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16 things every Darden MBA student should know

Virginia Darden School of BusinessThe Darden School of Business, of the University of Virginia, was founded in 1955 and is named for Colgate Whitehead Darden, Jr. (1897-1981), former Governor of Virginia, former Democratic Congressman, and the third President of the university.

Darden was a champion of public education and recognized the importance of developing the education system. He successfully led a campaign to establish a graduate business school in southern US, keenly aware that managerial talent need to be fostered to fuel economic growth. The result was the Darden School of Business.

16 facts about Virginia Darden every MBA applicant should know



The Darden School is situated in Charlottesville, Virginia, in a rural setting among the Blue Ridge Mountains that offers an environment for contemplation and learning, collaboration and innovation. Charlottesville, “Cville” for its 43,000 residents (2010 figure), was the home of two US Presidents—Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe.

The city, which is 190 km (a two-hour road journey) from Washington, DC (550 km, six hours from New York), has a subtropical climate, with cold winters with light snowfall and warm and humid summers. The annual temperature range is -3 degrees Celsius to 31 degrees C, with about 130 precipitation days annually.

The city has an airport and Amtrak, Greyhound, and other bus services, besides highways for travel outside. The University Transit Service is used by both students and residents for intra-city commutes. Although it is a small city, Charlottesville holds many tourist attractions, including wine and beer tours, historical sites, and the Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive (a 169-km scenic road through the length of the park).

The Downtown Mall, an outdoor pedestrian mall, the Paramount Theater, the Virginia Discovery Museum, the Corner and West Main Street commercial districts, and film, art, and book exhibitions are well worth visiting. The University of Virginia, founded by Thomas Jefferson, lies on Charlottesville’s southwestern border, and is, along with Monticello, Jefferson’s primary plantation, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


The Darden buildings were designed by the famous American architect Robert AM Stern, in conformity with Jefferson’s vision for the university. The campus accommodates a full-service hotel, dining facilities for 400 people, a 450-seat auditorium, a video production unit, and the Camp Library with 100,000 volumes, 1,100 periodicals, and 120 online databases.


The Financial Times, in its 2018 Global MBA Ranking, gives Darden the 32nd spot. In the US News’ Best (US) Business Schools 2017, Darden is at no. 14. In past rankings, it was the top school for student satisfaction (Forbes 2015-16), General Management (FT 2016), career placement of top 20 US b-schools (US News 2016), and education experience (The Economist 2011-2016) for its MBA specialty.

Faculty, research

The Princeton Review 2016 awarded the No. 3 Best Professors status to Darden’s faculty, which is now headed by Scott C. Beardsley, Professor of Business Administration. Darden’s professors are master teachers and mentors to students, and follow an open-door policy to reach out to students even outside classrooms.

The professors have jointly created an integrated curriculum. More than one professor leads class discussions to help students understand concepts from multiple perspectives. Besides developing its academic areas from accounting to technology, Darden also advances research initiatives through the Batten Initiative, the Mayo Center for Asset Management, Darden Center for Global Initiatives, the Olsson Center for Applied Ethics, the Behavioral Research at Darden Lab, etc.

Darden faculty regularly publish books and articles in academic and user-oriented journals and help conduct seminars and workshops. Darden also has a business publishing division.


Darden offers the MBA degree in three formats: full-time MBA, Executive MBA, and the Global Executive MBA. A PhD program and various executive education programs are also available. The core curriculum and the faculty team that teaches the programs are the same. The case study method is used for all three formats. The two executive MBA programs are also offered in Washington, DC.


The curriculum imparts knowledge on General Management principles. All students study the same core areas in the first four terms of the first year, including financial management and policies, accounting for managers, marketing, operations management, management communication, global economies and markets, and strategic thinking.

The MBA functional concentrations, which take the study of electives further into specializations, are divided into career-track (asset management, investment banking, corporate finance, etc.) and theme-track concentrations (corporate innovation, business analytics, global business, etc.).

Recruiting events, global opportunities, experiential learning, and electives are also part of the first-year curriculum. Experiential learning includes visits to companies abroad and in the US, and participation in leadership clubs, consulting projects, and entrepreneurship competitions.

The final term is the time to choose electives from a hundred difference choices. The case study method presents students with real-life business situations through discussions with peers and faculty members. Specialty courses outside the core areas, such as healthcare, energy, media, real estate, and technology, are available.

Application requirements

Core data such as demographic information, education, and professional qualifications need to be supplied with the Darden MBA application. A college/university degree equivalent to a four-year American baccalaureate degree is required, but three-year undergraduate degrees are also accepted. GMAT/GRE score and IELTS/TOEFL/PTE score (English test score not required if the medium of instruction was English for degree course) can be given. A one-page resume (not an academic CV) should be included with employment (titles, dates, full-time or part-time) and education history in reverse chronological order.

