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Duke Fuqua MBA Admissions Part 1: The Decency Quotient

At Menlo Coaching, we respect Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business for aiming to admit students who are intelligent, collaborative, and above all, decent human beings.

Menlo Coaching’s founding partner David White sat down with Duke Fuqua’s Associate Dean for Admissions Shari Hubert to discuss what distinguishes the Fuqua School of Business from other business schools.

This interview includes:

  1. The “Decency Quotient”
  2. How the Decency Quotient Helps with Recruiting and Placement
  3. Demonstrating Decency
  4. More Insights on the Decency Quotient

Skip around to the topics that interest you most using the chapter selector, , at the bottom right of the player.

Ready to start your application? Apply to Fuqua

When business schools claim they like to recruit students who are collaborative and supportive, what they usually mean is that they’ll still admit students based on their hard stats, and wouldn’t it be great if they were also half-way decent humans? Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, however, is truly committed to accepting applicants who have more to offer. If you’re interested in applying to Fuqua, you should keep in mind that Fuqua admits students based on their so-called “Decency Quotient,” as well as test scores and GPA. They are looking for you to be a true team player who can push excellence not only within themselves, but also in others.

The Decency Quotient

Fuqua believes that business can be an engine for good across society. They also believe that to succeed in business, you need excellent leadership skills, which in turn require an individual to channel the strengths of a team to work towards a common goal. Leaders not only need to be smart and empathic, but also decent human beings who have your best interests at heart, and can deal with polarizing viewpoints and differences within a team. This Decency Quotient (“DQ”) is what Fuqua uses to identify and train future leaders.

Impact of the DQ on MBA value

So what does that mean for the student culture at Fuqua and what kind of impact will that have on your MBA experience? An important aspect of this emphasis on the DQ is that the Fuqua community strives to support the ambition of its students, and the students at Fuqua are generally happy due to the sense of community in the program. 

Fuqua Support System

If you’re looking for a supportive and collaborative MBA experience, you are likely to find that at Fuqua. When selecting future MBA students, the admissions committee looks for individuals who care about others and have their best interests at heart. If you are admitted to Fuqua, you are expected to contribute to the business school’s culture of serving the community.

As a result, the value of an MBA at Fuqua goes beyond the lessons learned in the classroom. It is enhanced by the wealth of information gained from peer interactions on a daily basis. Because students have classes on Fridays and have Wednesdays free, many of your peers won’t be able to find the time to leave campus every weekend. So you don’t have to worry about Fuqua being a commuter school. This helps create a warm and friendly atmosphere and fosters a sense of community. 

As evident from the essay questions in Fuqua’s MBA application, each student is encouraged to take part in the community by contributing their strengths to help their fellow students succeed. There is an entire essay devoted to describing exactly what you’ll do to help your classmates and how. For example, second-year Career Fellows mentor the first years as they navigate the job search. This support system, brought on by the DQ, truly promotes an amicable and team-oriented environment. 

Decency Leads to Employability

Although enjoying the sense of community and company of your peers is a valuable part of the MBA experience, we know that many of you go into the MBA hoping to accelerate your careers. The good news is that it isn’t just the student body that recognizes the DQ’s positive influence; employers are also aware of the importance of DQ at Fuqua, and they recognize this quality as a distinguishing factor of Fuqua graduates. In fact, Fuqua Dean Bill Boulding sends out emails to employers about the DQ, and time after time, employers report the DQ as one of the reasons that draws them to recruit from Fuqua.

The Fuqua training will prepare you to face team challenges and dynamics. In 2018, the ability to work with others was reported by this GMAT survey as the most important personal quality expected of business school graduates. In other words, they want that servant leader that Fuqua provides. Additionally, Fuqua simulates real world environments in the classroom to ensure that their students develop collaboration and leadership skills to work towards a common goal in a team. 

Demonstrating DQ

Now that we’ve convinced you that the DQ is important, the question is, how do you convince the admissions committee that you are a good fit? Well, the admissions committee knows that there are several tells in your application that can indicate whether you’re a team player who is aware of the contributions of others. You can demonstrate your DQ at various stages of the application process, and we’ve broken this down for you so that you can give the right impression.

Before Applying

Prospective students are judged on their DQ even before submitting their applications. While interacting with current MBA students or alumni, monopolizing the conversation during group discussions signifies a low DQ, whereas providing encouragement to others in a conversation indicates a high DQ. In interacting via emails, applicants may also be judged on whether they ask thoughtful questions, as opposed to questions whose answers can be found on the website. 

In the Application 

Essays and interviews are two places where you can communicate your DQ to the committee. In describing behavioral situations, don’t anonymize other team members who may have played an important role in the story. Moreover, future members of Team Fuqua are interviewed by the program’s second-year Admissions Fellows, who will be looking to identify the DQ for their incoming class.

After Applying

Following up with those you have interviewed with or talked to indicates respect for someone’s time. Even if you decide against attending the program, acknowledging someone for their time is a decent thing to do.

All in all, the emphasis that Fuqua puts on the DQ will have a positive effect on your MBA experience, both in terms of the atmosphere on campus and in preparing you to succeed in leadership roles.