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Columbia Business School MBA Interview with Admissions Team

Columbia Business School MBAColumbia Business School offers the opportunity to get an Ivy League MBA degree in Manhattan, New York. If you thought the location makes it suited only for finance jobs, you’d be surprised at the variety of career options it opens up. Read Best Business Schools in New York

In the current class, 37% of the incoming students were international and 36% are women. Though the 80 percentile GMAT score range for the Columbia MBA extends from 680 to 760, the average GMAT score (716) is among the highest. A few exceptional candidates (1%) get in with less than a year of work experience, but the average in the class is 5 years (the 80 percentile being 3-7 years).

Manish Gupta, from the MBA Crystal Ball team spoke to the Columbia Business School Admissions team to get deeper insights about the MBA admissions, GMAT, scholarships, jobs, and much more.


Columbia University MBA (CBS) Q&A

Christina Shelby – Director, Columbia MBA Admissions
Anne Maertens – Assistant Director, Columbia MBA Admissions


Columbia MBA Careers

MBA Crystal Ball: Consulting and Finance seem to form a major portion of the areas where your grads go post MBA. Can you also demystify and share with us what type (management/strategy, HR, IT, real estate) of consulting roles are offered?

Columbia MBA Admissions Team: Columbia Business School students have a wide array of professional interests. In addition to the popular industries of consulting and financial services, students from recent graduating classes have found opportunities working in diverse fields such as medical devices/health care, real estate, hotel management, advertising, film production, retail and luxury goods, video gaming, sports, nonprofits, and arts management, among other areas.

With regard specifically to consulting, our students tend to favor management/strategy roles, but they also find positions in consulting firms focusing on Biotechnology, Brand/Marketing, Education, Energy, Healthcare, Nonprofits, Operations, and Technology.

Others will work in these types of practice areas within larger strategy consulting firms, within financial services firms, or in internal strategy roles at corporations themselves.
MBA Crystal Ball: The Columbia MBA isn’t generally talked about as a bschool with a strong technology focus. Should folks in that sector look at the school for career advancement? What opportunities/avenues does the school provide for candidates from the technology sector?

Columbia MBA: Almost 9 percent of the class of 2013 accepted jobs in Internet Services/E-commerce or Software/Telecom firms including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Spotify, VMWare, Yahoo!, ZocDoc, and Zynga.

The School supports annual treks to Silicon Valley/the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle, attends tech crunches and other conferences locally, and partners with the Eugene Lang Center for Entrepreneurship at Columbia Business School to help identify tech start-ups and market Columbia MBAs.

The Career Management Center has visited India and has relationships with Infosys, Tata, and Wipro, among others. Interestingly, when one looks at where our 41,000+ alumni work, 7% are in technology.

For context, only 8% of our alumni are in consulting. Columbia’s unparalleled connections, network, and reputation are instrumental in career progression within and between industries.
MBA Crystal Ball: What has been the impact of the economic slowdown on the placements process? Are there any special concerns or expectations that international candidates should be aware of?

Columbia MBA: The market for entry-level MBAs has improved in recent years. Three months after graduation, 97% of the Class of 2013 had received a job offer, slightly better than in 2012 when the figure was 96%, but not quite as impressive as 2011 when it was 98%. Our Career Management Center is dedicated to teaching lifelong Career Management skills, preparing students not only for their first job search, but for a lifetime of success.

The CMC offers one-on-one sessions with advisors and coaches to formulate individual job-search strategies, as well as workshops and clinics that provide tactical advice.

In addition, beginning at Orientation, the CMC offers a range of workshops that focus on helping international students navigate a job search in the United States, and provides resources for home-country job searches as well. As at all top business schools in the U.S., international students must contend with the visa process.

The CMC along with the University’s International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) works with international students, and advises organizations on the ease of sponsoring work visas after graduation.
MBA Crystal Ball: How important in your experience are GMAT scores for consulting placements, do the top brands use it as a filter?

Columbia MBA: With regard to GMAT scores, the major consulting firms all look for academic excellence and intellectual curiosity.

GMAT scores are just one data point they use when considering the backgrounds and skill sets of candidates.

Columbia MBA Admissions / Selection Process

Columbia MBA AdmissionsMBA Crystal Ball: One of your application questions asks candidates to narrate how they will leverage the school’s location in New York City. What is the kind of research you expect candidates to put in for this? Wouldn’t this put folks without experience in US at a slight disadvantage?