On the essay question, applicants can show their writing ability and give persuasive arguments about how they approach business issues and express their goals, values, and experiences. Two letters of recommendation, preferably work-related rather than academic-related, and academic transcripts are required.

Applicants living in the US are expected to attend their interview on Darden Grounds, but international candidates can do so either during admissions officials’ recruiting trips or through Skype (the interview may also be conducted by alumni).

Fee, expenses

The tuition for international students is about $70,000 and the UVA health insurance is nearly $3,000. The living expense budget is $18,000, and the MBA case fee $2,000. The total first-year cost of attendance (2020-21) is about $99,000.

Scholarship, aid

Jefferson Fellowships are awarded to exceptional MBA applicants with qualities such as “ethical leadership, diplomatic decisiveness, a track record of putting ideas into action, and a superb record of academic achievement.” For international students, first-year scholarships are granted through endowments and continued into the second year as long as the student maintains a GPA of at least 3.

Under the Darden Merit Scholarships, full tuition, one-half tuition, or one-third tuition are given. Batten Scholarships (full tuition) for demonstrated entrepreneurship, technological achievement, and innovative approaches are available.

For the Stamps Family Foundation Fellowships, five students who have been selected for half-tuition scholarships are awarded full tuition. Many other scholarships are offered, the details of which have been given on the Darden international scholarships webpage.

Admission statistics

Here’s the profile of the Darden MBA Class from recent years: Students – about 350 (about 33 percent international students from close to 40 countries and 40 percent women). Average age – 27. Average GMAT score – 712. Mean GPA – 3.5. Undergraduate majors: Business – 25 percent; Engineering – 21 percent; Economics – 19 percent; Humanities/Social Sciences –19 percent. Future industries: Consulting – 30 percent; Finance – 15 percent; Entrepreneurship – 9 percent; Management – 7 percent.

Career development

Darden’s Career Development Center provides resources to help students and graduates find internships and jobs, respectively. Beyond the MBA years, the Alumni Career Services extends support to all alumni all their lives free of charge. Professional career advisors, including experts in various sectors, offer one-on-one guidance.

First-year students are each paired with a CDC second-year coach, a senior student who has recent experience of the internship process, for guidance in various aspects of the internship application.

At the end of the first year, students can apply to become a CDC second-year coach, and receive training in career counseling in order to assist junior students. This would provide them with leadership opportunities in preparation for a future career in management. Darden provides special focus on career development for international students.

Jobs after MBA, employers

Darden graduates have been hired by reputed companies in various sectors. Some of them are, according to sectors: Consulting – AT Kearney, Bain, BCG, Deloitte; Consumer products – ABi, Johnson & Johnson; Financial services – Nomura, Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance; Investment banking – Citi, Deutsche Bank; Manufacturing – 3M, DuPont, GMC; Non-profit/Education – Rockefeller Foundation; and Technology – eBay, Google, MasterCard, Microsoft.

Ninety-four percent of the Class of 2019 received job offers within three months after graduation. By job function, majority go into consulting and finance, followed by general management. By industry, majority head to consulting firms, followed by financial services, and the rest into technology.


The average base salary of the Class of 2019 students was around $135,000. By industry, in the previous years, the average base salary in consulting was $136,000 (average signing bonus $27,000), financial services $122,000 ($42,000), technology $115,000 ($29,000), and pharma/biotech/healthcare $114,000 ($27,000). By function, the average base salary in consulting was $135,000 ($27,000), finance $120,000 ($42,000), general management $110,000 ($24,000), and marketing $109,000 ($32,000).

Alumni network

The Darden alumni network consists of more than 15,000 professionals working in 90 countries. It has alumni chapters in nearly a dozen countries, including India. Darden hosts the Global Leadership Forum outside the US annually, which provides networking and business opportunities. Among the various funds established by Darden alumni is the India Fund that supports students pursuing international studies.

Notable alumni

The list of Darden alumni includes Steven S. Reinemund (former PepsiCo CEO), Mark Stanford (Republican politician), Edward Freeman (Darden professor), John Strangfeld (Prudential Financial CEO), Kate Kelly (former Democratic Idaho State Senator), Helen Dragas (Dragas Companies CEO), and Chuck Wilson (multimedia executive).


Darden is often celebrated as the best US b-school for student satisfaction. The Darden MBA experience combines an inspirational classroom, helpful faculty and staff, a close-knit community, and resourceful alumni. The verdant settings of Jefferson’s historical “Academical Village” at Charlottesville is an enduring influence on the entire Darden community.

