If you are applying to the Chicago Booth MBA program, this MBA Prep School guide is a great place to start learning about the program.
Below we discuss everything from campus life to MBA application strategy. This school guide will provide you with a comprehensive foundation to plot your journey toward Hyde Park in Chicago!
Setting & Campus Life
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business was founded in 1898, making it the nation’s second-oldest business school after Wharton.
The school occupies two campuses, one located in the heart of downtown Chicago and the other in the Hyde Park neighborhood. Among Booth’s claims to fame are its 9 Nobel laureates, a record that’s yet to be surpassed by any other business school. Booth is also known as the founder of the world’s first Executive MBA program, which started in 1943.
Chicago’s convenient midwestern location makes it an ideal place for students to network across a variety of industries in America’s heartland while Booth’s reputation as a premier educational institution means that graduates have no trouble competing for jobs in the more traditional coastal economic hubs. While Booth has earned a well-deserved reputation as a finance juggernaut, it currently boasts competitive fields of student and career placement across a wide swath of sectors including marketing, technology, and entrepreneurship.
- US News (2020): #3
- Economist (2019): #1
- Financial Times (2020): #1
- Businessweek (2019-20): #4
- Poets & Quants (2021): #3
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Profile data for the Chicago Booth MBA Class of 2021:
- GPA Average: 3.6
- GMAT Range: 610- 790
- GMAT Median: 730
- GRE Median: Verbal: 163, Quant: 164
- # of Applicants: 4,433
- # of Admits: 997 (Class of 2021)
- Class Size: 593
- Acceptance rate: 22.5% (Class of 2021)
- International vs Domestic: 31% international
- Demographics: 40% female
- Diversity Information: 27% US minorities
As a top school, Booth sets a high bar for admissions meaning that you will need to present yourself in the best possible light and prove to the admissions committee that what makes you compelling as a candidate matches the strengths and qualities that Chicago cares about most.
What fit qualities does Chicago Booth look for in applicants?
Academic Excellence / Quantitative Ability – whether you showcase your academic potential through grades or test scores or by proving yourself through a track record of success within an intellectually rigorous profession, it is important for you to show the Booth admissions office that you have the analytical talent and intelligence to thrive in Booth’s classroom. Booth is frequently known for having some of the most challenging coursework among top-tier MBA programs and takes pride in admitting students who are able to engage in stimulating discussions in the classroom and within their study groups.
Desire to challenge the Status Quo – The Chicago Approach involves many things, but among these are the ability to question doctrine and challenge convention. If there have been times where you’ve upset the status quo in college, in the workplace, or in your personal life, you’ll want to be sure Booth knows about it.
Data-Driven inquiry and leadership – whether it be finance, marketing, or any of Booth’s fields of study, a data-driven and scientific approach to solving the problem is encouraged at Booth. If you have led projects that required a systematic, and analytical approach, please reflect your experiences in the Booth application, along with what you learned from the experience.
How do members of the MBA community describe the school’s culture?
Balancing Collaboration with Competitiveness
“This is not an environment where you’re fighting to survive because it is so competitive. It’s also not an environment that’s so collaborative that you don’t question the judgment of others. It’s an environment that does an excellent job of balancing both.”
“Within three hours of starting, we were put into a team that was international, culturally diverse, gender diverse,” van der Steene says. “I worked with people from five different cultures, four different continents, six different nationalities. What we were able to achieve as a team was just mind-blowing. When you put the team in the right place and work together, you can get magic.”
Unconventional applications to data analysis
“Data has a growing role in marketing, requiring a broader set of skills. However, creativity and curiosity will always remain critical to driving authentic connections. The fusion of art and science continues.”
What distinguishes Chicago Booth from other top business schools?
The Chicago Approach
Knowing about the Chicago Approach is fundamental to understanding what distinguishes Booth from other top business schools. Its tenets feature strategic problem solving, confidence with ambiguity, and data-driven analysis. The Chicago Approach teaches its graduate students not only the core knowledge needed to solve everyday business problems but also how to approach uncertainty and challenge the status quo.
