Applying to NYU Stern

While the NYU Stern School has many things going for it, the selling point that comes up most often is its location. Stern sits right in New York City’s Greenwich Village, between Manhattan’s Midtown and Financial District. Students and grads rave about the school’s location, and the administration smartly plays up its ties to New York when promoting Stern.

Given Stern’s location, it is not surprising that more than 40% of grads go into investment banking, where the Stern name and alumni network are strongest. Taking into account other finance and investment-related jobs, this number climbs to more than 60%. Although Stern’s overall academic reputation is strong, most people consider its finance department to be by far the school’s greatest strength. If you are interested in work outside of finance, don’t rule out Stern, but know that finance is where most of the action has historically been. The good news is that the school is aware of this perceived inequity and has been working hard to boost its other academic departments.

While Stern is best known for finance, its approach to management education is mostly a general one. First-year students go through a complete required curriculum of courses in all of the business fundamentals, with the bulk of elective coursework coming in the second year. Stern grads earn either a general management MBA or pursue up to three specializations in areas including finance, marketing, consulting, real estate, entertainment & media. Some of these specializations utilize cross-registrations with other schools at NYU, such as the Real Estate Institute and the Tisch School of Arts, while others take advantage of the school’s location in the city by offering opportunities for hands-on learning at various partner companies.

Stern’s New York ties are also very apparent in its faculty makeup. The school boasts dozens of adjunct professors, many of whom are highly regarded veterans of the New York business community. The school prides itself on giving its students lessons with real-world applications, and part of this is letting students hear lessons straight from these veterans’ mouths.

Stern also heavily promotes the strong spirit of community among its students. Students and grads sometimes comment that they were pleasantly surprised to find that the culture is more cooperative than they expected. If you apply to Stern, don’t discount the importance of teamwork in your message. The school is less impressed by individual achievers than it is in well-grounded people who have excelled in their past jobs by working with others. Also know that the other key ingredient in Stern’s community is student involvement, from its Stern Student Corporation (Stern’s version of student government) to its many student-run clubs and conferences. Stern is looking for people who like to get involved, so be sure to bring this out in your application.

The school is also serious about entrepreneurship, and offers students a number of ways to pursue the subject while at Stern. The Berkley Center for Entrepreneurial Studies serves as the hub for this activity, running conferences and facilitating a mentoring program for budding Stern entrepreneurs. Stern’s annual business plan competition is one of the most popular of its kind, offering a traditional business plan track and a social entrepreneurship track, with prizes of up to $100,000. This is an area of the program that the school continues to emphasize. If you consider yourself to be an entrepreneur, or you want to be one, be sure to let the Stern admissions committee know about it.

Insider Information

With an admitted student yield of about 50%, Stern gets stiff competition for finance-minded students. It’s an outstanding program, but one that happens to have another top-ranked finance-oriented school (Columbia) just uptown and another within driving distance in Philadelphia (Wharton). Showing the admissions committee that Stern really is where you want to be—and having convincing reasons for why this is the case—is important. In your Stern application, take particular note of Essay #2, which specifically asks you to describe what interactions you have had with the “Stern community” and what you have done to learn more about the program. It’s a great question, and a strong cue that you need to really do your homework about Stern. If you do, you can greatly improve your odds of success.

What Makes Stern Different?


The Stern Approach

The Stern School’s mission – “to deliver the highest quality management education to the brightest business students in a dynamic environment of mutual learning, teamwork and support, to advance the frontiers of business knowledge by fostering creative, cutting-edge research, and to leverage to the maximum extent our vital connection to New York City-our home, campus, classroom, and laboratory” – is evident in its approach to delivering its MBA programming, which aims to balance theory and conceptual frameworks with practical application. A solid base of management skills is built through required core courses, and students can then build on that knowledge through specialized electives.

The Stern School’s mission is to deliver the highest quality management education to the brightest business students in a dynamic environment of mutual learning, teamwork and support, to advance the frontiers of business knowledge by fostering creative, cutting-edge research, and to leverage to the maximum extent our vital connection to New York City-our home, campus, classroom, and laboratory.
Real-World Perspective in its New York City Home. Leveraging its physical location at the heart of New York City, Stern strives to encompass all of the dynamic energy of the “world’s business capital” in its MBA programs. The Stern School prides itself on its real-world approach to business education, and on the balance the school’s programs provide between theoretical learning and practical, “roll-up-your-sleeves” engagement in the broadly defined business community. For example, a case study developed by now Distinguished Service Professor of Management Emeritus Richard Freedman on New York’s Metropolitan Opera has given numerous students open access to and in-depth understanding of the venerable institution (and a great chance to soak up some culture, to boot!).

