EMBA - Application Process


EMBA - Application Process

Application Process

Learn more about the Darden School's Application Process.

Final Application Deadline is 25 June!

Your MBA Starts Here

A step-by-step guide to Darden's Executive MBA program application process. Please contact us at ExecMBA@darden.virginia.edu if you need to discuss the specific content or timing of your application. 


Application Process

  • 1. Select Your Deadline

    Darden's Executive MBA program offers monthly deadlines and we will continue to accept applications until the class fills. Each deadline functions as a discrete round – with a target interview period, decision release date and deposit deadline.

    Apply as soon as you feel like you can put together a strong application. Please connect with our team for specific advice on the timing of your application.

  • 2. Review Our Application

    Once you have identified your target deadline, review our application. During this first pass, don’t worry about completing anything. Just read. What is required? What information will you need? How much time will it likely take you to complete each of the sections?

    Taking 10–15 minutes to review our application as you embark upon this process will help you better plan and strategize.

  • 3. Acquire Your Transcripts

    Unofficial transcripts are acceptable for the purposes of our application process, and we require transcripts for all degree-related coursework. An unofficial transcript is a transcript issued directly to you. It could be in the form of a PDF download or a document you scan and upload to your application. An official transcript is a transcript issued directly from the institution in question to our office.

    If you matriculate at Darden, we will require you to submit official transcripts from all degree-granting institutions prior to the start of school. But for now, unofficial copies are just fine.

    If you completed your education at a non-English-speaking institution, you will need to make arrangements to have your academic records translated and sent to our office with the official transcript. All translations must be complete and literal versions of the original records. Please be sure to review our web page for international applicants for additional insights about our English proficiency test requirements as well as additional guidance for international applicants. 

  • 4. Make Your Test Plans or Submit a Test Waiver

    In the Executive MBA application process, you have two options - submit a test waiver request or take a standardized test.

    Check out this blog post for recent updates about test waivers: Expert Tips for Darden's Executive Application Process.

    Submit a test waiver request. Our test waiver request form can be found in the “Test Scores” section of the application. All candidates who feel they have a strong case for a test waiver are welcome and encouraged to submit a waiver request. Waiver requests are considered along with the full application. Updates regarding the outcome of the waiver review will be provided at the time of decision. 

    Applicants may use the text box in the waiver request field to highlight any aspects of their educational or professional background they feel are relevant to our Admissions Committee’s evaluation. In considering waiver requests, our Committee will pay particular attention to your prior coursework (both degree-related and non-degree-related), advanced degrees, professional certifications and work responsibilities.

    Take a standardized test. We accept several standardized tests - Executive Assessment, GMAT Focus, GMAT, GRE, MCAT and LSAT. We view these tests equivalently. We will also accept older or expired scores for any of these tests, but candidates who wish to submit an expired score will need to have access to their full score breakdown. 

    If you plan to take a test, we recommend choosing the test that best aligns with your strengths and your application plans.

    Applicants planning to submit a test score with their application do not need to have taken the test by their target deadline. As long as we receive the test scores at least two days prior to the decision release date for the round in question, we can keep an applicant on schedule for an on-time decision release.

    Self-reported scores are fine for the purposes of our application process, but you should also arrange for GMAC, ETS or Pearson Vue to send your official score report to the Darden Admissions office.

    School Codes

    • GMAC
      • Executive MBA: KC7-0X-30
      • Global Executive MBA: KC7-0X-12 
    • ETS: 4629
    • TOEFL: 5820 Dept. 02
    • IELTS: 5099

    Additional resources:

  • 5. Sharpen Your Resume

    When it comes to resume length, we recommend one page for every 10 years of work experience. If you’ve reviewed our application (see Step 2), you know there is an Employment History section where you will provide basic details about your various roles and responsibilities. We encourage you to keep this in mind when crafting your resume. Remember, we will be evaluating your application holistically, so try to think about your application with this lens as you assemble your materials.

