Applying to UCLA Anderson

Sun, beach, entertainment management program – while Anderson definitely has these assets that few other MBA programs can match, it also excels in the traditional areas that are valued by applicants. The Anderson program offers a general management curriculum that allows students to select from specializations in 11 areas or even create their own specialization. The specializations cover a wide range of topics including Finance, Marketing, Entrepreneurial Studies, Information Systems, Real Estate, and Accounting. In support of its flexible general management learning model, Anderson is in search of candidates who display a unique balance of leadership and teamwork capabilities.

Anderson views leadership in three basic ways. First, it recognizes leaders for their ability to convey strategic direction and vision to others. Vision allows for the unification of the group behind a common goal. Second, Anderson views leaders as problem-solvers who apply their analytical and communication skills to overcome challenges. Finally, Anderson defines leaders as people who cultivate the first two capabilities in others. Anderson does not view leadership and teamwork in separate spheres and therefore notes that the best leaders are also the best team players. The Anderson learning model provides students with opportunities to improve their balance of leadership and teamwork skills through team simulations, team-building exercises, analytical models, and projects. Your challenge is to display fit with Anderson’s definition of leadership. One of the best places to do that is in answering the essay questions. Try to provide an example that shows your leadership skills along the lines of the three definitions.

Anderson’s entrepreneurship program has served, in many ways, as the model for many other business schools. The program offers a blend of coursework, entrepreneurial resources, and “hands-on” opportunities. At the core of Anderson’s entrepreneurship program is the Price Center. The Price Center provides support for the development of course materials, research, and experiential opportunities. One such opportunity, the Knapp Venture Competition, is a traditional business plan contest, through which participants can win venture capital funding. The Venture Fellows Program and the Student Investment Fund – two competitive programs that students must apply for – expose participants to venture capital and investment management activities. Students can also gain exposure to new ventures through the Wolfen Award, which calls for selected students to complete a feasibility study on a start-up as part of an internship. Because of Anderson’s strength in entrepreneurship, discussing your own entrepreneurial inclination can be a great way to display fit with the school and to differentiate yourself based on your unique ideas.

Anderson is also often recognized for its leading technology programs. It often receives praise for its use of technology in the classroom. If you are interested in technology, you will find a number of interesting courses and opportunities in which to participate. Similar in its function to the Price Center, the Center for Management in the Information Economy provides resources to faculty in their research on how technology is impacting the business environment. Despite Anderson’s low acceptance rate and its great reputation, the school has a relatively low yield percentage. The school is looking for improvement in that area and will evaluate applicants closely to see if they are really committed to Anderson or are just applying to diversify risk. Along those lines, establishing fit is extremely important. You are given an explicit opportunity to show that Anderson is your top pick in its essays. Be sure to capitalize on that opportunity by displaying intimate knowledge of the program and then go the extra step by explaining how you would get involved in school activities to further bolster Anderson’s reputation.

Insider Information

A unique aspect of the Anderson learning model is the Applied Management Research Project. This six month project is the last requirement of the MBA program and follows in line with Anderson’s perspective on leadership, teamwork, and applied learning. The projects are completed in teams of three to five and generally consist of a strategic consulting assignment or the development of a business venture idea. In either case, students are able to apply their entire Anderson toolkit in a comprehensive manner. Discussing your interest in this project – and more generally, in the hands-on learning opportunities that Anderson offers – during your interview or in your application is another good way to show fit.

What Makes Anderson Different?

