Why Apply to Yale SOM? A Conversation with the MBA Admissions Head

At Menlo Coaching, we’re fans of the Yale School of Management. Our co-founder, David White, sat down with Bruce DelMonico, the business school’s Assistant Dean of Admissions to talk about…

In this interview, Bruce and David discuss the Yale SOM application and the admissions process. You can watch more from Bruce and David, with videos covering the Yale SOM’s MBA Curriculum and Yale SOM Employment Reports.

Ready to start your application? Check out Yale SOM’s application guide.

Yale SOM Admissions and Diversity

Because of the way some of its curriculum is structured, Yale SOM tends to admit a class of students that tend to have broader and more varied intellectual tastes than the average MBA program. For the Yale SOM admissions department, there is a great deal of emphasis placed on diversity in their accepted applicant pool. This is not simply the diversity that might come from belonging to a particular group or having a particular status, but a diversity of ideas and interests.

A penchant for rigorous critical thinking and being intellectually curious are two of the most important factors in how the admissions team singles out applicants for acceptance. DelMonico is clear that “it’s not just about an affinity group. It’s not just about what your formal background is academically or professionally, but really about how you think.” This quality feeds into one of Yale’s classroom goals: to question and think about the material in such a way that you don’t just absorb knowledge but make it your own by applying it to your own life and experiences. 

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Who Should Be Submitting A Yale SOM Application?

Obviously, if you are reading this, you have at least some passing curiosity about preparing a Yale SOM application, but it’s important to consider what kinds of applicants the school is looking for. There are some obvious candidates; you should consider Yale SOM if you are interested in going into banking, non-profit, or seeking a dual-degree. But Yale SOM does think of itself as a general management school where you will be well positioned and prepared to go into any field, industry and sector. 

Also of interest for potential Yale SOM applicants is the Forestry School, a joint degree with the law school, medical school, and school of public health, as well as the strength of Yale’s marketing program, which includes the Yale Center for Customer Insights (YCCI). The YCCI includes discovery projects where you can engage in experiential learning by working on live projects for organizations including Apple, Google, IBM, and Pepsi alongside Yale faculty. 

Entrepreneurship at Yale SOM

Yale SOM has shown recent growth in its technology and entrepreneurship portfolios. A lot of this is due to tech entrepreneur and Associate Dean, Kyle Jensen. Jensen has three MIT degrees (B.S., M.S., and Ph.D.) and an impressive entrepreneurial portfolio that includes biotech and data analytics companies. He is also closely connected to the Yale SOM Center for Innovation and Technology (Tsai CITY), endowed by Alibaba executive vice chairman, Joe Tsai. 

That said, DelMonico is careful to say that Yale doesn’t support or encourage pie-in-the-sky entrepreneurship. Pointing out that the school is one that expects level-headed thinking and real results from its MBAs, Bruce DelMonico jovially asks, “where’s the beef at? […] What have you done? Do you have a product? Have you gone to market? Do you have customers? Do you have suppliers? Is there cash flow? Do you have any employees? What stage are you at in the process?” Yale SOM applicants should consider entrepreneurship as a focus if they don’t believe that their portfolio will magically come together because they attend Yale.

To be a realistic candidate interested in entrepreneurship at Yale, it helps to have a venture that is already somewhat developed and further down the line. Current entrepreneurs at Yale typically get their business partner or a group of trusted individuals to run the business while they’re at Yale, and they then come back to their venture after graduating. Some have even been able to successfully run their venture alongside their MBA coursework and commitments.

The Yale SOM Application Process

If you are at all familiar with the Yale School of Management, you are probably dreading the video portion of the application process. If you are not, Yale asks three video questions, each of which are written by a different branch of the school. A pre-recorded video of the question is asked from your laptop screen, and you are given 20-30 seconds to think of a response. Then, the green light comes on, and you will be asked to talk for either 60 or 90 seconds in response to the prompt. Many people are absolutely terrified by this. 

The good news is that, according to DelMonico, Yale SOM does not lean very heavily on the video questions. At the core, he encourages you to relax, confident that you have done better than you think you’ve done. Essentially, the video questions function as an additional datapoint for the admissions team to examine as part of the application, rather than having it serve as a make or break moment of disqualification. In general, Yale SOM uses the video essay as an opportunity for an applicant to give more insight or some points in their favor and not as a chance to disqualify someone who they otherwise would have interviewed. If you take the video questions seriously, show yourself to be relaxed and not obviously attempting to shoehorn in a pre-memorized statement, and remember that they won’t outweigh your experience or academic record, you should be fine.