6/28/09

How is UVa's Darden MBA program perceived on the Street? Is it a target? They have lots of kids with run of the mill backgrounds and an acceptance rate hovering around 25-30%. On the flip side, UVa's brand is strong and they have a very rigorous curriculum.

Comments (42)

6/28/09

Darden is considered a very strong program (more of a case study method of teaching similar to that of Harvard) all over, although not still on the same level as the top 5-10s. It is most likely a semi-target to a target, since although most of the top firms recruit there (at least for one position or another), the representation (number, not quality) of the students at those top firms isn't as strong. Many people think it is absolutely a rising star, and if you are interested in the program, you won't go wrong - it also has a strong alumni network (which cannot be overvalued).

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6/28/09

Darden is defintely a semitarget to target for many large firms. If you can get into one of their student investment funds that would be helpful from a knowledge and recruiting standpoint. That said, UVA doesn't have the sort of superstar finance faculty you'll find at MIT Sloan, Chicago or Wharton. Those three are probably the best finance departments, followed by Columbia, NYU and Stanford. Unless you take PhD classes though, faculty rep is a secondary concern. I would guess the network is stronger at Darden than some of the schools above, which (except for Stanford) are vastly over-represented on the Street.

4/1/10

Moderate at best.

I'm currently a 2nd year student at Darden (graduating 2010). Before any of my classmates get all excited, let me preface this by saying there are many pros to the darden experience. Unfortunately, I have found them to be massively overweighed by the cons. Also, I'd like to mention at the beginning that of course most of my classmates and students at other schools will give positive reviews for the lone reason that brand value is SO important at MBA school (probably more important than what you learn), so most students feel they MUST give a positive review in order to increase (albeit ever so insignificantly) the brand value of their school on the internet, etc.

Below, I'll give a quick, and very honest*, overview of the major pros and cons:

PROS:
1) Professors: professors are good, they're smart, funny, and interactive. They may not be world reknown, but I'm here to learn, not get autographs.

2) UVA: the campus is beautiful, the weather is great, the student body is picturesque and ever so quaint.

CONS:

1) Job Placement: this is the killer. although I feel our curriculum is the same as most top tier schools and our professors are as good if not better, year after year we get housed when it comes to job placement. Just to throw out a few names, Duke, UNC, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, and even Georgetown often dominate top financial and consulting recruiting stats. Don't get too excited by the stats you see on school websites, they're all artificially manipulated in one way or another. Go to the schools, and randomly ask where students are going to work (and when they got their job), you will find many Darden students who simply answer with a tear. Why? maybe because of #2...

2) Students: DON'T GET ME WRONG I LOVE MY CLASSMATES, they are funny, for the most part kind, and very supportive. The problem I see is Darden gets a lot of students who were simply average in their field or great in average fields. The worst problem is the abundance of overseas students who can barely spell the word "derivative", let alone calculate the present value of one. I'm not saying I'm the next Donald Trump, but at least I can hold my own when it comes to basic algebra. Professors have to stop class numerous times to explain simple mathematical concepts, and let's just say you will be beating your head against the wall if one or two members of your learning team have a hard time with accounting (the EASIEST subject in the history of business).

3) ADMINISTRATION: no darden student will disagree with me here. the administration is in shambles. Admissions is a nightmare...have you tried to use their new IT system? Career services if full of a bunch of people who really couldn't make it in the business world, hence they are working for around 40 G's a year, and are trying to help students find jobs paying over 100. It just doesn't make sense.

4) The program: In general, the darden program is more busy work (reading far too many case studies for the time given, where a case study is never given it's due time in analysis and debate) and GAMES than any real learning. After two years, I don't really feel like I have a specialty in any useful subject, a I think most analytical ability is just natural, not forced upon you by reading 4 case studies per day for 2 years. The A-E sections, mascots, sports competitions, and other events are all good fun, but sometimes I feel like I'm in MBA kindergarten. If you put 90% of the students in a situation where they'd have to use real knowledge and skills to help build a country's infrastructure and economy, they'd fail miserably. They only know how to "gamble" on the economy a bit better, and sound smart in meetings.

There you have it. That's the real story. Take it for what it is. You'll never read a more honest assessment of a student's own school.

gpa: 3.2
gmat: 660

4/2/10
bollywoodmba:

Moderate at best.

I'm currently a 2nd year student at Darden (graduating 2010). Before any of my classmates get all excited, let me preface this by saying there are many pros to the darden experience. Unfortunately, I have found them to be massively overweighed by the cons. Also, I'd like to mention at the beginning that of course most of my classmates and students at other schools will give positive reviews for the lone reason that brand value is SO important at MBA school (probably more important than what you learn), so most students feel they MUST give a positive review in order to increase (albeit ever so insignificantly) the brand value of their school on the internet, etc.