  • The UCLA Anderson culture. The emphasis on teamwork inside and outside of the classroom is the hallmark of the UCLA Anderson experience and the foundation for the rest of the school’s approach. Student collaboration and leadership within teams is the attribute that ties everything together at UCLA Anderson. There are several schools with great student cultures – NYU Stern is known for the way students look out for each other during the job search process and Duke Fuqua is legendary for the enthusiasm on display from the various student groups – but Anderson’s culture is largely unmatched, save perhaps for Kellogg. In fact, Anderson and Kellogg can often seem very similar in this one area of true collaboration and a spirit of teamwork that runs through the entire program.
  • Real social venture initiatives. Social enterprise programs have sprouted at most top business schools and “doing good” is a theme on a lot of campuses, however the wealth of on-campus activities and resources at Anderson and the number of opportunities to get involved is more extensive than at many other schools. From the standards like the NetImpact club, to Challenge for Charity, to the very unique Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Disabled Veterans and a wide range of others, Anderson students have the ability to participate in important efforts to make the most of their time at business school.
  • Sustainable business. UCLA was the first major business school to create a special certificate in sustainability for its MBA program, and now the Leaders for Sustainability has grown to over 100 students every year. Anderson is also seeking LEED certification for its building, and students participate in the 1000 Homes competition and the California Clean Innovation Conference, among other events.
  • Entrepreneurship. Other schools offer entrepreneurship, but few have innovation and new thinking ingrained into the culture the same way that UCLA Anderson does. From the Business Creation Option of its Applied Management Research requirement, in which students literally start a new venture, to the multiple business plan competitions and Entrepreneurship Week, Anderson students are immersed in the mindset of entrepreneurship on campus.
  • Diversity. Not only does UCLA Anderson have a wide mix of students across every spectrum – age, racial background, country of origin, gender – but it also attracts a very diverse mix of students by profession, both in terms of what career Anderson students pursued before getting their MBAs, and what new direction they are taking themselves upon graduation. Unlike most schools which have a high concentration of sending graduates to just one or two separate industries (usually finance or consulting leading the list), Anderson graduates disperse all across the workforce in a vast array of industries and jobs. There is not one predominant career focus at Anderson, which fosters a vibrant community and eliminates some of the cliques that can develop at other schools.

The UCLA Anderson Approach

Prominent programs and organizations such as the Riordan Programs and Challenge for Charity offer students the opportunity to explore concepts surrounding social responsibility.
Unlike Harvard Business School, where the Case Study Method serves as such a clear and distinguishable backbone to the HBS approach, UCLA Anderson’s methodology is comprised of a multi-faceted approach primary delivered in a lecture format. The following are the key aspects of a UCLA Anderson education that comprise the framework of the MBA experience:

Diversity of Coursework within a Generalist Approach. The classroom approach at UCLA Anderson mirrors its general curriculum. While students may focus on a certain subset of course work, there are no declared specialties or designations. With the 10 core classes, students are expected to collaborate with other team members, each from differing professional backgrounds and skills sets. By putting everyone on the same page, the core offers a base of skills that are as much lessons in human relations and cooperation as they are on a given subject matter. Beyond the core, students will gravitate towards a multitude of electives in eight specialty areas – and the assortment of electives changes each year as the faculty evaluate and respond to what’s going on in the real world. The eight areas of focus at Anderson include Consulting, Entertainment and Media Management, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Management, Marketing, Operations, and Real Estate.

Practical Approach to Learning. Many elite business schools offer its students the chance to study in the field and to get real world experience, but few incorporate the mantra of “learning by doing” to the degree of UCLA. The crux of this approach is the Applied Management Research project (AMR). The AMR project is conducted in teams of 4-6 students during the second year and represents a capstone to the UCLA Anderson experience. From the number of students who participate in business plan competitions to unique classroom opportunities to create and test new technologies, UCLA Anderson allows every student to find a way to put their theoretical learning to the real world test. The school offers a nearly unparalleled variety of courses and labs that focus almost entirely on learning by doing.

Leadership and Social Responsibility. As mentioned above, UCLA Anderson puts a great deal of focus on leadership and a commitment to community. This applies to the admissions process, but also to the coursework and educational experience as the school attempts to elevate good leaders to great ones. Specific leadership courses and a pre-term orientation course, Leadership Foundations, bring this approach to the curriculum. Prominent programs and organizations such as the Riordan Programs and Challenge for Charity offer students the opportunity to explore concepts surrounding social responsibility.

Global Perspective. Like many top business schools, UCLA can boast an increasingly global approach to its learning environment and coursework. The student body is comprised of students from 40 different countries anthe school has focused coursework and experiential learning opportunities specific to the global landscape, such as the Global Access Program, Advanced International Exchange Program (about 20 students participate each quarter), and Special Topics in Management courses that focus on emerging economies.

Application Essays

  1. What is your proudest achievement outside the workplace, and how has it impacted you? (700 words maximum)
  2. What are your short-term and long-term career goals, and how will an MBA from UCLA Anderson specifically help you achieve these goals? (700 words maximum)

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

An Insider's Guide to the Top Business Schools

Veritas Prep’s Essential Guides were written and edited by our MBA admissions experts, incorporating unique insights from current students and recent graduates. We’ll show you what type of student thrives in each program, what life is really like in the classroom, which professors students love, how the job hunt works, and more. In each report we also highlight “hidden gems” at each school, as well as areas where a school isn’t as strong as it may seem.