NYU Stern

The City Advantage

Times of India - Mumbai
Sep 29, 2008

In a Q&A with Dean Thomas F Cooley of the Leonard N Stern School of Business, New York University, Niyati Chheda-Gala discusses the benefits of pursuing an MBA in the heart of America's most cosmopolitan city, what it takes to make the cut, and the changing job market in the US today.

Q: Stern is unique because it is located at the heart of a large, dynamic city. How does this location contribute to academics at your B-School?

A: Our urban campus acts as a great intellectual and professional stimulus. We use New York City as both a classroom and a laboratory for learning. Business leaders from banking, finance, entertainment and the media, are frequent guest speakers, enriching our rigorous academic programmes with their pragmatic insights. Many co-curricular activities also take advantage of our location. For example, MBA students are exposed to many of the unique cultural organisations in New York and have the opportunity to consult for them and for small businesses.

Q: Do you see a lot of applications from Indian students? How can Indian students interact with your representatives?

A: For our undergraduate college and full-time MBA programme, India is one of the top countries from which we receive applications. To recruit for our full-time MBA programme, we visit several cities in India during the fall as part of our admissions process. We hold our own presentations in Mumbai, and this year, in Bangalore, as well. We return to the region in the winter to interview prospective students whom we have invited to interview (we interview everyone we admit).

Q: What is the average student profile that you adhere to when reviewing applications for the MBA programme?

A: One of the greatest assets of our school is its community. For example, in our full-time MBA programme, our students bring with them a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, which enriches the experience of their peers.

There are some highlights, however. About 42 per cent of our student body constitutes women, a little more than one-third of our students are international or dual citizens, and we have among the highest percentage of underrepresented minority students at 16 per cent. About 40 per cent of this class previously worked in either the financial services, consulting or marketing industries (data from the Fall 2007 entering class).

In our Executive MBA programme, which targets senior executives, the average age is 38 and almost 50 per cent of enrolled students already hold advanced degrees.

We don't have a defined GMAT score requirement. Applicants can visit our website to see our admitted class profile. As far as work experience is concerned, most students in our full-time MBA programme have about five years of work experience under their belt.

All our programmes are extremely selective and competitive. For entry to our fulltime MBA programme this fall, we received more than 4700 applications for about 400 spots. It was a record year for our GMAT, which hit 707, as well as our selectivity (admissions rate), an indicator of competitiveness, which is 13 per cent.

Q: If the situation is so competitive, what can a student do right before applying to Stern to make sure that he/ she is admitted to a programme?

A: For our full-time MBA programme, we evaluate each candidate holistically, based on academic potential, career history and goals, and personal and professional characteristics. Since our community at our institute is one of our strongest assets, we try to ensure a student's 'fit' with our community. A student must illustrate through the application and interview process why this institute is the right fit for him and how he envisions himself contributing to our community.

Q: Do you think management graduates are holding up well in the face of the current economic situation and changing job market in the US?

A: This is certainly a tougher job market, but our graduating MBA students are faring well. Currently, our placement rate is only slightly behind where we were last year. What we are seeing is that some recent alumni are experiencing lay-offs as a result of the credit crunch. In response to the end of the dot-com bubble in 2001, we created the Career Centre for Working Professionals for our working professional student population and alumni. So we're in a strong position to provide support to our alumni in this economic cycle.