Columbia MBA: Columbia Business School is located physically and intellectually at the very center of business. We want to know how candidates anticipate that pursuing their MBA at the only top Ivy League business school in the global business hub that is New York City will impact their experience. While visiting campus is a great way to learn more about what attending Columbia Business School in New York City will be like, we provide a plethora of online resources for those who are not able to visit campus.

We have approximately 40% international students every year and candidates without experience in the US are not at a disadvantage. For this essay, applicants may choose to focus on the professional or personal advantages of New York City, or a combination of both.

We encourage all applicants, international and domestic, to take advantage of the online resources to learn more about the benefits of attending Columbia Business School in the heart of Manhattan.
MBA Crystal Ball: Give us a few ‘put-offs’, ‘no-nos’ for the application essays. Maybe share a few stories that are just not-acceptable. It will be great if you can share some DOs and DONTs – especially for Indian applicants.

Columbia MBA: It may sound like an easy answer but applicants should make sure to answer the essay question! We read thousands of application essays so it is very clear when a candidate is recycling his or her essay from a different application or when he or she forgets to address what we’ve asked.

One of our current Indian students shared a great piece of advice that he received from a mentor during the application process: In your essay, you should not be able to replace your name with someone else’s name and have the essay still work.

Your essays should be unique to you! The admissions committee wants to get to know you, so make sure that you are being genuine and answering the questions. Each of you is unique, beyond even similar grades, scores, and work experience.

Columbia MBA Scholarships / Fellowships

MBA Crystal Ball: Are there separate scholarship/fellowship essays as part of the selection process? Are they assessed in conjunction with other parts of the application or are these evaluated on a standalone basis?

Columbia MBA: In order to apply for merit-based fellowships, applicants do not need to submit any additional materials or essays. The admissions committee awards merit-based fellowships on the strength of a candidate’s application; no additional forms are required. Merit fellowships can be awarded at the time of admission or at any point thereafter.

Fellowships are awarded only to students who begin the MBA program in August. All full-time August-entry students who apply by the merit fellowship consideration deadline and select the fellowship consideration option in their application are considered. Applicants may not apply for individual fellowships.

For example, Indian applicants who apply before the merit-based fellowship deadline for August-entry will be considered for admission and also for merit-based fellowship consideration, including the Board of Overseers India Fellowship, which is a renewable full-tuition fellowship awarded to an incoming Indian international student who exhibits exceptional academic and professional promise.

Applicants can apply for need-based scholarships after they are offered admission and these are awarded based on financial need.

Columbia MBA | Other Topics

MBA Crystal Ball: There is a certain aura around the Columbia’s MBA program. While that’s a great thing, but this does deter many of the candidates’ from even considering the school in their list of schools. Could you share some light on the selectivity rates at the school? Is there a preference for people with certain profiles/work-ex?

Columbia MBA: Students come to Columbia from all parts of the world and bring with them every kind of business experience, from hedge funds to marketing to nonprofits and more. At Columbia Business School, we believe that our diverse community is one of our greatest strengths.

That’s why we’re committed to promoting diversity in all its forms by making sure that those from different racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and professional backgrounds are represented in our community. In the admissions process we are looking to build a diverse class so there is no preference for certain types of work experience over others.

As a world-class MBA program we are highly-selective but the application process is holistic and there are no cut-offs or minimums. A look at the profile for the entering Class of 2013 can give applicants an understanding of the average and range of some elements of the application (see below) but our community consists of so much more than numbers.

If you have queries about the program, get in touch with the Columbia Business School admissions team on this email ID:

Read the interviews with the Admission Committee officers of many other top bschools.

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How I got into Columbia from India despite little experience and an average GMAT
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Manish Gupta
About Manish Gupta
Chief Consulting Officer at MBA Crystal Ball, ex-McKinsey, IIT & ISB topper. MG can help you get into the top B-schools. Read more about this top MBA admissions consultant. Connect with MG on Linkedin, Facebook or Email: mcb [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com

2 thoughts on “Columbia Business School MBA Interview with Admissions Team”

  1. Alas , run off the mill standard responses. there goes 10 mins of my life.
    “That’s why we’re committed to promoting diversity in all its forms by making sure that those from different racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and professional backgrounds are represented in our community. In the admissions process we are looking to build a diverse class so there is no preference for certain types of work experience over others.”


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