The Wharton School — MBA Program & Application Overview (2024)

Perfect your MBA Application with this guide curated by the best MBA admissions coaches in the world on how to navigate the application process and get into the Wharton MBA program.

Posted March 12, 2024

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The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania is one of the most prestigious business schools in the nation and boasts world-class faculty members with a rich history. Wharton Business School has created a living network of ideas and people from diverse backgrounds and roots in businesses, non-profit organizations, and governments worldwide.

Wharton’s MBA Program offers intensive but flexible core courses in business management. With 19 majors and nearly 200 electives, you can effectively create your own program by choosing your own subjects centered around the core subjects. Wharton also places a premium on teamwork; admitted students will find themselves on a large number of collaborative teams during their academic experience.

Class Profile (Class of 2025)

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Class Size: 874
  • Number of Applicants: 6,194
  • Acceptance Rate: 14%
  • Average Work Experience: 5 years
  • Average GMAT: 728
  • Average GRE: 162 Verbal, 162 Quant
  • Average GPA: 3.6
  • Women: 50%
  • International: 31%
  • LGBTQ+: 11%
  • First-Generation: 11%

"Wharton MBAs reap the benefits of engagement within our diverse community, leading to innovative ideas and solutions for the world’s next problem in business."

Wharton Admissions

2023-2024 Application Overview

Wharton Deadlines

RoundDeadline
Round 1September 6, 2023
Round 2January 4, 2024
Round 3April 2, 2024
DeferredApril 24, 2024

See more info on the recently released deadlines here: Wharton MBA Application Deadlines (2023-2024)

GMAT/GRE

Wharton accepts both the GMAT and the GRE with no preference for either. International students who have not completed a degree at an institution where English is the language of instruction must also submit a TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS score.

  • Round 1 - Test date must fall on or between September 6, 2018 (2021 for TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS), to September 6, 2023.
  • Round 2 - Test date must fall on or between January 4, 2019 (2022 for TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS), to January 4, 2024
  • Round 3 - Test date must fall on or between April 2, 2019 (2022 for TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS), to April 2, 2024
  • Deferred Admissions Round - Test date must fall on or between April 24, 2019 (2022 for TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS), to April 24, 2024.

Wharton Essays

Wharton uses its essays to get to know you on a professional and personal level. You should be introspective, candid, succinct, and most importantly, yourself. Both essays are mandatory and the prompts are as follows:

Essay 1: How do you plan to use the Wharton MBA program to help you achieve your future professional goals? You might consider your past experience, short and long-term goals, and resources available at Wharton. (500 words) Essay 2: Taking into consideration your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community? (400 words)

Reapplicants must submit an additional essay:

Please use this space to share with the Admissions Committee how you have reflected and grown since your previous application and discuss any relevant updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, and extracurricular/volunteer engagements). (250 words)

Letters of Recommendation

Wharton requires two letters of recommendation from people well acquainted with your work performance, preferably from a current or former supervisor.

  • Find people who know your aptitude and capabilities. It is important that your recommendations come from someone familiar with you and your work style.
  • Letters of Recommendation are split into two sections:
    • The first is a selection of positive personality characteristics. Your recommenders will be asked to choose three characteristics from a list of ten that best describe you.
    • The second is composed of two free-form questions: Question 1: Please provide example(s) that illustrate why you believe this candidate will contribute meaningfully to the Wharton MBA community. (300 words) and Question 2: Please provide example(s) that illustrate why you believe this candidate will find success throughout their career. (300 words)

Click here for our free Leland Recommender Prep Template.

Interview

Once you’ve submitted your application, you may be invited for an interview. An interview is a strong indicator of interest from the school, but of course, it’s not a guarantee of admission.

Interviews for the Wharton MBA program are by invitation only. If you are invited, you will participate in Wharton’s Team-Based Discussion (TBD).

  • The TBD is a 35-minute exercise that gives you the opportunity to interact with 4-5 randomly selected fellow MBA applicants in a team environment. You will be provided with a prompt and a purpose and work together as a team to solve the prompt. You’ll then present your team’s outcome to the admissions committee.
  • The TBD exercise is designed to model the highly collaborative nature of the Wharton MBA environment. The Admissions team will use this to identify characteristics such as communication style, level of engagement, leadership skills, and decision-making process. Take this as an opportunity to introduce yourself and show how you collaborate with a functioning team.
  • After the TBD, you will participate in a one-on-one 10-minute interview with a member of the admissions team. You will talk about your interest in Wharton and how the school fits into your goals.

Some tips to remember during the interview are to showcase your personal skills and strengths, your adaptability in terms of working with groups, be yourself, and of course, relax! You were invited to interview for a reason!