Below, I'll give a quick, and very honest*, overview of the major pros and cons:

PROS:
1) Professors: professors are good, they're smart, funny, and interactive. They may not be world reknown, but I'm here to learn, not get autographs.

2) UVA: the campus is beautiful, the weather is great, the student body is picturesque and ever so quaint.

CONS:

1) Job Placement: this is the killer. although I feel our curriculum is the same as most top tier schools and our professors are as good if not better, year after year we get housed when it comes to job placement. Just to throw out a few names, Duke, UNC, Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, and even Georgetown often dominate top financial and consulting recruiting stats. Don't get too excited by the stats you see on school websites, they're all artificially manipulated in one way or another. Go to the schools, and randomly ask where students are going to work (and when they got their job), you will find many Darden students who simply answer with a tear. Why? maybe because of #2...

2) Students: DON'T GET ME WRONG I LOVE MY CLASSMATES, they are funny, for the most part kind, and very supportive. The problem I see is Darden gets a lot of students who were simply average in their field or great in average fields. The worst problem is the abundance of overseas students who can barely spell the word "derivative", let alone calculate the present value of one. I'm not saying I'm the next Donald Trump, but at least I can hold my own when it comes to basic algebra. Professors have to stop class numerous times to explain simple mathematical concepts, and let's just say you will be beating your head against the wall if one or two members of your learning team have a hard time with accounting (the EASIEST subject in the history of business).

3) ADMINISTRATION: no darden student will disagree with me here. the administration is in shambles. Admissions is a nightmare...have you tried to use their new IT system? Career services if full of a bunch of people who really couldn't make it in the business world, hence they are working for around 40 G's a year, and are trying to help students find jobs paying over 100. It just doesn't make sense.

4) The program: In general, the darden program is more busy work (reading far too many case studies for the time given, where a case study is never given it's due time in analysis and debate) and GAMES than any real learning. After two years, I don't really feel like I have a specialty in any useful subject, a I think most analytical ability is just natural, not forced upon you by reading 4 case studies per day for 2 years. The A-E sections, mascots, sports competitions, and other events are all good fun, but sometimes I feel like I'm in MBA kindergarten. If you put 90% of the students in a situation where they'd have to use real knowledge and skills to help build a country's infrastructure and economy, they'd fail miserably. They only know how to "gamble" on the economy a bit better, and sound smart in meetings.

There you have it. That's the real story. Take it for what it is. You'll never read a more honest assessment of a student's own school.

1- It's an MBA, not a PhD. Students aren't there to learn advanced theoretical concepts, they are there to learn some practical theory and more importantly, to network. If you wanted to be Mr. Analytical you should have pursued a PhD.

2- Marketing, not accounting, is BY FAR the must mundane, simplistic and idiotic class that a business school can offer.

3- 660 GMAT, 3.2 GPA- and YOU are complaining about the calibre of your classmates? No offense, (well maybe a little) but you hardly sound like an intellectual workhorse. You are lucky you got in to Virginia and didn't get stuck going to Ohio State.

4/4/10

I am in 100% agreement with you.

1 - yes, an mba is to network and not learn. why do people pay 150 G's when they should just be practicing their golf swing? the students who do come to learn (about 10% from my experience), really get persecuted and mocked for not attending every lame cocktail event held by citibank.

2 - agreed, however most people have no trouble claiming they know everything about marketing. accounting just strikes me as it is so simplistic, really just basic algebra, and yet so many students here at darden have problems with it.

3 - i never said i was a workhorse of any kind. that's what's so disappointing to me. I'm just your average joe, trying to learn a little bit, get my money's worth, and make it this uber-competitive world. I came in to darden hoping i could keep up with everyone. I will be leaving soon wondering how some of my classmates will survive in world in which basic grammar and algebra are expected...

gpa: 3.2
gmat: 660

1/22/11

I am not sure if this guy is a real student. He lists his GMAT and GPA as 660 and 3.2 respectively. His username is bollywoodmba - which suggests that he might be an Indian. And you need MUCH more than a 660+3.2 to make it to Darden if you're Indian. How do I know? I am a current Indian student at Darden.

6/30/14

So how about sharing your experience?

6/28/09

Columbia is on Par with Wharton in terms of concentrations in finance........

6/29/09

What about Darden vs. NYU? They seem to be similar in the overall rankings/prestige category. However, NYU has the superstar faculty, and Darden has the rigorous curriculum/case method/stronger alumni network. Personally, I feel that I would just fit in better at Darden -- would I go wrong choosing Darden over Stern?

6/29/09

What about Darden vs. UCLA Anderson or UC Berkeley Haas?

