Admissions Interview


Dawna Levenson氏へのインタビュー(2022年)

Assistant Dean of AdmissionsのDawna氏にClass of 2022の学生よりインタビューを行いました。

求める人物像やスローンのコミュニティについてなど、MIT Sloanの受験を検討されている方は必見です。在校生から個別に詳しくお話を聞きたい方は、お気軽にコーヒーチャットにお申込みください。


Admission Process

1. What are the characteristics of ideal applicants for MIT Sloan?

I see the ideal MIT Sloan appointee as someone with three main characteristics: (1) they can be successful in an MIT Sloan classroom (i.e., academic performance), (2) they have demonstrated the desire / ability have an impact on organizations and society, and (3) they are a good teammate.

2. Can you disclose how you evaluate applications? 

First, since we only look at applications after the deadline has passed, you should assume that the timing of us looking at your application will be the same whether you submit it just before or well in advance of the deadline.

A group of readers will review every application and make recommendations for interviews. Readers are well-trained, and calibrate on a weekly basis throughout the reading period.   

We focus on two aspects of the application.

The first aspect is demonstrated success. We look at things such as undergraduate GPA, GMAT/GRE scores, and work accomplishments.

The second aspect is personal attributes. This involves how the applicant builds relationships with others, what kind of leadership style the applicant possesses, and how she or he questions the status quo and convinces and influences others.

Readers evaluate each applicant using score cards. Our admissions team uses scorecard guidelines to minimize variation in scores between readers. There are detailed evaluation axes within the two aspects, and each evaluation axis is given a score from -1 to +2 points. We have created an evaluation model that focuses more on the positive and less on the negative. The evaluation system is very detailed. So, for example, applicants with a 760 GMAT score will not necessarily get an interview.

After an applicant is called for an interview, we ask the applicant to provide us with two additional application materials: (1) an essay related to diversity, equity, and inclusion and (2) a document related to data visualization. We value data visualization because we regard it as a necessary skill to have an impact on the world. We do not ask for detailed technical analysis, but we expect that applicants will communicate something about the areas in which they are interested using a theme and backed data. As long as you can create an effective message, the size or time point of the data is not an issue. Also, the interviewer is likely to ask for data visualization during the interview.

3. What do you evaluate most during the application process?

We look at all the components of the application materials. However, the baseline is whether an applicant can be successful in classes at MIT Sloan.

4. The cover letter for MIT Sloan is very short. What do you expect to see in the cover letters?

We regard the cover letter as something that ties together all the pieces in an applicant’s application materials.

Your resume describes your accomplishments, and your video tells us about what excites you from a personal perspective. The cover letter ties it all together and produces a stronger message. We would like applicants to tell us something that will induce us to invite them to an interview. It is not necessary to buy fancy recording equipment for a video essay. 

5. A video essay seems like a unique application piece. What do you expect from video essays?

We expect an applicant to show us what excites them. I have also heard rumors about video essays being a means for us to assess your English ability, while that is not the primary reason for the video, it is important for the adCom committee to be able to understand what is being said.  We also do not require applicants to submit their TOEFL/IELTS scores based on the understanding that we can assess it during the interview that our admission office conducts.

6. Do you have any advice about the interviews?

Be yourself and relax. It is meant to be a conversation. We also recommend that you go through your application again in advance and consider any updates that you can share with us during the interview.

7. One of the additional essays requested after the interview invitation is related to data analytics. Is this an indication of preference for applicants with STEM backgrounds?

It is meant to measure applicants’ communication styles. Today, business decisions are highly data-driven, and so should MBA programs be. The ability to communicate with data is a fundamental aptitude for a leader, and the additional essay is designed to measure such ability.

8. Compared to other schools, Sloan’s application process focuses more on applicants’ pasts than their future goals. What is the philosophy behind this?

  1. Your track record is the strongest proof of who you are as a person.
  2. Your goal may well change as you enter business school and advance your career.

However, this is not to say that we do not value anything about your views toward the future. What you currently have in mind would reflect how MIT Sloan is a good fit for your interests.

9. To the best of our knowledge, there is a myth in Japan that MIT Sloan strongly prefers company-sponsored applicants and applicants from traditional backgrounds, such as banks, trading companies, and consulting firms. Is this myth true?

We do not. We have accepted many Japanese self-sponsored students.

We regard company sponsorship as a means of measuring successful track records within an applicant’s organization, but nothing more than that.