Background Information & Transcripts

  • In this section, you will put your contact information, date of birth, education, and transcript.
  • You must upload an unofficial copy of your transcript or use Wharton’s Online Transcript Template
  • Here, you’ll also add any information about your family information, as well as any prior legal convictions or infractions.
  • Input your full-time work experience starting with your most recent position. You may also include any significant part-time or summer employment since the beginning of your undergraduate studies.
  • This section allows you to write down your 4 most recent places of employment. You may use the optional essay segment to explain any gaps in your employment.
  • Note: The admissions committee can see your Reason for Leaving inputs even when it is not visible in the PDF.

Resume

  • You will also have to upload a one-page resume demonstrating your skills and experiences.
  • Make sure your resume is uploaded in a PDF format less than 10 MB in size.

Application Fee

  • Wharton’s application has a non-refundable application fee of $275.
  • If you are applying for Wharton’s deferred program, you will pay a reduced fee of $100.

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Wharton Executive MBA Program

The Executive MBA (EMBA) program is designed for students who are further along in their professional journeys. EMBA students may choose to enroll in the Global cohort for virtual classes or in the San Francisco or Philadelphia cohorts. EMBA students participate in a one-week international trip known as the Global Business Week and Global Modular Courses, which are mandatory for Global cohort members and optional for San Francisco and Philadelphia cohort members. The EMBA program has higher standards for admission since it is aimed at seasoned professionals, with at least eight years of work experience and five years of managerial experience required to apply and the option to take the Executive Assessment rather than the GMAT or GRE.

The Wharton San Francisco campus is located in the SoMa (South of Market district), but students in the San Francisco and Philadelphia campuses interact throughout their programs. Both cohorts begin their programs together in Philadelphia, attend a six-day session at the San Francisco campus at the end of the first year, and may attend Global Business Weeks together.

Wharton Deferred Program

  • The Moelis Advance Access Program is Wharton’s deferred admission program, which is offered to both undergraduate and graduate students in their final year of study. It is a guaranteed spot in the full-time MBA program after two to four years of work experience.
  • Instead of being compared to all applicants, you will only be evaluated relative to those applying for this program.
    • Once admitted, you will have time to get two to four years of experience. During this period, Wharton encourages you to take risks. You may start your own company, work for a nonprofit, or pursue global externships while working in traditional business industries.
    • During your deferral period, you will have access to a network of Wharton scholars, as well as online communities, emails, invitations to student conferences, access to admitted student programming, and Wharton alumni mentorship (both personal and professional).
    • After your deferral period, you may start your MBA program.
  • There are a host of events for the Moelis cohort including social, learning, and professional events.
  • Students are also able to connect with other deferral admits across years in their Workplace platform. This is particularly helpful as you navigate your career. There are multiple groups based on your professional, regional, and personal interests.

For more information about the various programs and access to upcoming events, check out Wharton’s admissions page.

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Wharton MBA Program Overview

If you’re applying to Wharton, you should have a good idea of what you’re getting into. Here’s a quick summary of Wharton’s MBA curriculum, including the kind of courses, clubs, and team-building exercises you can expect.

  • Wharton’s curriculum has a unique structure that is rigorous and flexible. Their intensive, cross-functional core curriculum teaches business fundamentals and leadership, communication, and analytical skills which are critical for success. You will develop one or more expertises by selecting a major and complementary electives.
  • There are six required fixed core classes, along with your choices in the flexible core. This flexibility allows you to take more electives in your first year; you can prepare for an internship, global experience, business venture, or other interests. You can also defer some core requirements to your second year.

Fixed Core Courses

These are the typical classes you take in a business school, consisting of the fundamentals and analytical courses that serve as the foundation for your education.

  • Leadership: Foundations of Teamwork and Leadership
  • Marketing: Marketing Management
  • Microeconomics: Microeconomics for Managers
  • Microeconomics: Advanced Microeconomics for Managers
  • Statistics: Regression Analysis for Managers
  • Management Communication: Speaking and Writing

Flexible Core Courses

More than half of the core courses are flexible, meaning you can take your pick based on your needs to match your learning styles, interests, and goals.

Subjects include:

  • Operations, Information, and Decisions
  • Marketing
  • Communication
  • Accounting
  • Corporate Finance
  • Macroeconomics
  • Management
  • Legal Studies & Business Ethics

Majors

To gain deeper expertise in a specific field, students will major in one or two of the 21 available concentrations, most consisting of five course units (one core curriculum and four additional units).

Majors Offered:

  • Accounting
  • Business Analytics
  • Business Economics and Public Policy
  • Business, Energy, Environment and Sustainability
  • Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
  • Entrepreneurship & Innovation
  • Environmental, Social & Governance Factors for Business
  • Finance
  • Healthcare Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Marketing and Operations (joint major)
  • Multinational Management
  • Operations, Information and Decisions
  • Organizational Effectiveness
  • Quantitative Finance
  • Real Estate
  • Social and Governance Factors for Business
  • Statistics
  • Strategic Management
  • Individualized Major (created by individual students upon approval of an academic advisor)

Electives

Wharton offers nearly 200 elective courses across 11 academic departments. Some electives will count towards your major, but you will have the flexibility to take some chances and explore new topics.