6/29/09

Absolutely not. While NYU is known for its Finance focus, Darden is a wonderful school and both are top 15. Both will give you strong opportunities, and, at the end of the day, it is about fit for B school. If you fit better at Darden, you will be more comfortable, network more, do more things, and enjoy your experience much more (and get more out of it), and at the end of the day, rankings pretty much the same, that's what really matters. If you like Darden, and you like their method of instruction, and you the think it is a good overall fit, then do it, and don't look back.

Same can be said for Darden vs Anderson and Haas (even though Haas is top 10). It really depends on what you are interested in pursuing post MBA, where you want to live, and where you think you will fit, bluntly, best. All are very good schools - without knowing what you are interested in, and where you think you will enjoy your 2 years the most, it is tough to say which is probably best for you.

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6/29/09
BankonBanking:

Absolutely not. While NYU is known for its Finance focus, Darden is a wonderful school and both are top 15. Both will give you strong opportunities, and, at the end of the day, it is about fit for B school. If you fit better at Darden, you will be more comfortable, network more, do more things, and enjoy your experience much more (and get more out of it), and at the end of the day, rankings pretty much the same, that's what really matters. If you like Darden, and you like their method of instruction, and you the think it is a good overall fit, then do it, and don't look back.

Same can be said for Darden vs Anderson and Haas (even though Haas is top 10). It really depends on what you are interested in pursuing post MBA, where you want to live, and where you think you will fit, bluntly, best. All are very good schools - without knowing what you are interested in, and where you think you will enjoy your 2 years the most, it is tough to say which is probably best for you.

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Very good advice. It is truly all about fit and where you're going to be most comfortable. For me, I love the case method, rigorous curriculum, and strong alumni/classmate relationships. However, I'm not sure if I could handle going to school in the "South" and having a decent portion of my class being from there/wanting to stay there.

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6/29/09

Forget the overall student profiles and focus on the finance kids. As of last year, the Darden Finance club resume book was available online. Pretty impressive. "run of the mill" was not the norm among the finance resumes I saw. Darden has the lowest GMAT (around 670 average) of the top schools. My conclusion (and by no means fact) is that Darden is a place for someone with a strong profile but relatively weak GMAT.

4/2/10
Buyside <span class=keyword_link><a href=https://www.e-junkie.com/ecom/gb.php?ii=1145861&am... rel=nofollow>CFA</a></span>:

Forget the overall student profiles and focus on the finance kids. As of last year, the Darden Finance club resume book was available online. Pretty impressive. "run of the mill" was not the norm among the finance resumes I saw. Darden has the lowest GMAT (around 670 average) of the top schools. My conclusion (and by no means fact) is that Darden is a place for someone with a strong profile but relatively weak GMAT.

http://www.darden.virginia.edu/html/standard.aspx?...
avg GMAT is actually 701 for anyone who is just now reading the thread.

6/29/09

I would agree with the above posters but in terms of alumni network i would also have to say it is relatively weaker than those aformentioned schools.

6/29/09
dipset1011:

I would agree with the above posters but in terms of alumni network i would also have to say it is relatively weaker than those aformentioned schools.

Really??? I've heard the complete opposite. I've heard that Darden's network is one of the strongest there is outside of the top 10 schools. I consistently hear Darden compared to Tuck both in terms of focus (general management, rigorous curriculum, middle of nowhere setting, close knit community) as well as strength of the alumni network as a result of the above. From what most people tell me, the 2nd tier city schools like UCLA, Berkeley, NYU have awful alumni networks.

6/29/09

I agree with patek. I have always heard that Darden has one of the strongest alumni networks of a top 15 school - but as with all of these things, everyone's experience is different.

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7/17/09

Does anyone know how Darden IBD placement was this year for both full-time and summer positions (particularly at the large firms)? Thanks in advance.

7/17/09
tbdmonkey:

Does anyone know how Darden IBD placement was this year for both full-time and summer positions (particularly at the large firms)? Thanks in advance.

None of the employment reports are out yet -- but if I were to guess, it'll probably be comparable to its peer schools (Duke, Michigan, Cornell)

7/18/09

Yeah, the reports won't be out for a while. I was looking for some anecdotal evidence also, Darden's employment report is not the most informative.

4/2/10

i agree with affirmative action but not all MBA's are practical Uchicago is very theory oriented.

4/2/10
dipset1011:

i agree with affirmative action but not all MBA's are practical Uchicago is very theory oriented.

it sure is, which i think is great.

but that's relative to other MBA programs, even a UChicago MBA won't give you the nuts and bolts theoretical background that a PhD would, nor should it, b/c MBAs are for practitioners, not theoreticians.

4/2/10

Like college, isnt what you get out of an MBA program is what you put into it? Darden is one of the first places I am applying for this fall, and I have been in contact with a few of their MBA students; very sharp and have invested a ton of time and effort into their experience. I look forward to more insight, to see if this is an accurate depiction.

