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Wharton Business School — MBA Program & Application Overview (2023)

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

February 3, 2023

University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School 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 MBA experience.

Class Profile (2024)

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA & San Francisco, CA (EMBA)
  • Class Size: 877
  • Number of Applicants: 6,319
  • Acceptance Rate: ~20%
  • Average Work Experience: 5 years
  • Average GMAT: 733
  • Average GRE: 162 Verbal, 162 Quant
  • Average GPA: 3.6
  • Women: 50%
  • International: 35%
  • LGBTQ+: 8%
  • 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

2022 Application Overview

Wharton Deadlines

Round 1: September 7, 2022

  • Decisions Released: December 15, 2022

Round 2: January 4, 2023

  • Decisions released March 23, 2023

Round 3: March 29, 2023

  • Decisions released May 10, 2023

Deferred: April 26, 2023

  • Decisions released June 29, 2023

GMAT/GRE

Wharton accepts both the GMAT and the GRE with no preference for either.

  • Round 1 - GMAT/GRE test date must fall on or between September 7, 2017, to September 7, 2022.
  • Round 2 - GMAT/GRE test date must fall on or between January 4, 2018, to January 4, 2023
  • Round 3 - GMAT/GRE test date must fall on or between March 29, 2018, to March 29, 2023
  • Deferred Admissions Round - GMAT/GRE test date must fall on or between April 26, 2018, to April 26, 2023.

To read more, click here: GMAT vs. GRE for Business School—Which to Take and How to Ace Both.

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)

Click for more on How to Write a Powerful MBA Essay.

Letters of Recommendation

Wharton Recommender Requirements

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.
  • Letter of Recommendations 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 to learn How to Get the Perfect MBA Recommendation Letter, and here for our free Leland Recommender Prep Template.

Wharton Interviews

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 MBA 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 as a team, you will work together toward a realistic outcome that solves 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. Note that applicants to the Healthcare Management program will have an additional 1:1 interview with the director of the program, so this portion of the interview may run a little longer.

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!

It’s important to always be prepared, click here to learn How to Ace Your MBA Interview: With Prep Questions and Answers and A Guide to the Wharton Interview: The Team-Based Discussion.

Other Application Items

Application Fee

  • Wharton’s MBA program 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.

Background Information

  • In this section, you will put your contact information, date of birth, education, and transcript.
  • For the education section, start from your high school education and include a bachelor’s or bachelor’s-equivalent degree, study abroad, summer school, and/or post-baccalaureate degree.
  • If admitted, you must submit an official transcript from your undergraduate university.
  • Note: You must submit a scanned copy of your transcript. Wharton no longer accepts mailed transcripts.
  • Here, you’ll also add any information about your family information, as well as any prior legal convictions or infractions.

Professional Experience

  • 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.

Wharton Deferred Program

  • The Moelis Advance Access Program is Wharton’s deferred admission program.
  • This program 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.
  • Once admitted, you are considered a Moelis fellow, a selective cohort of students.
  • The first step is applying. Instead of being compared to all MBA 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.

MBA Expert Admissions Coaches on Leland

… and many more! Click here for our full roster of world-class MBA admissions coaches.

Wharton Program Overview

Quick Summary

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 MBA 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.
  • The Wharton MBA curriculum requires 19 credit units (CU) to graduate, the core curriculum has 9.5 CUs, major requirements at 5.0 CUs, and electives at 4.5 CUs.
  • The core curriculum is offered as a quarter or semester-long course which covers traditional management disciplines.
  • 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.
  • The fixed core is 3.25 credit units during the 1st semester while the flexible core is 6.25 credit units in the 1st semester or anytime thereafter.

Fixed Core Courses

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

  • 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. This is to match your learning styles, interests, and goals. Within each different core area, you are also afforded flexibility in content, timing, and format.

Subjects include:

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

Major

To gain deeper expertise in a specific field, students will major in a Concentration. While this varies a bit based on majors, most majors involve 5 CUs, which include 1 core class and 4 higher-level courses. Wharton offers 19 different majors. Because of this, students have varied options and can even double major.