The 11 academic departments are:

  • Accounting
  • Business Economics and Public Policy
  • Communication Program
  • Finance
  • Health Care Management
  • Legal Studies and Business Ethics
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Operations, Information, and Decisions
  • Real Estate
  • Statistics

Find Wharton’s entire course library here: Wharton MBA Course List

MBA Leadership Ventures & Experiential Learning

The McNulty Leadership Program at Wharton offers one of the largest sets of options to strengthen your leadership style by studying and building on your strengths. You’ll be part of a diverse team with whom you’ll attend classes together, work on projects together, and grow as leaders together.

Learning Teams

The Learning Team model, which was first developed by Wharton and emulated by other business schools, is the center of Wharton’s leadership experience. This is based on the real business world where employees work together in teams structured on persuasive rather than positional leadership.

Cohorts and Clusters

During Pre-Term (Wharton's orientation experience), all Wharton full-time MBA students will be divided into a Cohort of 70 students (this includes your Learning Team) and a Cluster of about 210. You will attend your fixed courses together and bond with a diverse group of fellow students.

International Study Opportunities

Wharton’s students get global perspectives and skills from their classmates, classes, learning opportunities in the international business environment, and a cross-cultural curriculum that encourages collaboration. Once admitted, you will be immersed in a global community since about one third of the student body are international students each year.

Global Modular Courses (GMC)

  • This is a short, full-credit course in an intensive workshop format focused on a business challenge or opportunity in a country relevant to the topic. Since 2012, participating countries have included Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa, and the United Kingdom.

Global Immersion Program (GIP)

  • Since its inception in 1993, more than 1,800 students have participated in this elective. In this course, you will get a high-level survey of the economic, cultural, and geopolitical drivers behind regions necessary in the global economy in on-campus sessions, then participate in an international study tour and prepare a final deliverable.

Wharton-INSEAD Alliance

  • This integrated exchange with INSEAD, an international business school, allows students to explore interests in Europe and Asia through classes in Fontainebleau, France or Singapore.

Joint Degree Programs

With 13 different dual degree and interdisciplinary programs offered in partnership with other schools at the University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton School offers several opportunities for diversifying your business education.

The Francis J. & Wm. Polk Carey JD/MBA

The Carey JD/MBA program offered in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania Law School is one of the most prestigious JD/MBA programs in the nation, with just 15 to 20 students accepted each year. This three-year dual degree program prepares students for careers in the intersection of business and law. In the final year of the Carey JD/MBA program, students will complete a capstone course tracking a company through start-up structuring or initial capital raise, exit or mergers and acquisitions, and restructuring. Applicants to the Carey JD/MBA program should apply through the Law School Admission Council and have the option to apply through its early decision program.

MBA/MA Lauder Joint Degree in International Studies

Offered by the Lauder Institute of Management and International Studies, this program combines foreign language study with a business education focused on intercultural leadership, preparing students for careers in international or foreign business. The Lauder Institute requires students to complete global immersions and a language requirement throughout their studies, as well as a capstone project.

MBA in Health Care Management

One of the most popular dual degree programs at Wharton, this two-year interdisciplinary program is designed for students who have strengths in health economics and a focus on health management. Unlike other majors, this major places a stronger emphasis on academic and professional development, helping students land summer and permanent roles in healthcare, and students must choose this major when applying.

Other Joint Degree Programs Offered

  • Joint Dental MBA (MBA/DMD) with Penn Dental
  • Joint Design MBA (MBA/MArch, MBA/MLA, MBA/MCP, MBA/MH, or MUSA) with Penn Stuart Weitzman School of Design
  • Dual Degree Wharton/Education (MBA/MSEd in Education Entrepreneurship or Education Policy) with Penn Graduate School of Education
  • Wharton MBA for Engineering (MBA/MSE, MBA/MCIT, MBA/MIPD, or DATS) with Penn School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • Environmental MBA (MBA/MES) with Penn School of Arts & Sciences
  • Dual MBA and Medicine (MBA/MD) with Penn Medicine
  • Dual Degree Wharton MBA and Nursing (MBA/MSN or MBA/PhD) with Penn Nursing
  • Dual Degree Wharton MBA and Social Work (MBA/MSW) with Penn School of Social Policy and Practice
  • Wharton/Veterinary Medicine (MBA/VMD or MBA/MS) with Penn Veterinary Medicine

