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How to get into Wharton for MBA, Executive MBA, Undergrad, PhD programs

How to get into Wharton

For MBA MBA, Executive MBA, Undergrad (BS), Dual-degree, PhD programs

Wharton, or the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, was established in 1881 and is regarded as the world’s oldest collegiate school of business. Founded through a donation from the industrialist Joseph Wharton, the b-school is considered to have produced the highest number of billionaires in the US. Wharton’s alumni include names like Donald Trump, Elon Musk, John Sculley, and Sundar Pichai, but its MBA acceptance rate of 19.2 percent, higher than that of some of the school’s top rivals, should give aspirants hope.


Wharton statistics and facts

  • Motto: Knowledge for action
  • Endowment: $1.28 billion
  • Academic staff: 460
  • UG students: 2,559
  • PG students: 1,775 MBA; 214 doctoral
  • Other students: 445 EMBA
  • Source: Wikipedia


Wharton MBA

The Wharton MBA unveils a broad vista of global options and collaborative opportunities. Students are equipped to take on a multitude of career options and find access to an ever-expanding network of internationally positioned alumni.

MBA application

You should complete the application online. Apart from contact information, date of birth, and family information, you need to include the academic degrees and professional experience earned. Any prior conviction information should be mentioned. The application fee is $265.

First-time applicants and re-applicants should complete two essays: What do you hope to gain professional from Wharton MBA (500 words)? Describe an impactful experience or accomplishment that is not reflected elsewhere in your application. How will you use what you learned through that experience to contribute to the Wharton community?

Re-applicants should also complete the essay—explain how you have reflected on the previous decision about your application, and discuss any updates to your candidacy (e.g. changes in your professional life, additional coursework, extracurricular/volunteer engagements, 250 words)? First-time candidates could also use this topic to explain any extenuating circumstances.

All transcripts at the baccalaureate/UG level and beyond can be self-reported and official transcripts submitted upon admission.

The new Letter of Recommendation contains two sections. In one, recommenders will be asked to choose three of ten characteristics that best describe the candidate. In the other, the recommenders will be requested to illustrate why they believe the candidate will achieve success at Wharton and in a career. Recommenders need to be current or former supervisors knowledgeable about the candidate’s work performance.

GMAT or GRE scores can be self-reported. TOEFL or PTE is required for non-native speakers of English with limited exposure to the language. The test may be waived for international applications who have completed their degree course with English as the medium of instruction.

A one-page resume with functional job skills, experience, leadership, and management skills is required. Say what you have learned, not how long you have spent on a job.

Read these Wharton MBA blogs:
Life at Wharton MBA as an international student
16 things every Wharton MBA student should know
How I got into Wharton in Round 2 with low GMAT score
How I got into Wharton with scholarship
– More Wharton blogs

MBA Program for Executives (EMBA)

This program mirrors the full Wharton MBA (the same degree, curriculum, and faculty) but can be done part-time in Philadelphia and San Francisco.

The application process starts with the completion of the online application and scheduling of an early interview with the Admissions Committee. Only a resume is required for the interview. You can request a phone-chat to discuss your application and interview.

Two online recommendations from direct managers or former employers or clients should be given. Three essays have to be completed, with a fourth one optional. Results of standardized tests such as GMAT or GRE (Executive Assessment if you have over ten years’ experience) and prior academic transcripts are required. A sponsorship letter from your organization confirming time to attend the course is needed. The application fee is $180.

The Lauder program (MBA/MA)

The Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies offers a joint degree program in international management, the MBA/MA Lauder Program. It integrates the Wharton MBA with an MA in International Studies from Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences, focusing on cross-cultural advantages with advanced language training.

Application requirements include the Lauder supplement to the Wharton application; the Lauder essay (about 800 words), the Oral Proficiency Interview; and the Lauder interview (international interests, experience, personal qualities, general fit, and ability to take up two programs).
Read Wharton MBA Dual Degree with Lauder Institute: Interview with Admissions Marketing Director

Francis J. & WM. Polk Carey JD/MBA Program (JD/MBA)

The three-year fully integrated program combines the Wharton MBA and Penn’s law school program.

Applications are required to be submitted through the Wharton system that includes the full-time MBA application and a Penn Law supplement. You must hold a bachelor’s degree and take GRE or GMAT, though the Law School Admission Test is not required. Transcripts and other documents have to be sent through the LSAC Credential Assembly Service. A minimum of four recommendation letters need to be sent (up to four are accepted). Interviews are given by invitation.

Other MBA dual degrees

Wharton Engineering (MBA/SEAS): Business leadership skills integrate with tech concepts in the Wharton-Penn Engineering dual-degree programs (Master of Computer Information Technology, Master of Integrated Product Design, and Master of Science and Engineering in Systems Engineering). The programs can be completed in four to six semesters, depending on admissions timing and program structure. Application requirements include biographical information, resume, personal statement, two recommendations, transcripts, $80 application fee, GRE, and TOEFL/IELTS.

Wharton School of Advanced International Studies program (MBA/MA): The three-year dual-degree program integrates studies in international politics and economics and is delivered along with the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of The Johns Hopkins University, Washington, D.C. Students earn a Wharton MBA and an MA in international studies.