Coursematch

Wharton has a highly sophisticated software called Coursematch. This is the tool used in optimizing class selection for students. At the start of every semester, students enter their wanted courses and assign their preferences. Coursematch will then optimize your preferences given the availability and demand for the requested courses and will provide you with the optimal schedule.

Clubs

Wharton has 120+ clubs in their Graduate Association. Their categories are as follows:

  • Athletics (ranging from Squash, Ski/Snowboarding, Yoga & Wellness, to no contact Ice Hockey)
  • Community Service (e.g., Diversity & Inclusion, Global Impact Consultants, GUIDE, their 1-on-1 mentorship program with MBAs and undergrads)
  • International / Affinity (includes Wharton Africa Student Association, Wharton Asia, Interfaith, Out for Business, an LGBTQIA+ group)
  • Professional (e.g., Wharton Analytics, Entrepreneurship, Future Mobility, PE/VC, and the Wharton Fintech Club - US’ #1 Podcast with more than 1M plays
  • Social / Special Interest (includes Wharton Beauty, Cocktail Club, Dance Studio, and Follies)

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 MBA leadership experience. This is based on the real business world where employees work together in teams structured on persuasive rather than positional leadership. This is your own living laboratory for you to build on your leadership skills.

Cohorts and Clusters

  • During Pre-Tem, 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.
  • Cohorts and Clusters are planned from the beginning of the year to ensure the distribution of gender, nationality, and work experience.

Electives

After gaining knowledge from Wharton’s core curriculum, you can supplement that knowledge with their broad range of 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

International Study Opportunities

Wharton’s MBA 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 to Wharton, you will be immersed in a global community since ⅓ of their students are from outside the US each year.

Global Modular Courses (GMC)

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

Global Immersion Program (GIP)

  • Since its inception in 1993, more than 1,800 Wharton MBA 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, then be able to experience it in-country.

Combined International Studies Degrees

Wharton-INSEAD Alliance

  • This integrated exchange with INSEAD allows Wharton students to explore interests in Europe and Asia. This is through INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, and Singapore.
  • Learn more here: Wharton-INSEAD alliance

Joint Degree Programs

MBA/MA Lauder Joint Degree in International Studies - The Wharton School & Penn School of Arts and Sciences

  • Combines foreign language skills with a passion for international business.

Joint MBA/JD Degree - The Wharton School Penn Law

  • Combines Wharton’s top business school program with The Francis J. & Wm. Polk Carey JD, Penn’s elite law school. This is a unique three-year curriculum that allows students to earn two degrees from the two prestigious schools.

MBA in Health Care Management - The Wharton School

  • Prepares students who have strengths in health economics and a focus on health management.
  • Joint Dental MBA with Wharton and Penn Dental - The Wharton School Penn Dental Medicine
  • Joint Design MBA with Wharton and Penn Stuart Weitzman School of Design - The Wharton School & Penn Stuart Weitzman School of Design
  • Dual Degree Wharton/Education - The Wharton School & Penn Graduate School of Education
  • Wharton MBA for Engineering - The Wharton School & Penn School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • Environmental MBA with Wharton and Penn SAS - The Wharton School & Penn School of Arts and Sciences
  • Dual MBA and Medicine - The Wharton School & Penn Medicine
  • Dual degree Wharton MBA and Nursing - The Wharton School & Penn Nursing
  • Dual degree Wharton MBA and Social Work - The Wharton School & Penn School of Social Policy and Practice
  • Wharton/Veterinary Medicine - The Wharton School & Penn Veterinary Medicine

Wharton Moelis Advance Access

For undergraduate seniors and others without full-time work experience, the Advance Access program at Wharton allows applicants to secure their seats in a future class and then defer for several years. In doing so, students can pursue more risky opportunities—like starting a company, exploring a new industry, or joining a non-profit—without worrying about applying for an MBA years down the road.

See our full deferred enrollment guide for Wharton here: Wharton Moelis Advance Access

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 life will be like as a Wharton MBA student in Philadelphia.

