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Cambridge Judge Business School - MBA Admissions Head Interview

LemonEd Insider: Insights from MBA Admissions Directors


The Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge is one of UK's leading business schools. It offers a rigorous, one-year MBA with a distinctive learning style, developing innovative and impactful global leaders.


LemonEd interviewed Emily Brierley, Head of MBA Recruitment and Admissions, to get a better understanding about some of the most commonly asked questions about the Cambridge Judge MBA admissions process.


Photo sourced from the Cambridge Judge Business School website


The Ideal Cambridge Judge MBA Candidate


LemonEd: Can you describe the ideal candidate for your MBA program? What qualities do you look for in applicants?


Cambridge Judge: There is no ideal MBA candidate. Diversity is incredibly important to us at Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS), and we value the different experiences and backgrounds our students come from. This makes for a more fruitful learning experience for students as they learn from a diverse cohort with a wide range of different skills, knowledge, and experiences. There are, however, some qualities that we do look for, to ensure that candidates thrive on the Cambridge MBA. The most important is collaboration. Collaboration isn’t just a buzz word at Cambridge, in-fact, the building itself was built with collaboration in mind. CJBS has an incredibly strong community and collaboration is paramount. Our MBA students do a lot of work in groups on the programme, so we are looking for people who are team players, who want to learn from others, and will bring energy to collaborative learning.


Academic Qualifications Vs. Work Experience


LemonEd: What weight do you give to academic qualifications (e.g. GMAT/GRE score, undergraduate GPA) versus work experience when evaluating candidates?


Cambridge Judge: Applications are reviewed holistically, and we don’t weight any part. We will look at all elements of a candidate’s profile and experience together, to make an informed decision. The Cambridge MBA is an academically rigorous programme and we do need to ensure that candidates are able to manage the demands of the curriculum. If a candidate doesn’t meet the bachelor’s requirement (UK 2:1 or equivalent), then we recommend you work towards a strong GMAT or GRE score to compensate. Something else to consider is programme fit. Students should remember that they are choosing a school, as much as the business school is choosing them. An MBA is a huge investment in time and money, and you need to ensure that you are in the right place for you, in an environment where you will thrive and grow. It is essential that applicants look at the school’s values and ethos, do these align with their own? Speaking to alumni and current students is a great way to find out more about the experience and what it is like to study at a school. If you’re in a position where you can visit the schools you’re applying to, then I strongly recommend doing so.


The Cambridge Judge MBA Essays


LemonEd: How important are essays and personal statements in your decision-making process? What do you look for in these documents?


Cambridge Judge: Applicants should give just as much time to the essays and personal statements as any other part of the application. The essays are important and play an equally important role as work experience and academics do in our holistic review. This is the applicant’s opportunity to show who they are beyond their academics and professional experiences and give admissions committees an insight into their own journey and really ‘jump off the page’. Essentially, the essays and personal statement are where you can tell your story. At Cambridge we ask for a personal statement which focuses on your motivations for pursuing an MBA and post-MBA career goals, and we would expect to see evidence of the steps that applicants are already taking towards their post-MBA objectives - this is particularly important if you are making a pivot. We then have 3 additional smaller essays which require applicants to be more reflective and think about their own experiences and how these have shaped them.


Photos sourced from the Cambridge Judge Business School website


The Cambridge Judge MBA Interviews


LemonEd: What role do interviews play in the admissions process? How do you evaluate candidates during an interview?


Cambridge Judge: Candidates that are successful after the application stage will be invited to interview. The interviews are yet another part of the holistic process and once complete, the feedback will be reviewed alongside the application by the Admissions Committee, to make a final decision. At Cambridge, MBA interviews are conducted by faculty members and last around 30 minutes. We know that this is something the candidates really value and that they enjoy the conversations and discussions they have with faculty. The interviews are designed to gauge a range of different things including the candidate’s academic ability, their motivations for undertaking an MBA, and programme fit. Faculty want to ensure that candidates are choosing the right programme and that the Cambridge MBA is the right place for them to be to flourish and achieve their goals.


The Cambridge Judge MBA Diversity


LemonEd: How important is diversity to your MBA program? What measures do you take to ensure a diverse class?


Cambridge Judge: Diversity is incredibly important to us at CJBS and something we are constantly working towards. A diverse and global cohort makes for a richer learning experience for our students, and typically about 90% of our class comes from overseas. I am also delighted to say that female representation for the 2022/23 class is 47%. We partner with different organisations to foster diversity, including the Forte Foundation and Reaching out Network, and offer Fellowships in collaboration with them both. Our range of scholarships includes funding for women, the LGBTQIA+ community, and we have our own ‘Wider Cambridge’ scholarships that focus on both professional and regional diversity. All these scholarships are 50% of the tuition fees. We create a cohort which is highly diverse in terms of nationality but also work experience, to mimic the real world of business, and bring students face to face with varied views and perspectives and provide opportunities to work with people from international cultures and different backgrounds.


Changing Careers


LemonEd: How do you evaluate applicants who are transitioning to a new field or career? What qualities do you look for in these candidates?


Cambridge Judge: A lot of our students use the Cambridge MBA to transition into a new industry or function, and this is where the personal statement in the application is really important. For those that are looking to pivot it is essential that they start doing their research as early as possible and we look for evidence of this in their career’s objectives. We want to see that applicants have thought out their MBA plans, rationalised their need for an MBA, and are aware of what they need to do to make the transition. This is also something that will be gauged in the interviews. We always recommend that candidates be open-minded. An MBA is a transformative experience and whilst students may start the programme with a goal in mind, there are lots of opportunities for them to take advantage of. It’s common for students to enter with one objective and then leave the programme in a completely different direction.


Check out the Cambridge Judge Business School website for more details.

 

The Cambridge Judge Full-Time MBA Fact Card* (Class Profile of 2022)


Total Students - 210

Average Age - 29 years

Average Work Experience - 6 years

Average Undergrad GPA - N/A

Average GMAT - 690


Average Package Salary* - £92,501 (Class of 2021/2022)

Employment Rate* (within 3 months of graduation) - 94% (Class of 2021/2022)


*Data sourced from the Cambridge Judge Business School website on 19 June 2023

 

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