As mentioned, we use a score sheet to examine the application in a standardized and objective manner, and there is no “check box” regarding sponsorship. Some corporate-sponsored applicants may have a strong career-related track record, but this has nothing to do with our admission preferences.

10. In the admission process, do you (if so, how much) consider the balance between corporate-sponsored and self-sponsored applicants?

We do not consider the balance between corporate-sponsored and self-sponsored applicants. We accept attractive applicants regardless of whether the applicants are corporate-sponsored or self-sponsored.

11. Is there any difference in what you expect to see from company-sponsored applicants versus non-traditional applicants?


12. Does MIT Sloan have a desired number of Japanese students per year?


13. MIT Sloan is one of the few top US schools in which the admissions teams visit Japan for information seminars and interviews. Is there any rationale for this?

Pre-COVID, our office travelled the Globe for both recruiting and interviews.  The interview plays an important role in the process of assessing applicants, so we are making a clear interview process done by the admissions team.

14. Do you have any advice for people who are waitlisted?

First, applicants who are waitlisted in R1 are considered as R2 applicants, and we assess them with other R2 applicants.

We encourage waitlisted applicants to send us relevant updates. By receiving relevant updates, we are reassured of the applicants’ continued interest.

However, submitting additional recommendation letters or showing up on our doorstep is not needed.

15. Do you have any advice for reapplicants?

We love reapplicants. We admit reapplicants.

We do not hide the fact that we value what is new or what has changed. Be upfront with us about what has changed since your last application.

If a reapplicant wants to rely on the same people for recommendation letters, that is totally fine. However, please focus on the changes in the recommendation letters as well.

16. How many admitted Japanese applicants receive scholarships upon admission?

Our fellowships and scholarships are merit-based. 

People who are sponsored are not eligible for scholarships.

We also have fellowships specifically for candidates from Japan (e.g., the Tamotsu Adachi [1983] Fellowship).

Life/Community at MIT Sloan

17. What are the strengths of MIT Sloan compared to other top US schools?

One of Sloan’s strengths is that it has the MIT community. It is vital for a business to have a connection with technology, and MIT is where innovation has been happening.

As for the MBA program, we believe that our strength is that the curriculum is very flexible. We have only one semester of core classes, and the remaining three semesters comprise elective classes, allowing students to design their MBA journey on their own. We allow students to drop classes until close to the end of the semester, which allows students to further commit to what they want to focus on, even after the semester starts.

18. How would you describe the culture of MIT Sloan?

Community-driven, inventive, seeking to improve.

19. Is MIT Sloan well connected to other departments at MIT? Are there opportunities for students to attend classes and events in other departments?

Yes. With our flexibility and interdisciplinary culture, it is common for students to take classes from other departments, and it is also common for students to take classes from Harvard Business School, Harvard Kennedy School, etc.

20. As an MIT Sloan alum, what do you think of the MIT Sloan community? Are there any efforts you would like to mention to keep the community vibrant for alums?

It is an amazing environment, and students continue to interact with each other even after graduation. As an alum, I feel very fortunate to be a member of the MIT Sloan Admissions team and a part of this incredible community. 

Dawna Levenson
Director, MIT Sloan Admissions


Rod Garcia氏へのインタビュー(2004年)

MBA Program の Director of Admissions である Rod Garcia 氏にインタビューを行いました(2004年1月30日)。Class of 2006 の入学審査でご多忙な中にもかかわらず、大変気さくに対応してくださいました。

Mr. Rod Garcia
Director of Admissions
MIT Sloan School of Management

1. Expectation for Japanese Students

Q1. What are the expectations or roles of Japanese students here at MIT Sloan?
A1. Our major expectation for Japanese students is to participate actively in the classroom and the MIT Sloan community. We hope that each Japanese student will come to MIT Sloan to continue his/her professional education, and thus make the most out of each experience here. Even if the Japanese student is company sponsored or self sponsored, we hope that all students will participate with the same level of enthusiasm.

Q2. What contributions can the Japanese community make to enrich the MIT Sloan community?
A2. The Japanese community affects the MIT Sloan community in two folds. Firstly, it is great to see that the Japanese community is such a supportive community. A great example of this is the “Welcome to MIT Sloan” book that the Japan club has created. I believe that this supportive Japanese community positively influences the MIT Sloan community as a whole. The second way in which the Japanese community enriches the MIT Sloan community is through the annual “Japan Trip.” The Japan Trip was the pioneer that started other trips to various countries to learn from businesses of that region. I hope that the Japanese community will continue their excellence in planning the Japan Trip and continue to set the precedence for other class-organized trips.

