Fuqua School of Business is one of the top business schools in the US. ARINGO conducted a short interview with Jessica Brown, Associate Director of Admissions at Fuqua School of Business to learn more about the school and its MBA program:

Q: What is special about your MBA program? In addition to its excellent reputation, what differentiates it from other Top MBA programs?
A: Many MBA programs have great faculty, strong academics and a robust alumni network. The same can be said for Duke Fuqua as well. However, I truly believe that Team Fuqua, our culture and our community is what make us different. It’s not just about what you do as a student in an academic setting, it’s about the relationships you develop, the network you create and the opportunities you take advantage of during your time as a student. Our students don’t come just to Duke Fuqua for an MBA, they come to be a part of our culture and that’s what makes our program special.


Q: Are there any recent changes in the programs or in the admission process?
A: COVID-19 has altered how we operate as a program and how we’re able to connect with candidates.  We’re now hosting more events in a virtual setting so that we can stay connected to admitted students and we’re working closely with administration to best prepare delivery of the Fall term. We have also added a few courses to our Global Institute that the incoming class will get to experience as part of the Daytime curriculum.


Q: Has the COVID-19 situation have an impact on the programs at your school? Is there any other impact candidates should be aware of?

A: We are very fortunate to have some of the best healthcare professionals in the world guiding our decisions on the university level. Duke took immediate steps to ensure we are doing everything possible to minimize the health and safety risks to students, faculty, staff and the wider community in response to COVID-19. Our top priority is the safety of our students, staff, and faculty. We have moved all of our events online, and have a variety of ways for prospective students to connect with our Admissions office, students, and alumni. As students return to campus this Fall, we will continue to monitor public health conditions closely and follow social distancing practices as necessary, to ensure the health and safety of all.


Q: Can you share some details about the atmosphere in the school? Amongst the students? Between students and faculty? How do students spend their free time?

A: We have a very collaborative culture at Fuqua. We are partner and family friendly, and have a very diverse student population with almost 40% of our students being international.  We have a strong sense of camaraderie that is paired with an expectation of high level academic performance. Our students understand that their peers will motivate and push them to be successful in every avenue of the MBA experience and beyond.

The Fuqua faculty are well connected with our students as they want them to succeed both inside and outside the classroom. They are experts in their respective fields of academia, sharing their research and inviting global and industry business leaders as guest speakers in their classes. There is established trust and respect shared between faculty and students, which also translates to experiences outside of the classroom. During the academic year, there are a number of activities and events, such as Fuqua Friday, are attended and supported by all members of the Fuqua community.

At Fuqua we have over 50 student organizations and our students are actively involved in our community. These organizations encompass a variety of activities comprising professional, social and cultural interests. In addition to serving within the Fuqua community, our students are very engaged within Durham communities as well. Duke Fuqua has established a number of partnerships with local companies and non-profit organizations that allows current students volunteer and serve in various capacities throughout the city.


Q: Can you share some details about the area the school is located in?

A: Durham, North Carolina is a diverse Southern city with a mix of many cultural influences. With a population of about 275,000 people, there is much to experience in our city! Durham, also known as the “Bull City” has a thriving foodie scene, ample outdoor trails to walk on, a variety of performances and athletic events. There are a plethora of volunteer opportunities and many family friendly festivals and activities to attend. Durham is also easily accessible to the rest of the world with our international airport, conveniently located approximately 25 minutes from campus.


Q: Can you share some details regarding job opportunities and summer internships for students in your school?

A: First year students work directly with the Career Management Center to actively recruit for their summer internship or job after completing their degree. This past year, students were hired by 59 different companies with the top 4 industries being financial services, consulting, healthcare, and marketing.


Q: What is it that you are looking for in a candidate? Who will especially enjoy this school? Who will be a good fit to the school?

A: The ideal Duke Fuqua is someone that understands the value and importance of team work. This person is someone that embraces a well-rounded skill set, understands the value of working with others, and is willing to step out of their comfort zone to challenge themselves and others to become better. We are looking for candidates that understand the value of an MBA, has clearly defined career goals and appreciates the value of diversity. Successful candidates will also demonstrate traits of intelligence, empathy, and decency.


Q: What is the most important piece of advice for an applicant based on your experience?

A: Know your story! The admissions committee wants to know why you would be a value add to their program. As such, you should be ready to speak of past experiences, desired areas of growth and how you do desire to make an impact. You should be able to articulate why you want to pursue an MBA and why this is the best time to do so. You also need to be able highlight why a particular program will be a good fit for you, and how the program will benefit from having you as a student.


Q:  What NOT to do in the admissions process?

A: Do not rush the process! Take the time to do research on various programs and be able to identify the traits that you desire your MBA program to have. It’s incredibly important that you understand the various aspects of the program in order to determine if the program will be a good fit. This includes talking with current students and alumni, attending school sponsored events and connecting with members of the admissions team. Additionally, take the time to craft a competitive application for admission. No two applications are alike, therefore you should approach the application process for each school differently. For example, don’t write essays that are generic — be sure to personalize your essays based upon the questions asked in the application.


Q: Are later rounds worth considering?

A: Applicants are welcome to apply in any round, but we strongly encourage that international applicants apply no later than Round 2 to allow time for visa processing.


Q: GMAT and importance as a % of the candidacy? What is the minimum GMAT you are looking for?

A: We have no minimum GMAT score! We publish the middle 80% range on our website.


Q: Is there anything you’d like our candidates to know regarding the admissions process?

A: It is important to note that the application process is holistic and all parts are weighted evenly.


Q: Can you tell us more about funding – scholarship/fellowship options in your school?

A: All applicants that are admitted into the business school are automatically reviewed for merit-based scholarships–there is no separate application for it. All scholarships for the program will be offered at the time of admission to competitive candidates.


Q: Can you share some information about partners who are joining the student- Employment options for him/her? What are the visa requirements?

A: We have a robust club on campus called Fuqua Partners that works to support partners of students in the program, and provide resources to address the needs of Fuqua families. The Career Management Center also extends to provide counseling services to partners that are eligible to work in the US.