MBA Crystal Ball requested Whitney Kestner – Assistant Dean of Admissions, University of Virginia Darden School of Business – to share some lesser known facts about Darden. Here’s her response:

  • Darden has offices in Shanghai and Washington, D.C., and a growing presence in the San Francisco Bay Area.
  • The Economist has named Darden the No. 1 education experience in the world for six consecutive years.
  • Darden’s Executive MBA students can choose to take classes in either Charlottesville or in the Washington, D.C., area at our Rosslyn, Virginia, facilities.
  • Darden is global. 36% of the Class of 2019 in the Full-Time MBA program were born outside of the United States.
  • In the last academic year, Darden offered courses in 24 countries, in 46 locations on six continents.
  • Consulting and finance remain the top draws for Darden graduates, but 21% of the Class of 2017 pursued jobs in technology.

Whitney also shared with us some interesting initiatives at Darden.

  • We are very excited about our new facilities in Rosslyn, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. We envision a dynamic and growing presence in this global gateway. Read more.
  • We are thrilled with the early reception for our MBA/Master of Data Science (MBA/MSDS) dual degree with UVA’s Data Science Institute. We believe these future leaders will be unmatched in their preparation and ability, and expect to grow the number of students in the program in future classes.
  • We are excited about our Future Year Scholars program, a deferred admission program offering exceptional college students a place in a future Darden class. Read more here.
  • The new Business Innovation and Climate Change Initiative is exploring how business innovation can be a source for pragmatic solutions to one of the world’s most urgent issues. Read more here.

Also read:
Darden MBA – Interview with Associate Director of Admissions Wendy Huber
Academic environments can improve leadership capabilities says Darden Professor
Resources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

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6 thoughts on “16 things every Darden MBA student should know”

  1. Hi Sameer ,

    I have a work experience of 9 years in retail and FMCG in supply chain and operations , done my PGP from Indira institute of management. I am currently working for FMCG MNC currently but wants to grow more in a company with better pay package. I wanted to go for Executive MBA and willing to settle abroad also if good opportunity comes. I have heard and read about Executive MBA from IIM’s and ISB and also from USA and UK universities. Please suggest which of the course i should go for in terms of Executive MBA for better career growth and better pay packages.



  2. hi ,
    I am engineeering graduate from mumbai university with 3 years of experience from an indian MNC.
    I am confused wheather to go for MBA(from usa) or MIS.
    I want to take a course which will take me on the managerial side and enhance my managerial skills.
    However i heard that after your MBA in usa you dont get jobs there as u get a work permit of only 1 i was in a delima about choosing the program.
    Also the MIS courses are more towards the data side. and I am a front end developer, so my work ex would not help me newhere.

    Please help me out over this.

  3. Hi Sameer ,

    I am a mechanical engineer & have 7 years of work experience , working with one of the biggest Oil & Gas MNCs in India ( Current CTC 10 LPA) , My expertise entail mostly technical works and engineering . I want to switch to managerial role soon .

    I am planing to do 1 year Executive MBA from A/B/C . Please suggest ..if my previous role will help in finding better roles after MBA. What CTC i can expect in campus at IIM ….Average figure of similar experience as mine will help to decide… if you could provide .


  4. HI There

    I have 11 yrs of exp, MS in comp Sci from CUNY with 3.7 GPA and looking for an MBA, I am targeting 700 in GMAT . I am currently running 2 companies and one charity school with my brother and MOM and looking to do an MBA but not sure if I will be able to get an admission and if I do then what to expect weather it will be helpful to shape my future.


  5. Hi Sameer sir, Now I am working in IT industry as software Engineer I want to do MBA. So suggest me its good discussion to leave our job and doing MBA. because I feel like I am good in management if it is good then suggests me in which domain I will do MBA. Can i do full time or distance?
    Thanks in Advance.

  6. @Shashank: Those are regular GMAT MBA programs, not Executive MBA. Read this:

    Choose the programs based on the country you’d like to work in.

    @Karishma: For a managerial career, an MBA works best. Getting is job is definitely a challenge since you’d need a work permit irrespective of the degree you choose.

    @Sam It’s not an EMBA. Read the article pasted above. The average salaries in the programs you’ve listed are substantially higher than what you are getting. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll get those salaries as well. Recruiters will take into consideration the experience and skills you already have.

    @Sanju: Seems like you are just getting started with your research. Try this to set the ball rolling:

    @Ranjeet: Given your current state of confusion, it won’t be a good idea to leave your current well-paying job. Learn more about how the MBA process works and the risks involved. Check this book out:


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