In fact, the Metropolitan Opera is just the tip of the iceberg, as Stern has rolled out a program called New York City Cases, which puts students in a variety of high profile and interesting scenarios. Designed as a large group platform, each New York City Case invites 200 students to an area organization, where they will soak up a “day in the life” at that place of business (one example is going to the Steinberg piano company, where students watch how the pianos are assembled), and then go through a panel Q&A session before being presented with a specific problem to address in the form of a team analysis paper. Cases can be any subject matter, but often focus on marketing, operations, or strategy.

Highly Diverse, Yet Highly Collaborative Community. Stern is proud of the exceptional diversity of its student body, and students thrive in the rich, multicultural environment it affords; the school publicizes the fact that it has a student body representing over 50 different nationalities and has long enjoyed greater ethnic and racial diversity than other comparable programs, as well as a higher percentage of women. Despite the fact that over half of its students in any given year are aiming for post-MBA employment in a finance-related sector, Stern is by no means one-dimensional in terms of its academics, nor is it looking for competitive “lone stars” to feed into the banking industry. Participation in student organizations is prolific, with most students involved in two or more. Academic collaboration is a cornerstone of the Stern programs, and students actively engage with each other and with the faculty, administration, and staff in all aspects of the MBA experience. In fact, many prospective students who visit the campus are surprised at the high degree of collaboration and mutual support between Stern classmates and within the broader community, even relative to other comparable programs.

Each New York City Case invites 200 students to an area organization, where they will soak up a ‘day in the life’ at that place of business.
Broad-based and Balanced MBA Curriculum. Although it is best known for its finance department, Stern takes a balanced and general approach to management education. In their first year, MBA students are required to study a rigorous core curriculum covering all fundamental areas of business. In the second year, students can customize the Stern curriculum to meet specific academic and professional goals by choosing up to three specializations (or none at all), taking electives during the day or in the evening with students from the part time MBA program, leveraging one of the many study abroad offerings, or registering for elective courses at other NYU graduate schools.

Relevant Course Content and Evolving Teaching Methodology. Stern’s teaching methodology particularly emphasizes team projects, case studies, experiential learning, and lectures. The school’s strong research emphasis is evident in class content, which is regularly updated to reflect relevant developments in the business world as well as Stern’s belief in the integration of MBA subject matter. The highly engaged (and engaging) professors encourage students to challenge their assertions and create a healthy back-and-forth in the lecture halls and classrooms on a daily basis. The world outside the classroom serves as a very real and regular venue for testing skills and theories, with opportunities like studying a local company as the basis for a group project, advising New York City non-profits through the Stern Consulting Corp (SCC), making investment decisions through the Michael Price Student Investment Fund, and obtaining funding for a new venture through the annual Entrepreneur Business Plan Competition, which is open to one and all.

Application Essays

Essay 1: Professional Aspirations (750 words)

(a) Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life?
(b) What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?
(c) What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation?

Essay 2: Your Two Paths (500 words)

The mission of the Stern School of Business is to develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society. Given today’s ever-changing global landscape, Stern seeks and develops leaders who thrive in ambiguity, embrace a broad perspective and think creatively about the range of ways they can have impact.
(a) Describe two different and distinct paths you could see your career taking long term. How do you see your two paths unfolding?
(b) How do your paths tie to the mission of NYU Stern?
(c) What factors will most determine which path you will take?

Essay 3: Personal Expression (500 words or 5-minute video)

Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates. You may use almost any method to convey your message (e.g. words, illustrations). Feel free to be creative.
If you submit a non-written piece for Essay 3 (i.e., artwork or multimedia) or if you submit Essay 3 via mail, please upload a brief description of your submission with your online application.

All school information appears courtesy of Your MBA Game Plan and is used with express permission of the authors.

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Learn About Other Top Business Schools

Business Schools
Chicago (Booth) Columbia Dartmouth (Tuck)
Duke (Fuqua) Harvard INSEAD
Michigan (Ross) MIT (Sloan) Northwestern (Kellogg)
NYU (Stern) Penn (Wharton) Stanford
UC Berkeley (Haas) UCLA (Anderson) Yale