Wharton/Kennedy School of Government program (MBA/MPA, MBA/MPA/ID, MBA/MPP): Wharton students can select one of three dual-degree programs with the Harvard Kennedy School of Government—Master in Public Administration, Master in Public Administration/International Development, or Master in Public Policy.

Wharton also runs the Health Care Management Program that earns you a Wharton MBA and a Health Care Management major. For all interdisciplinary programs, you must apply to both Wharton and second school/program. A completed application form, standardized test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation should also be sent to the partner school. Admission decisions are made independently by each school.

Besides, from among 12 graduate and professional schools, students can choose various dual-degree options such as Biotechnology, Design, Engineering, Law, Medical Sciences, Nursing, Social Work, and JD/MBA with Penn Law.

Wharton Undergraduate courses

The undergraduate courses are the Wharton UG Program (BS in Economics, Wharton School), the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business (BS/BA), the Jerome Fisher Program in Management and Technology (BS/BSE or BS/BAS), the Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management (BA/BS), Nursing & Health Care Management (BS/BS), and additional dual degrees. International students comprise about 22 percent of Wharton’s UG programs.

Wharton UG Program: Wharton’s undergraduate degree program combines business and liberal arts. You can choose specialized areas of study with more than 20 concentrations across 10 departments.

Huntsman program: The four-year Huntsman program brings together business education, advanced language training, and a liberal arts education. You earn two degrees—a BS in Economics from Wharton and a BA in International Studies from the School of Arts and Sciences.

Jerome Fisher program: The program equips you with the technical and managerial knowledge needed in today’s world. You earn both a BS from Wharton and either a BS or a BAS in Engineering from the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Roy and Diana Vagelos program: The program combines detailed coursework in bioscience and business and prepares candidates for the life sciences sector. Graduates earn a BA in Life Sciences from the College of Arts and Sciences and a BS in Economics from Wharton.

Nursing and Health Care Management: The dual-degree program deals with health care management in the US and combines a BS in Nursing from the School of Nursing with a BS in Economics from Wharton.

Additional UG dual degrees: Wharton students can go in for an additional degree by designing their own dual-degree program choosing one of 50 areas of study at Penn’s three UG schools: The College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Nursing, and the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

UG admissions

Penn’s central Office of Undergraduate Admissions takes all admission decisions. Admissions officers evaluate candidates’ high school academic performance, standardized testing, recommendations, non-scholastic admissions, leadership, and personal maturity.

Wharton looks for leadership qualities, but doesn’t have any cut-offs for standardized testing scores. Successful candidates are those who distinguish themselves from others through their high degree of motivation, interest and involvement in their environment, and interest in business to improve the world’s economic and social health.

Wharton/Penn also looks for preparation in mathematics, particularly calculus.

Freshman application

The application fee is $75 or fee waiver for those eligible. Along with the Common Application or Coalition Application and Penn-specific essay, official high school transcript, school report, counselor recommendation, academic evaluations from two teachers, mid-year report, and final year report are necessary. SAT/ACT is required, but SAT Subject Tests are optional.

Ninety percent of candidates are offered an interview with Penn alumni, in person or virtually. The objective is to learn more about the candidate and share alumni experiences. Not having been invited has no bearing on the candidature.

Doctoral (PhD) programs at Wharton

Doctoral program fields include accounting, applied economics, ethics & legal studies, finance, health care management & economics, management, marketing, statistics, and operations, information management, & decision processes.

Applicants for the highly selective doctoral programs must be interested in conducting advanced research to take forward business knowledge. The admissions committee will consider your academic record, your GRE/GMAT score, and assessments by supervisors and instructors.

The doctoral application should include three letters of recommendation, transcripts and academic history, a personal statement essay question (and an optional essay), standardized test scores including TOEFL, and an application fee of $80. Any prior conviction information need to be reported.

Pre-college programs

Wharton conducts pre-college programs including the three-week Leadership, Education, and Development (LEAD) program and the four-week Leadership in the Business World (LBW) program, besides the summer programs Management & Technology Summer Institute program, Wharton Moneyball Academy program, and Wharton Sports Business Academy (WSBA) program.

LEAD program admissions are coordinated through the LEAD Program in Business, Inc. For LBW, Wharton selects candidates based on academic excellence and leadership skills. The management & technology program selects applicants interested in bringing together management and tech concepts. For the Moneyball Academy and WSBA programs, academic transcripts, extracurricular activities, essays, two recommendations, and English competency test scores are required with the application.

Global programs

The Wharton-INSEAD Alliance imparts quality business education at four campuses: Philadelphia, San Francisco (Wharton campuses), Fontainebleau (France), and Singapore (INSEAD campuses). At the UG level, Wharton offers over 20 international exchange programs and Penn more than 100. These are apart from the international studies, Lauder, and Huntsman programs.

Executive Education

Wharton Executive Education conducts both open-enrollment and custom programs. Programs for individuals, custom programs for organizations, and online learning programs are offered. Nearly 9,000 executives from around the world participate annually in these programs.
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