【注】 ”Welcomt to Sloan” とは、日本人在校生が日本人合格者に配布していた生活立ち上げマニュアルです。2003年度からはこのWebサイトに移行しました。

Q3. What are your expectations of the Japanese students after MIT Sloan?
A3. The Japanese MIT Sloan Alumni are the most active alumni. The environment that the alumni create for networking and social events in Japan , and the contributions they have made in general are inspiring and admirable. I hope that students continue the tradition of being a supportive and involved Japanese community beyond the MIT Sloan experience.

2. Admission Process

Q4. What is the essay evaluation method?
A4. One to three people will read your essays. Essays are critical in gaining insight on the applicant. We have expert staffs who have great knowledge in the Japanese education and business systems.

Q5. How important is the GMAT?
A5. GMAT is one of the important factors. Currently, the average GMAT score of all the applicants (not admitted applicants) is around 710. But, of course, it is not the only consideration in the process.

Q6. There is a myth that an applicant needs a GMAT score higher than a V35. Is that true? Is a lower score application read later?
A6. We expect our applicants to score a V36 or higher. However, we are also very flexible. If the applicant has a V30-V35 and outstanding academic history, job experience, or recommendations, then we consider the applicant. If the applicant has an outstanding application and a lower than V30, then we verify the low score by an interview and check his/her language skills. In the past, we didn’t look at applicants who had a GMAT score below a certain threshold. However, in the past three years, we have not used the GMAT as a filter. In fact, we read every application. (*)

(*) In the section of current Japanese students’ profile, you can see that those who had lower than V35 scores were really admitted.

Q7. What is the weight among the job experience, academic history, essays, recommendations and GMAT?
A7. All important sources are weighted equally. However, we have a point system to help us identify a qualified applicant. Very simply, in addition to the intellectual or academic achievement (i.e., job history, GPA, GMAT), we look for “six other major characteristics” in our applicants. Through the application, we would like to understand how the applicant measures up in the following characteristics: 1) leadership, 2) drive, 3) vision, 4) innovation, 5) collaboration, 6) presence. Thus, all of the components of the application are important.

Q8. Do applicants have to have an engineering or math background to be admitted?
A8. No, students have a diverse background in academic history here at MIT Sloan. The math requirement here at MIT Sloan is usually no problem for Japanese students with a high school education.

Q9. Does MIT Sloan have a desired number of Japanese students per year?
A9. We always hope to have a large representation of Japanese students. We don’t have any set numbers but we would like to have more than the previous year. At minimum we would like to have at least seven Japanese students and more desirably around 20.

Q10. Do you have any advice for essays?
A10. Through the essays, the admissions staff would like to understand the applicant. To be more specific, essays should highlight uniqueness of the applicant.

Q11. Do you have any advice for interviews?
A11. My general advice is not to over prepare. In particular, do not memorize your essays before the interview and try to recite them. Although it seems simple, we hope that the applicant will answer the question “that is asked.”

Q12. Do you have any overall advice?
A12. Particularly for Japanese students, I would recommend to apply first round.

Q13. Do you ever have outside consultants for the interview?
A13. No. We always have members of the Admissions Committee or alumni to conduct interviews.

Q14. Do you recommend campus visits?
A14. Yes, I encourage visiting our campus, attending classes, and talking with as many students, faculty, and staffs as you can. It’s the best way to know what the MIT Sloan is and who the Sloanies are.

Q15. Do you have any advice for people who are waitlisted?
A15. Send us an email to let us know that you are really interested.

Q16. Do you have any advice for reapplicants?
A16. Remember what you learned from applying the first time and then reapply.

3. Marketing MIT Sloan to Japan

Q17. What are the strong points of the MIT Sloan brand?
A17. In Japan , I believe MIT has the best reputation of teaching the forefront manufacturing and financial engineering theories and practices. MIT Sloan is also associated with this reputation, so it has a strong image as a very quantitative school.

Q18. Are there any weaknesses in the MIT Sloan brand?
A18. We acknowledge that MIT Sloan needs to increase its brand awareness. Currently, we are identifying our action plans for each country to make our brand more consistent and effective.

Q19. MIT Sloan has an image of being a theory-driven approach. Have you done anything to change that?
A19. I am confident that we will overcome that image because we have taken many actions to change that image. Firstly, the curriculum now incorporates more case studies. Secondly, many courses are project based and require students to work with outside companies and learn outside of the classroom. This is called “experimental learning.” We are confident that this will decrease the gap between theory and practice.