10/8/15

...

4/4/10
bcbunker1:

Why do companies value an MBA if you dont learn anything? Is it really just a signal?

You do learn something, but I reckon the companies view it much more as a signal.

4/4/10

There is a SHITLOAD of work at Darden I've been told. Plus if you like sports you will be miserable there - at all the MBA tournaments I've been to in b-school (that includes poker, soccer and rugby) I have never seen a single Darden team ever. Second prize goes to Chicago (just saw them once at a soccer tournament, they got slaughtered - they do play a LOT of poker though)

Otherwise great post by bollywood, very honest perspective of his school.

4/6/10

Bollywood:

Thanks for the honest advice. I know for a fact that some MBAs go on forums and tell lies about their programs' career placement.

I have one question for you: How is the placement for general management, corporate finance and assorted leadership development programs? The numbers for those positions are impressive. Do you think those numbers are being gamed?

Thanks

4/6/10

Why don't we first determine how the numbers are being gamed. Looking at the employment report it seems that a good number of Darden grads went on to investment banks. I'd like to hear how this data is being manipulated...

4/6/10

Damn I am happy I didn't choose Darden after reading this.

4/6/10
Killer_Queen:

Damn I am happy I didn't choose Darden after reading this.

I personally don't believe what he is saying. Darden is ranked 15th, and from all I've heard, very reputable. I think he had a bad experience there.

4/7/10

Bollywood:

Great post. I am actually going to one of the peer schools you listed earlier... and I must say, as a first-year, I'm experiencing many of the same pitfalls and seeing many of the same problems... lol

I'm starting to think our experiences are pretty representative of the MBA experience in general. I'm not sure about H/S/W.... or even the rest of the M7.... but at least for the rest of the top 20, I'm venturing that Bollywood's experience is pretty representative and spot on.

Seriously, I don't feel like I'm learning at all.... I'm just getting exposed to a bunch of material that I never get a chance to fully absorb. But I gotta say, i probably do sound smarter now at group meetings and when making presentations, and I'm much better at b.s.ing than I ever was before.

I also like my classmates... but I wouldn't trust any of them to park my car, let alone run my company or build a country's infrastructure or economy. Nobody knows what they're doing. The MBA... as a degree.... is a joke.

4/7/10
jojoarmani:

Bollywood:

Great post. I am actually going to one of the peer schools you listed earlier... and I must say, as a first-year, I'm experiencing many of the same pitfalls and seeing many of the same problems... lol

I'm starting to think our experiences are pretty representative of the MBA experience in general. I'm not sure about H/S/W.... or even the rest of the M7.... but at least for the rest of the top 20, I'm venturing that Bollywood's experience is pretty representative and spot on.

Seriously, I don't feel like I'm learning at all.... I'm just getting exposed to a bunch of material that I never get a chance to fully absorb. But I gotta say, i probably do sound smarter now at group meetings and when making presentations, and I'm much better at b.s.ing than I ever was before.

I also like my classmates... but I wouldn't trust any of them to park my car, let alone run my company or build a country's infrastructure or economy. Nobody knows what they're doing. The MBA... as a degree.... is a joke.

well duh

it isn't an academic degree, it's a networking degree with a little theory sprinkled on top.
what are you expecting? even more importantly, are you upset that it's an academic joke? the way I see it, you get two years to enjoy yourself, meet new people, and recruit for top jobs. what were you expecting? to derive the formula for minimum variance portfolios? to determine the correlation between option spreads and option maturities on the CBOE?
do you really want to go through the complex and mind-numbing shit theory that finance PhD students have to endure for 5 years?

also, MBAs don't build the country's infrastructure or economy, PhD's do.

10/8/15

......

4/7/10
bcbunker1:

This is exactly why i don't understand why companies value the MBA for trading. If you aren't learning anything, why give someone a job who has spent their last 2 years drinking and playing sports with their cohort? I could see its value for "relationship oriented" careers but certainly not for trading.

well in terms of prop trading companies,they certainly don't care about MBAs.

as for S&T divisions of IBs, I wonder which MBA programs they recruit from- probably Chicago, Wharton, Columbia Carnegie Mellon, NYU, and Stanford, since they are more "quant", and probably from Harvard, since well, you have to, right?
also, I wonder how many MBAs that go into S&T actually get into trading, and how many get placed in sales.

4/8/10

a current darden student passed this to me and I thought i would share.

http://www.darden.virginia.edu/html/deansblog.aspx...

10/8/15

for a good reference...

10/8/15

$5 for the person who can pronounce the dude on pg. 4's full name.

10/8/15

You owe me $5

10/8/15

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10/8/15

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

4/9/10