    Use your resume to highlight your leadership and impact. What have you accomplished in your roles? And whenever possible, try to quantify your results.

    A resume is an opportunity to display your personality and offer insights about your passions and interests (e.g. hobbies, favorite activities, books you’ve read recently, podcasts you’re currently listening to, countries you’ve visited). It’s all fair game. Including a few of these personal details can help us get a more complete picture of you.

    Additional resources:

  • 6. Identify Your Recommender

    We require one (1) recommendation, but we will accept two (2) recommendations as part of our Executive MBA application process.

    Who makes a good recommender? It depends, but we typically suggest someone who knows you well and has supervised you in a professional setting. 

    Identify a person who will be a strong advocate for you in the process and will help us learn more about your accomplishments and leadership potential. In addition, because you will be working during our program, we typically prefer to hear from your current supervisor. If you choose not to ask your current supervisor to be your recommender, consider including a note about your recommender choice in the Additional Comments section of your application.  

    Of course, this is general advice, and we defer to you when it comes to actual recommender choice.

    When choosing your recommender (and setting your recommender’s expectations), be sure to keep in mind what they will be asked to do. Our recommendation process is completely electronic, and your recommender will fill out two pieces of information — a ratings grid in which they will evaluate you across a set of competencies and a series of short answer questions. The short answer questions are:

    • Please provide a brief description of your interaction with the applicant and, if applicable, the applicant’s role in your organization.

    • How does the performance of the applicant compare to that of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles?

    • Describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response.

    The recommendation is typically the slowest part of the application process, so identify your recommender well in advance of your target deadline. Make sure they understand why you’re pursuing an MBA and why you’re interested in Darden. 

    We also suggest sharing a copy of your resume so they have some perspective on the full arc of your career. And last but not least: Stay in touch. We find that most recommenders are deadline-oriented, so make sure your recommender knows your application timing.

  • 7. Respond to Our Short Answer Questions

    In our Executive MBA application process, we feature multiple short answer questions to give you a broader platform to showcase your background and personality. These questions are a great opportunity for you to help the Darden Admissions Committee understand who you are and who you will be at Darden.

    Remember: We are not reading your responses with a prescribed or “right” answer in mind. These questions are our opportunity to begin to get a sense of your voice, your perspective, your experiences and your writing ability. In fact, how you choose to answer a particular question is often as insightful as what you choose to write about. The best essay responses are those that are responsive to the question but also authentic and genuine. Whenever possible, show, don’t tell.

    See what the short answer questions are on the application:

    Blog post: Short Answer Questions for the Darden Admissions Application: Professional Degree Programs

  • 8. Complete the Application

    Now that you have pulled together your supporting materials, focus on filling out your application. This includes everything from providing basic information about you (address, date of birth, contact details, etc.); detailing your educational and employment history; uploading your resume, transcripts and test scores; to adding your short answer responses and more.

    Once you’ve entered all of this information, take a moment to think about your application holistically. Are there any gaps or ambiguities in the information provided? Consider using the Additional Comments section of your application to provide additional context, if necessary. The Additional Comments section is not an additional essay, just a place to connect the dots.

    Our advice is to be brief, make your point and provide action items if appropriate. Be mindful that we are reading many applications, so anything you choose to share should be valuable to both you and potentially our Admissions Committee.

    Additional resources:

  • 9. Application Fee

    A nonrefundable application fee of $250 is required to process your application. However, we do offer fee waivers in select circumstances.

    Here’s how you qualify for a fee waiver:

    1. Connect. Participate in a phone conversation with a member of our Executive MBA Admissions Committee AND

    2. Join. Attend one of our upcoming webinars or in-person events. We have an exciting slate of webinars on deck, including career-related sessions, application tips, a program overview, student life highlights and more. We look forward to seeing you online!

