the newly introduced course Principled Leadership for Business and Society and initiatives such as the Global Social Enterprise Initiative that help our students blend theory with practice. The curriculum effectively weaves the various concepts while providing various opportunities to experience the philosophy. Other examples include the Global Social Enterprise Initiative and many student organizations such as the Net Impact chapter, Clean Tech and the MBA Volunteers.


MBA Crystal Ball: How does the Global Residency program work? Any examples of companies and projects that previous students have worked with?

Katelyn: • All graduate students at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business are required to participate in the Global Experience, where teams of students work on a consulting project for an international company throughout the academic year and then travel abroad to present their findings to the organization’s leadership.

The new MBA curriculum enhances this learning experience by connecting teams of students who consulted within the same industry in different locations around the world to write a paper and deliver a presentation that compares and contrasts their experiences – providing a truly global understanding of how business operates across cultures.

Recent consulting projects have included helping a South American company that produces greenhouses expand throughout North America; advising a Spanish investment company to promote social entrepreneurship; developing a marketing campaign for a Colombian nonprofit cooperative of coffee farmers in order to bring its products to China; and creating a strategic plan to help a Vietnamese community development program stay true to its mission while expanding its scope.

Georgetown MBA Scholarships & Graduate Assistantships

MBA Crystal Ball: What is the criteria for awarding merit-based scholarships?

Katelyn: • Our merit-based scholarship evaluation process is holistic and takes into account both quantitative and qualitative indicators. As such, a student’s academic credentials, professional background and potential for leadership are considered as part of the scholarship award process.


MBA Crystal Ball: Are graduate assistantship opportunities available in the first year? How does the process work? Are graduate assistants eligible for a lower MBA tuition fee?

Katelyn: Georgetown McDonough has graduate assistantships available to students enrolled in the Full-time MBA Program. These positions are posted generally two weeks prior to the beginning of each semester, and students apply directly to the faculty, staff, or department listing the position.

Assistantships are not associated with any tuition reduction, but are supported with a stipend. In a typical semester, Georgetown McDonough employs approximately100 graduate assistants. The majority of students seeking a graduate assistantship position are able to secure one.

Georgetown MBA Essays

MBA Crystal Ball: Typically, how many times is an application reviewed before arriving at a decision?

Katelyn: We do our best to keep applicants engaged throughout the admissions process and to be as transparent as possible about what is happening with their application. Our review process ensures that several readers’ perspectives are provided on each candidate’s application before a final admissions decision is reached. The admissions committee meets on a weekly basis to discuss candidates’ applications, and all final decisions are reviewed again at the end of each round, prior to the admissions notification deadline.


MBA Crystal Ball: Are Indian and international applicants from competitive pools (like Information technology) at a disadvantage? What can they do to stand out?

Katelyn: The best thing any candidate can do when preparing their application is to be clear about what they hope to accomplish with an MBA from Georgetown McDonough. Candidates from a non-business background should clearly demonstrate how an MBA from Georgetown McDonough will help to launch their post-MBA career.

This means a candidate must take a realistic look at their skill set, identify areas that they will need to improve, and determine a plan to position themselves for career success.

A successful candidate will show the admissions committee that they know what it takes to be successful in their post-MBA field, regardless of their education and career background prior to applying to Georgetown.


MBA Crystal Ball: How can applicants who aren’t sure about their specific post-MBA career goals tackle the career goals essay?

Katelyn: A candidate in this position will need to take a step back to revisit why they are applying to business school. If an applicant knows the industry they are interested in, but not the specific position, they should learn more about that industry. One way to do this would be to seek an “informational interview” with someone working in that field.


MBA Crystal Ball: With the strong focus on business and society, how would you look at applicants who don’t have an social work or NGO experience at the time of applying?

Katelyn: The admissions committee does not expect to see every candidate with strong social impact or NGO experience, but rather that candidates understand that as a business leader, the decisions they make will have an impact that extends beyond the bottom line.

The admissions committee also understands that different cultures have different ways of providing support to society. While a candidate might not formally volunteer with an NGO, they may provide support to an orphanage, sponsor a family member in school, or provide needed care to elder family members.

Georgetown MBA Interviews

MBA Crystal Ball: How can applicants prepare for interviews?

Katelyn: Treat the interview like a job interview. This includes wearing a suit and bringing an up-to-date copy of your résumé. Candidates should practice interviewing with someone they trust to give candid feedback and take their feedback into consideration.

Finally, a successful candidate will show their interviewer that they have prepared for the interview and will come with thoughtful questions about the program.


MBA Crystal Ball: What are the common mistakes that applicants need to be aware of?

Katelyn: The interview is a great time for candidates to stand out as an applicant. Don’t be afraid to show a little bit of your personality in the interview. When candidates are stressed out or too formal, they don’t perform well in the interview and that is a real missed opportunity.

Georgetown MBA Career Center & Placements

MBA Crystal Ball: How does the Washington D.C. connection help students – for internships and jobs?

Katelyn: Washington, D.C. offers an excellent combination of power, influence and opportunity. Our location, coupled with the school’s reputation, empower Georgetown MBA students to interact with policy-makers, government agencies, non-governmental entities, influential decision makers and global business leaders.

The MBA Career Center, faculty and alumni help our MBA students to connect with many Washington-based institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the Securities and Exchange Commission, The White House, The World Bank and more.


MBA Crystal Ball: Are there specific industries or roles that may not be the right option for international students?

Katelyn: International candidates have much to consider when structuring a job search plan including work authorization, cultural affiliations, and language proficiencies. Georgetown McDonough’s MBA Career Center helps each candidate to develop the right search strategy on a one-on-one basis.

The MBA Career Center coaches, peer advisors, and student organizations work together to educate Georgetown McDonough MBA students about their value to potential industry employers, then to connect them with recruiters who seek their talent. Our industry experts prepare students for industry-specific job search protocols and practices. Each member of the MBA Career Center staff holds the Certified Career Management Coach (CCMC) credential, meeting the highest coaching industry standards. Through dedicated one-on-one coaching, students develop individual career plans and learn to execute that plan with confidence.


MBA Crystal Ball: How many students manage a complete or partial career change? How many go back to their previous companies?

Katelyn: Unless sponsored by their current employer, many of our students complete their MBA in order to change careers. Some will change both industry and functions, while others will remain in the same industry, but will learn to position themselves for strategic and executive roles.

The MBA Career Center strategy takes students from the early assessment of strengths to negotiating best and final offers. Along the way students learn to evaluate career options, produce a networking plan, complete job applications, and successfully interview. The MBA Career Center also offers three MBA-specific courses designed to support career searches, navigate the promotion process, and develop an executive presence.

Application tips

MBA Crystal Ball: Is there anything (that’s not included on the website) about the Georgetown MBA that applicants should know?

Katelyn: I would like to be sure that our international candidates who cannot always make it to Washington, D.C. to visit the campus know about our virtual events and opportunities. Throughout the fall and spring semesters, our student recruiters host virtual visits. Prospective candidates also have the opportunity to schedule a limited number of 30 minute Skype sessions with current students through our MBA Insider program.


MBA Crystal Ball: Thanks for your time, Katelyn. I’m sure our readers would find it useful.

Katelyn: We appreciate you reaching out to us and hope to hear from a number of prospective candidates in India!


We are planning to start a dedicated discussion thread for the Georgetown MBA soon on our Business School forum. So watch this space.


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Sameer Kamat

About Sameer Kamat

Founder of MBA Crystal Ball | Author of 'Beyond The MBA Hype' | Cambridge MBA Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter @mba_cb

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