Applying to the Yale School of Management

The Yale School of Management (SOM) aims to produce leaders who will make a difference both within their organizations and in their communities. The school’s stated mission is to educate leaders “for business and society.” While nearly two-thirds of each class go into finance or consulting (like most other business schools), there is a much greater emphasis on nonprofit and public sector lessons and opportunities at Yale than at most other schools. No matter what their career goals are, the candidates who most appeal to the admissions committee are the ones who demonstrate a broad perspective and an understanding of the importance of contributing to society at large.

Fittingly, Yale has one of the best known non-profit programs in the United States. The school offers extensive elective options in nonprofit and public sector management, and also provides students with a variety of opportunities for getting involved in their communities outside of class. Yale’s Internship Fund, established in 1979, provides financial assistance to students who take on non- or low-paying jobs in the nonprofit or public sector. Funds are raised from contributions from the Yale SOM community, and approximately 20% of the class receives some amount of funding in any given year. Even if you don’t plan on pursuing a nonprofit job after school, demonstrating enthusiasm for getting involved in this type of program can help further show your fit with the school.

Entrepreneurship is also a focus at Yale, and students have several opportunities to get involved in building a business. Yale is one of the key partner schools in the Haas-led Global Social Venture Competition, giving students the chance to combine their entrepreneurial chops and their desire to do good in a competition vs. students from across the globe. The school’s Program on Social Enterprise (PSE) provides additional support and opportunities for students who are interested in the intersection between business and positive social impact.

Yale stresses the importance of understanding the interaction between the private sector and public sector, so you want to demonstrate a “big picture” view and a willingness to learn about how one affects the other, no matter what your career interest is. Yale especially looks for people who are comfortable with having their thinking challenged and are willing to take intellectual risks. The more you can demonstrate a willingness to “think outside of the box” both on the job and in your extracurricular activities, the better off you will be. Additionally, the school looks for applicants with integrity, so think about how you can demonstrate this as part of the maturity dimension in your application.

Further, Yale is looking for business-minded people who are just as comfortable talking about world politics as they are building an asset pricing model. You can show a fit with the program by demonstrating your knowledge of current events and a natural desire to get involved in your community. While Yale’s application no longer features an essay question that hits this head-on, the school still looks for people who are aware of the world around them and want to make a positive impact. No need to force it and promise that you’re out to cure world hunger when you’re not, but keep this in mind if you’re serious about applying to Yale SOM.

Insider Information

Spend some time familiarizing yourself with Yale SOM’s innovative new core curriculum. While many business schools these days are talking the talk about multidisciplinary approaches to problem solving, Yale is really walking the walk with its new program. The new curriculum eliminates the traditional core courses of Finance, Marketing, Strategy, etc., in favor of eight courses (called “Organization Perspectives”) that each correspond to a certain role or stakeholder in an organization. Examples include the employee, the customer, the innovator, and the investor. The traditional management disciplines are still present and accounted for, but are taught together in the context of those eight organizational roles. Other additions to the core curriculum include the International Experience, a mandatory two-week trip abroad for all first-year students, making Yale the first top U.S. business school to make overseas study a required part of the curriculum. The changes to Yale’s core curriculum are significant. Make sure that you understand them as you develop your Yale application strategy.

What Makes Yale Different?

As we have hopefully made clear, the curriculum at Yale is unlike what you’ll find at any other school. Much of the cases have been developed by the faculty themselves, in order to cater to their unique method of teaching.

Other aspects of the Yale experience that are unusual when compared to its peers?
  • “Coopetition”. Many schools emphasize teamwork and a collaborative culture. Yale is a friendly school where generally, people are trying to help each other succeed. The term of art for this is “coopetition” (SOM Professor Barry Nalebuff even wrote a book on it) and you can find it in action both inside and outside the classroom at Yale.
  • “Raw Case” Approach. Yale SOM offers a unique version of the popular case method teaching style, known as the “Raw Case” approach to management education. Most case method programs use what are commonly referred to as “cooked” cases (or “closed” cases) that are packaged and synthesized before use. Yale SOM has developed its own set of cases which are housed on a multimedia platform and feature the types of open-ended, “fuzzy” source materials that a professional might encounter while analyzing a problem. Sometimes, the opportunity to tackle a “live” case presents itself, for example, when a high-visibility corporate issue is being actively followed in the media. These cases require students to sift through all the data and information to find what is pertinent and what can be ignored. Distilling information is often one of the most challenging aspects of real-world problem-solving, and Yale SOM attempts to teach students how to jump over this hurdle before diving into an analysis.
  • Required International Experience. First-year students are required to travel to one of several destinations in the world as part of the International Experience Destinations program. (Stanford introduced a similar requirement after Yale launched theirs.) These ten-day trips allow students to study their businesses of interest within another culture and setting. The trip is linked to the spring course State and Society and the year-long Leadership Development Program. This furthers SOM’s long-standing history of maintaining a global perspective.
  • Diversity. Most top programs have some level of outreach to underrepresented groups (women, African-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans). However, Yale is much more proactive in their diversity initiatives. The new Pre-MBA Leadership program is a fully-sponsored summer session for minority college students, which is designed to introduce them to the MBA experience - and hopefully help them choose Yale when they are ready for their MBA. Yale has also participated in The Consortium, a joint effort among many good schools that offers a streamlined application for minority candidates (though note that Consortium applications have different deadlines, and at Yale, all Consortium candidates are evaluated together, with decisions released for all of them in mid-February).
First-year students are required to travel to one of several destinations in the world as part of the International Experience Destinations program.
Yale SOM has developed its own set of cases which are housed on a multimedia platform and feature the types of open-ended, ‘fuzzy’ source materials that a professional might encounter while analyzing a problem

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