Applying to Dartmouth Tuck

Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business is a small but highly respected MBA program. The country’s first graduate school of management offers one of the smallest programs among the top 30 schools, with about 240 students in each class. The small class size – coupled with the school’s location in rural Hanover, New Hampshire – results in a close-knit community in which everyone knows everyone else. Many Tuck students even live together in on-campus housing in their first year, and the school is working on a new “living and learning” complex to keep students nearby.

Academically, Tuck’s MBA program focuses on turning out strong general managers. Most of the first-year curriculum consists of mandatory core courses in the main management disciplines, with students just taking one elective course and completing a first-year project in the spring term. The second year is open for electives, although no specific majors are offered. First-year students complete most of their coursework in study groups, which Tuck emphasizes as a way for students to grow closer and to develop their teamwork skills. More than the average top program, Tuck is looking for students who demonstrate strong teamwork skills, so make sure that this is a main theme in your Tuck application.

Tuck also takes leadership seriously. In 2003 it introduced a program called the Cohen Leadership Development Program. The program is a highly personalized extension of the first-year curriculum. It relies on team coursework, peer assessments, and one-on-one coaching to help students develop their own leadership development plans. The Cohen program also extends into students’ second year, with a series of summits and speaking engagements featuring successful executives.

Tuck’s close-knit community extends well beyond Hanover, New Hampshire. The school’s alumni are known for their fierce loyalty to the school and to each other, and Tuck touts its alumni’s annual giving rate of 64% as evidence of this dedication. While the school may not have an alum at every company or in every industry, Tuck students are known to get good results from the alumni they do call on. In your own application make sure that you can provide convincing proof that you too will be an active alum, preferably by demonstrating loyalty to your undergraduate school.

Tuck’s remote location means that it’s not for everyone. Some applicants, especially those with spouses, often find it difficult to relocate to Hanover. To its credit, Tuck goes out of its way to make the transition a smooth one, often providing spouses and partners with full-time work around campus. Still, some applicants who visit the school ultimately decide that it’s not for them. This means two things for you:
  1. Make sure that you really want to attend Tuck before you apply. It’s a great school, but its size and location sometimes turn people off. Save yourself a lot of time if you think these aspects of the program will be a problem for you.
  2. Even more importantly, you really need to demonstrate why Tuck is for you. Tuck’s students tend to be passionate about their school, and you need to demonstrate this same passion in your application. Visiting the school – especially for your interview – can go a long way toward helping you make your case. Also, think about applying in Tuck’s Early Action round (with applications due by mid-October) if you are sure that Tuck is where you want to be.

Insider Information

Tuck may not quite be the household name that Stanford and Harvard are, but its general management program is regarded as one the best in the country. Tuck graduates have a strong reputation in consulting and financial services, particularly on the east coast, where nearly two-thirds of its graduates live after school. If you are considering a career in general management, or are interested in consulting or banking, don’t overlook Tuck. If you can demonstrate that the school’s environment is right for you, and make a case for why the general management approach is what you want out of business school, then Tuck will give your application strong consideration.

What Makes Tuck Different?

Tuck is the ultimate “come as you are” business school.
  • Small classes, personal attention. Partly because of the remote location, and partly because of the small class size, Tuck has a smaller full-time resident faculty (less than 50) with fewer adjunct professors than other schools. However, the small class size also benefits the students, with a student/teacher ratio of about 10:1. The intimacy of the community is also enhanced by the fact that most first-year students live in dormitories on campus. (If you want to see what the Tuck dorms look like, check out the tour on the school’s YouTube channel.) This arrangement is not common at other full-time programs, where students tend to be more spread out, especially those in cities like New York and Chicago. Another novelty at Tuck that fosters relationships among the class? The first-year study groups rotate regularly, rather than remaining fixed, the way they typically are elsewhere.
  • Dedication to diversity. Tuck’s Minority Business Executive was the first diversity-focused program of its kind. Tuck launched this initiative over 30 years ago, and the school remains dedicated to attracting students across all ethnographic and demographic spectrums. Tuck sponsors a by-application Diversity Conference in the Fall (they cover the cost of attendance for those accepted – and there’s a similar by-application Women in Business Conference as well). Tuck participates in conferences hosted by National Black MBA, National Hispanic MBA, and Reaching Out MBA (for the LGBT community). And, Tuck is the highest-ranked member of The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, which is a long-standing program that encourages and facilitates minority candidates for business school. All that being said, Tuck still seems to have trouble attracting minorities compared to some of its peers, with just 19% of Tuckies being U.S. minorities. The proportion of minority faculty is slightly better, at 21% (commendably, Tuck is among the few programs who bother to report this latter statistic). Tuck also adds diversity to the classroom by encouraging international students – and encouraging U.S. employers to hire their international students, through deliberate education to recruiters to demystify visa requirements, and focused outreach on the behalf of these international students.
  • Emphasis on work experience. While some other business schools in its backyard have been welcoming younger and younger students, Tuck has held steadfast on its requirement for significant work experience prior to matriculation. The average age of a first-year is 28, and not a single person entered Tuck straight from college this year; 100% have some work experience. It’s possible for a college senior to apply to Tuck, though if accepted, it’s also likely that deferred admission would be offered, to matriculate in a few years’ time.
  • Stable leadership. The dean of Tuck, Paul Danos, has been running the show for much longer, about 15 years, than his counterparts at other schools. Many top business schools have gone through transition periods of late (some multiple times in quick succession) as they adapt to changed leadership and find their direction anew. The continuity here – and a leader who has already weathered multiple economic cycles and knows how to keep the school moving forward despite the challenges – can provide advantages for students at Tuck.
  • “Students learn the most when they fully immerse themselves in their studies. The physical setting and intensity of learning experiences are key factors in the effectiveness of our program.”
    – Tuck School of Business
  • Unusual admissions policies and processes. Tuck doesn’t seem to be trying to do things differently just to do them differently (as we sometimes suspect at other schools), however they also are more likely to do things differently because that’s just how they operate. Here are some differences in the admissions process that stand out at Tuck:
    • If you have taken the GMAT or the GRE multiple times, Tuck will allow you to “cherry-pick” the best verbal score, and the best quant score, from different sittings of the test. (You cannot combine different components of the GRE with those of the GMAT however.) This is definitely different than other schools and it shows that Tuck is liberal in inviting candidates to truly demonstrate their strengths.
    • Tuck does not accept applications from people who already hold an MBA, which disqualifies a large number of Indian candidates who went straight to business school after college, and now, after working for awhile, realize that they would benefit from another run-through at a formal business education. Some other schools are open to this applicant profile; Tuck is not.
    • Tuck calls the letter of recommendation a “Confidential Statement of Qualifications” (or “CSQ”). We appreciate the precision of this name, though it can be a little confusing when first introduced to the process.
    • Probably the difference that can be overlooked, and can potentially matter most to applicants, is the fact that the Tuck scholarship application requires another essay, in addition to the standard application essays; other schools often do not require anything further to be considered for fellowships and scholarship funding.
    • Another nuance is that Tuck does permit deferrals from time to time, so if you gain an offer of admission and some life event arises that prevents you from attending business school on the originally-planned schedule, you may see some flexibility from the admissions department (other schools are much more strict about refusing deferrals in any situation).
    • Finally, Tuck encourages all candidates to come to Hanover to tour campus, sit in on a class, and interview in person. Even international candidates. See the Application section of this Essential Guide with details on this important point.
These are just the most obvious ways that Tuck is different. This entire Essential Guide is full of others. We encourage you to use this information as a springboard to explore the unique aspects to the Dartmouth MBA program.

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