PHD application

The Darden Ph.D. Program

Darden Ph.D. Application Process


Learn about the Darden Ph.D. program application process and requirements.

Applications for Darden's Quantitative Analysis Ph.D. program to matriculate in August 2024 are now open. The application process is currently closed for admission into our Strategy, Ethics & Entrepreneurship concentration until the Fall of 2024.

Application Process

  • 1. Application Deadline/Timeline and Prerequisites

    Applications for Darden's Quantitative Analysis Ph.D. program to matriculate in August 2024 are now open.  Deadline for submission is January 11, 2024. Applicants must have an MBA or equivalent to apply.

    Admissions timeline:

    Application Deadline:  11 January 2024

    Interviews:  By invitation*

    Decision Release:  22 March 2024

    *Interview invitations can be sent up to the day of the decision release.

  • 2. Review our Application

    We encourage you to review our application. During this first pass, don’t worry about completing anything--just gather information and think about a timeline that will help you plan and strategize working through the application. 

    Our Admissions process is holistic in nature. Consider how each constituent element of your application contributes to this overall narrative. Approach the application process as a storytelling exercise--this is an initial introduction to you, and we look forward to learning more about you. Prioritize examples that demonstrate the authentic person behind the application. 

  • 3. Acquire your Transcript

    Unofficial transcripts are fine 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. You will be asked to upload a transcript for each institution you enter in the Education History section of your application.

    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.

    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.

  • 4. Take a Standardized Test

    We accept two standardized tests, the GMAT and GRE, and we view these tests equivalently. We recommend choosing the test that best aligns with your strengths and your application plans.

    Self-reported scores are fine for the purposes of our application process. We do not require official test scores in order to process your application and get it to the committee for review. If offered admission, you will need to send official test scores from GMAC, ETS, or Pearson Vue to the Darden Admissions office. If you choose to send official documents in lieu of self-reporting on the online application, they must arrive in our office by the application deadline.


  • 5. English Language Proficiency

    As much as 50 percent of a student's grade at Darden depends upon active oral participation. The University of Virginia requires demonstrated English proficiency. The recommended way to demonstrate English proficiency is to submit a TOEFL, IELTS or PTE score.

    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. 

  • 6. Upload Your Resume

    As a rough guide, we recommend one resume page for every 10 years of work experience. If you’ve reviewed our application, you know there is an Employment History section, and, in this section, you will provide basic details about your various roles and responsibilities.

    Submit a CV/Resume that lists your educational background and any relevant work you have done to prepare you for a doctoral program. Any awards, publications, teaching experience, or other similar items relevant to your candidacy as a doctoral student should be included.

  • 7. Identify Your Recommenders

    The recommendation is an opportunity for us to hear from someone other than you regarding your candidacy. The recommendation is the one part of your application you will not fill out yourself. Recommendations are typically the slowest part of the application process, so identify your recommenders well in advance of the deadline.

    Identifying Your Recommenders:

    We require two letters of recommendation and candidates may include a third letter if they wish to do so. We strongly recommend you choose faculty members to write letters on your behalf and that they be able to speak to your demonstrated academic abilities as well as your potential to become an academic researcher who can contribute to the literature of their chosen field at the highest level. We also encourage letter writers to speak to other qualities you possess that give them confidence that you can successfully complete a doctoral program and learn to become an original thinker in your chosen field.

    Our recommendation process is completely electronic, and your recommenders will fill out two pieces of information — a ratings grid in which they will evaluate you across a set of competencies and a short answer question. The short answer question is:

    ·       Please write a letter of no more than 700 words that speaks directly to the demonstrated academic abilities of this student as well as their potential to become an academic researcher who can contribute to the literature of their chosen field at the highest level. You should also speak to other qualities the candidate possesses that give you confidence that they can successfully complete a doctoral program and learn to become an original thinker in their chosen field.

    About the Recommendation Process:

    Once you enter your recommender’s information and contact details, they will receive an email with a link to our recommendation materials. Occasionally, this email gets caught in spam filters and does not reach the recommender. In this situation, simply contact our Admissions team ( and we will re-send the recommendation link to your recommender.

    Our recommendation process is completely electronic, and your recommendation will automatically associate with your application once the recommendation is submitted. In other words, once you have finished your portion of the application, you may go ahead and submit your materials. However, once you have submitted your application, you will be unable to edit your application or enter additional recommender information.  

    We find that most recommenders are deadline-oriented, so be sure to stay in touch to make sure they know your application timing. You will receive an email notification once your recommender submits their recommendation. You will also notice a green check mark next to their name and information on your Application Status page (a red “X” will display if the recommendation is still pending). 

  • 8. Respond to Our Essay Question

    For the 2023–24 application cycle we feature one essay question, which provides a broader platform to showcase your aspirations to become an academic - your interests, experiences and passions - as well as what makes you think you can do this for a living, e.g. perseverance, diligence, passion.

    Essay question: Please describe why you wish to join the Darden Doctoral Program and why you believe you would be a successful candidate who can not only complete the program, but contribute to the learning of your peers and the academic environment of the school. Please also provide indications of why you believe you will develop as a scholar who can make original contributions to the cutting edge of research in your chosen field. (700 words maximum)

  • 9. Pay the Application Fee

    A nonrefundable application fee of $100 is required to process your application. However, we do offer fee waivers in select circumstances.

    The following are eligible for application fee waivers:

    ·       Teach for America corps members and alumni

    ·       Peace Corps volunteers

    ·       Education Pioneers fellows 

    ·       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, 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

  • 10. Additional Comments

    Once you’ve finished your application, take a moment to think about your materials holistically. 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. Anything you choose to share should be valuable to both you and potentially our Admissions Committee.