It was co-developed by Booth professors James Lorie and W. Allen Wallis in the late 1950s and early 1960s at a time where the University of Chicago was beginning to build its brand as a world-class university. The impact of The Chicago Approach is reflected in the program’s flexible curriculum, multi-disciplinary approach to business education, and a broad array of student organizations.
Despite its midwestern location, Chicago Booth features a student body from over 50 countries, and a 54,000 strong alumni network from over 120 countries. In recent years, Booth has opened additional campuses in London and Hong Kong, further enhancing its global brand. Booth’s world-class faculty teaches at all three of these locations, traveling between them during the year.
Booth sends first-year and second-year students on “Random Walks” around the world to Ireland, Brazil, and dozens of other countries. Random Walks are often considered to be one of the most meaningful Booth experiences a student will have because they offer opportunities to bond with fellow classmates while expanding one’s global point of view.
Chicago Booth has a well-deserved reputation as a quantitative powerhouse and wants students to direct a quantitative lens in forming strategy and making marketing decisions – not just analyzing financial statements. Unlike most MBA programs, the school offers over a dozen courses that involve some degree of computer programming. While this may intimidate some students who lack an analytical background, students can rely upon members of the class with a more quantitative background to show them the way.
What unique/special resources does the school offer?
Two years go by quickly and most MBA students don’t want to spend it taking courses that don’t interest them or don’t apply to their career aims. Chicago Booth is famous for having one of the most flexible curriculums among top-tier MBA programs. Booth has only one required course: LEAD, which is informally known as Booth’s orientation program. If you have specialized knowledge within a specific field such as statistics or finance, you may opt to test out of an introductory course and take a more advanced alternative.
Chicago Booth offers over 100 electives, and students may even choose to enroll in courses in a program outside of the business school, such as the Harris School of Public Policy. Typically, full-time students take courses at the Harper Center in Hyde Park but are also allowed to attend sections in downtown Chicago during the evenings and weekends.
Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship
Many MBA students come to campus with dreams of taking the next big idea to market so it should be no surprise that Entrepreneurship is one of the most popular concentrations at Booth. The Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation provides students with the frameworks to commercialize innovation.
The Polsky Center was established in 1998 and features a 60-person full-time staff dedicated to helping Chicago Booth students take their ideas to the next level. Through the New Venture Challenge Program, over 330 startup companies have been launched including household names such as Venmo and Grubhub.
The Adam Smith Society
With free-market thought leaders like Milton Friedman among the legends who have been on the faculty at the University of Chicago, it’s no surprise that The Adam Smith Society had a presence at Booth.
The Adam Smith Society promotes the virtues and modern-day applications of free-market capitalism, and Chicago Booth is one of more than 25 chapters nationwide. In addition to periodic speaker series and social events, an annual conference is held in New York City where like-minded free marketeers can network and exchange ideas.
Who are some of Chicago Booth’s most well-known or popular professors?
George Constantinides, the Leo Melamed Professor of Finance, is a former president of the American Finance Association (AFA) and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His research areas of focus include studying the equity premium, size premium, and derivatives pricing theory. He has published a number of peer-reviewed academic papers including ones focused on equity index option pricing and household consumption risk. Constantinides also serves as a trustee on the Dimensional Fund Advisors family of funds and trusts.
Austan D. Goolsbee, the Robert P. Gwinn Professor of Economics, has served as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers in President Obama’s cabinet. He frequently makes media appearances and comments on current events, economics, and politics. He serves on the Economic Advisory Panel at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and has spent over 25 years at Chicago Booth.
Christopher K. Hsee, the Theodore O. Yntema Professor of Behavioral Science and Marketing, focuses on consumer psychology, decision making, and behavioral economics. His research has been published in top academic journals including the Journal of Marketing Research. He has previously been awarded the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the Society for Consumer Psychology and is the recipient of numerous teaching awards.