We Are Wharton | MBA Program

Wharton Program Overview

A Quick Campus Tour

Housing

  • Almost all MBA students live in Center City and mostly in Rittenhouse Square - this has a vibrant restaurant and shopping scene with some stunning views of the Philadelphia skyline and the beautiful Rittenhouse park
  • The commute from Rittenhouse Square to Center City is about a 25-30 minute walk or 15-minute bus/trolley to campus which is located in University City.
  • The cost of living depends on the area. Here are some rough estimates of monthly rent by apartment size
    • Studio: $1,695
    • 1 Bedroom: $2,000
    • 2 Bedroom: $2,740
    • 3 Bedroom: $3,840
  • Most students live in large apartment buildings: the most common are 1919 Market, 2116 Chestnut, and The Wannamaker House.
  • Restaurants
    • So many great options are clustered around the City Center.
    • Voyeur hosts the famous White Party event during the Fall semester.

Job Market

  • Campus recruiting/career opportunity weeks focused remaining periods
  • The top two draws of the Wharton MBA are the global network (100k+ alumni) and access to the very best companies that come to campus to recruit MBAs for summer internships and full-time positions.
  • Wharton has made changes to its curriculum to accommodate “Opportunity Weeks.” There are 7-10 day periods where no classes are scheduled to allow students to pursue opportunities on campus.
  • 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.
  • 140 companies are invited to campus to interview students (in-person/ virtual) for upcoming internships. During this period, students can spend their time preparing for these interviews before the school/ academic term kicks off for the Spring. In addition, students interested in Technology, and VC/startup roles normally recruit during the Spring semester.

Culture

  • Wharton’s MBA program is filled with accomplished students who love to have a good time! Their social side shows through the MBA trips that are planned throughout the year.
  • From a learning perspective, everything is structured to be highly relevant. They have a term called pre-professional. This is to describe a Wharton education. The data-driven and application-based learning environment prepare the students well for their career paths.

Meet Wharton Admits & Applicants in Leland’s Free Slack Community

If you’re applying to Wharton, boost your odds by joining the Leland MBA Applicant Community. It’s a free, private community of MBA applicants, admits, and world-class admissions coaches, all here to answer questions, give feedback, share stories, and help each other through the admissions process.

Membership in the Community is by invitation only. To apply, click below.

Wharton FAQs

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

  • Wharton has three rounds of admissions. You may visit the 2022-2023 Application Timeline & Deadlines page to learn more about the dates. They encourage all 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 or PTE). This will be required if you did not come from a school whose main instruction language is English.

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

  • Yes, they do not exclude candidates who have an MBA or any other graduate degree. However, you should fully explain why you are getting a second MBA degree.

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

  • 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 for the MBA program?

  • They typically get 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.

What is the average TOEFL? Do they keep scores submitted in prior years?

  • The average TOEFL score for the Class of 2022 for those required to take it was 115. Wharton keeps TOEFL scores for two years as long as they are still valid. You are also eligible to waive your TOEFL score if you studied at an English-speaking institution.

Can I submit the English for International Opportunity (IELTS) exam results instead of the TOEFL or PTE?

  • No. Since Wharton wants to evaluate all candidates against the same measure. It is worth noting that they also pay careful attention to a student’s GMAT, written and spoken English, your recommender’s observations, and exposure to language, in addition to the GRE.

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.

Does time spent in the military count as work experience?

  • Yes. Being in service provides many rich and varied opportunities for professional growth and development. Military applicants are evaluated on the same criteria as the other candidates.

Does time spent in the peace corps, on a latter-day saint’s mission, or on other voluntary assignments or internships count as work experience?

  • Yes. As with all work experiences, they are interested in the skills that you have acquired on the job and the level of progression which is measured by the scope of responsibilities, job title, salary

Final Note

Leland provides you with the content, community, and coaching that you need to get into your dream MBA program and accomplish other ambitious goals. Sign up today to gain access to additional free resources, community events, small group classes, world-class coaching, and more.