    If you have started an application, once you complete these two steps a fee waiver code will be automatically applied to your application. If you have not yet started an application, a fee waiver code will be applied to your application once you do so.

    In addition, The following are eligible for application fee waivers:

    • Teach for America corps members and alumni 
    • Peace Corps volunteers 
    • Education Pioneers fellows  
    • Forté MBALaunch members 
    • Current undergraduate students
    • U.S. military members 
    • African citizens living in Africa 
    • Citizens of countries on the UN's list of least developed countries also qualify for an application fee waiver

    If you qualify for a waiver or have been accepted into the above programs, your application fee waiver will be applied automatically and you will receive an email confirmation for any fee waiver applied. If you have further questions, please email us at execmba@darden.virginia.edu.

  • 10. Interview Invitation

    Interviews are offered by invitation only. Qualified applicants will be invited to interview after their application has been reviewed by the Admissions Committee. Interviews play a critical role in our assessment of candidates and are required prior to acceptance into the program.

    All interviews are conducted by a member of the Admissions Committee. For the foreseeable future, all interviews will be conducted virtually via Zoom.

    Our interviews are conversational in nature and typically last around 35-40 minutes. Applicants should be prepared to share their narrative during the interview, and key questions include:

    • What's your educational background?
    • What's your professional background?
    • Why are you interested in pursuing an MBA?
    • Why are you interested in Darden?
    • What are your goals post-MBA?

    Other relevant topics include leadership experience, global exposure as well as hobbies and interests.

    Check out our blog post with tips about preparing for an interview:

    Blog post: Inside the Darden Interview: What to expect and how to stand out

Core Data:

The Darden MBA application begins with a request for demographic information, address, education, professional history and so on.

In order to meet regulatory, accreditation, and other reporting requirements, the Darden School asks applicants to report their race/ethnicity, as defined by U.S. Department of Education standards, as part of the application process. This individual applicant information on race/ethnicity is not available to anyone involved in the evaluation process while an applicant being considered for admission to the school.

The residency section of the application requests information related to verification of residency to establish in-state status for Virginia residents. Residency status is assigned by the Virginia Status Office at the University. Visit the Virginia Status Office at the University or call +1-434-982-3391 if you need more information.

We expect that the information provided in and for an application will be valid and will accurately represent your qualifications for admission to Darden. If articles contained within the application are ascertained to contain invalid information or misrepresent your qualifications, sanctions will be taken, up to and including the revocation of the MBA degree.


If you applied in our prior admissions cycle to the current cycle, we would be happy to copy your application over to our new application period. To request this action, please complete and submit our Reapplicant Request Form

Reapplicants will need to provide answers to any new questions, and it is always a best practice to review previously submitted information for accuracy. In addition, all reapplicants are required to submit a new recommendation with their application.

Application Review Process:

In the Executive MBA application process, interviews are offered on an invitation-only basis, and the initial application review determines interview invitations. Most applicants are notified of their interview invitation within a day or two of application submission. There is an interview period designated for each application round.

The second and "final" application review is more extensive, and it involves multiple levels of evaluation. 

There is a target release date for each round, and all Admissions decisions and most scholarship decisions (admitted applicants only) are released for the round in question on the designated date. 

All applications are under consideration, and therefore eligible for an interview invitation, up to the official decision release date for the round in question. An interview is required for an applicant to be eligible for an offer of admission.

Decision Outcomes

There are four decision outcomes for Executive MBA applicants: 

  • Admit 
  • Conditional Admit (additional action required - for example, quantitative coursework)
  • Waitlist (in which case, additional action - like a test or quantitative coursework - would be ways to strengthen the application)
  • Deny

Candidates who receive a conditional offer will need to take some action - for example, earn a B+ or better in two online courses in the area of Accounting or Finance - to receive a full offer of admission. 

All admitted students are evaluated for all available scholarships. Candidates who receive a conditional offer will be evaluated for a scholarship award once they satisfy their offer condition.

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