Partnerships with Other Institutions

  • Wharton and School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Dual Degree (MAIR/MBA)
    • Offered in partnership with the SAIS of Johns Hopkins University in Washington, D.C., this program combines a business education on international trade and economics with the foreign policy and international politics focus of an international studies degree.
    • Students will spend their first year and first semester of their third year on Wharton’s campus focusing on business education and their second year and last semester of their third year at the SAIS campus focusing on international studies.
  • Wharton and Harvard Kennedy School Dual Degrees (MPA/MBA, MPA/ID/MBA, and MPP/MBA)
    • For students passionate about solving public problems affecting both the public and private sectors, the programs offered with the Harvard Kennedy School can help them develop quantitative skills and intellectual leadership experience.
    • Students spend their first year and second semester of their second year at Wharton to build their business education and the first semester of their second year and their third year at the Harvard Kennedy School learning about public policy or administration.

Wharton Experience

Every business school has its own quirks based on location and the local community. For anyone who isn’t able to experience the city for themselves before committing, or is interested in learning more, here’s an in-depth look at what student life is like at Wharton.

We Are Wharton | MBA Program

Wharton Program Overview

Professional Opportunities

  • The top two draws of Wharton’s programs are the global network (100k+ alumni) and access to the very best companies that come to campus to recruit students for summer internships and full-time positions.
  • Companies from various industries come to campus. Predominantly in Consulting, Investment Banking, Private Equity, CPG/Retail, Health care, Investment Management, Manufacturing, Venture Capital, and other professional services and financial services.
  • Opportunities to connect with employers throughout the school year include coffee chats, on-campus interviews, the Second Year Networking Expo, Employer Information Sessions, career treks, and student organization events

Wharton FAQs

When should I apply, and when is the application deadline?

  • Wharton has three rounds of admissions. You may visit the 2023-2024 Application Timeline & Deadlines page to learn more about the dates, which may differ if you are applying to other programs such as a dual degree program. They encourage all full-time applicants to apply in the year preceding their start at Wharton since they do not grant deferrals.

What are the minimum requirements to apply to the Wharton MBA program?

  • The minimum requirements are the completion of an undergraduate program in an accredited US college or any equivalent program, the results of either the GMAT or the GRE, submission of their Wharton application, and if applicable, the results of an English Language Test (TOEFL PTE, or IELTS).

I already have an MBA, can I apply to the Wharton program?

  • Yes, they do not exclude candidates who have a graduate degree. However, you should fully explain why you are choosing to pursue a second MBA degree.

I earned an undergraduate degree that only took three years. Am I eligible to apply?

  • Yes. If you have received a Bachelor’s degree upon completion of a three-year undergraduate program, you are eligible to apply.

How many applications does Wharton receive each year?

  • The full-time program typically gets around 6,000 to 7,000 applications each year. Approximately 75% to 80% of all applicants are qualified. Of these, they admit about 1,000 candidates for a class of about 840 students.

Do I need an interview, and if so, how can I arrange one?

  • Yes. Wharton only does interviews by invitation. Once they review your application, they select candidates for interviews. No candidate is admitted without an interview.

Can I get my decision over the web or by email, telephone or fax?

  • No. All applicants receive their decision letters by their online Wharton account. They do not release decisions over the phone, email, or fax. If admitted, you will also receive more information, along with the hard copy of your admissions letter, via regular mail.

How long does it typically take to receive a decision after he/she has submitted his/her application?

  • If you are invited over for an interview, you will be notified by email. The interview invitation will include a link to schedule an interview and the resources you will need to prepare for the interview.

How does Wharton notify applicants of their status?

  • Applicants who will not be moving forward will also be notified at the same time as those who were invited to interview. If you are admitted after your interview, you will also be notified of their announcement dates. If you were not able to make it the first time, you are still encouraged to apply to the next round.

What should I know about the GMAT and the GRE?

  • Since both the GMAT and the GRE are computer adaptive tests that are available all year round, you should register for the test one month before your plan to take it. Since it is required to take either of the tests, Wharton recommends you to take your test no later than 2 weeks prior to the application deadline. This is to ensure that you will be able to submit your application with all your scores.

Are application fee waivers available?

  • Yes. The application fee waiver is given to students for whom the fee would create an extreme financial hardship or for the US military active duty or veteran applicants.

How much work experience do most accepted students have? Is there a particular type of work experience Wharton seeks?

  • The average student has worked for five to six years between graduating from college and entering the MBA program. Although, the program does accept early career candidates who can exhibit strong managerial and professional potential. They look not for how long you have worked but the depth and breadth of the individual’s position, his or her contributions to his or her role, and the level of responsibility and progression.

Does graduate education count as work experience?

  • No, Wharton does not count academic work as professional work experience.

Here are a few other articles you may find helpful as you apply to business schools:

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