Abigail Sussman, Associate Professor of Marketing, studies how consumers form judgments and make purchasing decisions. She applies frameworks that consider research biases and their applications across finance, marketing, and other fields of study. She has prior industry experience working at Goldman Sachs within Equity Research.
Mechanics of the admissions process
Booth’s application consists of two main components; the online application and the invitation-only admissions interview.
The online application consists of the application questions, professional resume, two recommendation letters, unofficial transcripts, GMAT/GRE scores from within the past five years, TOEFL/IELTS/PTE from within the past two years, and a $250 application fee.
The online application must be submitted before 11:59 PM CST on the round’s due date. Should an applicant be selected for an interview, they will be contacted by the mid-decision deadline with more instructions for setting up the interview.
Chicago Booth Application Checklist
- Background information
- Application fee
- Two essays
- Two letters of recommendation
- GMAT or GRE score
- English language test score (if applicable)
Chicago Booth Essay Analysis
2021-2022 Chicago Booth Essay Prompts
Essay 1: How will a Booth MBA help you achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA career goals? (Minimum 250 words, no maximum.)
Essay 2: An MBA is as much about personal growth as it is about professional development. In addition to sharing your experience and goals in terms of career, we’d like to learn more about you outside of the office. Use this opportunity to tell us something about who you are… (Minimum 250 words, no maximum.)
Additional Question: (required for reapplicants): Upon reflection, how has your perspective regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application? (Maximum 300 words.)
Optional Question: Is there any unclear information in your application that needs further explanation? (Maximum 300 words.)
2021-2022 Chicago Booth Essay Tips
MBA Prep School has published detailed essay guidance and tips. Click to read our Chicago Booth MBA Essay Analysis.
Chicago Booth Recommendation Letter Questions
Chicago Booth asks recommenders to respond to two questions in their recommendation letter.
- How do the applicant’s performance, potential, background, or personal qualities compare with those of other well-qualified individuals in similar roles? Please provide specific examples.
- Please describe the most important piece of constructive feedback you have given the applicant. Please detail the circumstances and the applicant’s response.
Chicago Booth Interview Tips
Are Booth MBA interviews invitation-only?
Who conducts the interviews?
The interview will be conducted by a current or former student or a member of the Admissions Committee.
What interview style does Booth MBA use?
Booth conducts an interview to ascertain a student’s fit with Booth and track record of professional and personal achievements. Candidates will be asked about their prior work experience, community impact, interest in Booth, and post-MBA work experience and will be evaluated on their interpersonal skills, thoughtfulness of responses, and potential to contribute to the Booth community. Booth interviewers are typically friendly and seen as ambassadors for the program.
Sample Interview Questions
- Walk me through your resume
- Why [your industry]? Why [the company you joined] right after school?
- Where do you want to work after school?
- Tell me about your current role and what you do.
- Can you tell me more about how you use [skillset x] in your job?
- In your performance reviews, what are your greatest strengths noted?
- What are your weaknesses, or areas of improvement in performance reviews?
- How do you lead a team? How do you manage projects? How do you track status? Do you conclude by issuing final reports? Take me through the process.
- How would your direct supervisor describe you in a sentence? What about colleagues?
- Why an MBA? Can you make the switch without an MBA?
- Why an MBA now specifically? Why not wait 1 or 2 more years?
- Why Booth? What specific classes are you most interested in taking? What clubs do you want to be involved in during school? Do you have friends at Booth?
- Why didn’t you apply to Kellogg if you want to be in Chicago?
- Are you currently reading any books?
- What do you do in your free time?
- What was the last place you traveled to? Did you go by yourself?
- What are your thoughts on Booth not having a cohort system/ sections?
- Do you have any concerns about Booth?
Chicago Booth Post-MBA Careers
What fields or industries do most graduates go to work in post-MBA?
Financial Services (36.2%), Consulting (34.8%), Product Management (Tech) (6.4%)
Which companies hire the most Chicago Booth MBA graduates?
McKinsey, BCG, Amazon, Bain, Goldman Sachs, Google, J.P. Morgan, PwC, Credit Suisse