The 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.
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 2017 Global MBA Ranking, gives Darden the 35th spot, down from 27th in 2016. 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.
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.
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).
The tuition for international students is about $66,000 and the UVA health insurance $2,690. The living expense budget is $17,000, and the MBA case fee $2,000. The total first-year cost of attendance (2017-18) is about $93,000.
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.
Here’s the profile of the Darden MBA Class of 2018: Students – 345 (33 percent international students from 38 countries and 39 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.
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.
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-three percent of the Class of 2016 received job offers within three months after graduation. By job function, 39 percent students took up consulting, 30 percent finance, and 20 percent general management. By industry, 38 percent went into consulting, 27 percent into financial services, and 17 percent into technology.
The average base salary of the Class of 2016 students was around $123,000. By industry, 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).
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.
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.
– Darden MBA – Interview with Associate Director of Admissions Wendy Huber
– Academic environments can improve leadership capabilities says Darden Professor
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