Business School Profile: Virgina Darden

The MBA Exchange features a series of articles showcasing graduate management programs that our thousands of clients have found most rewarding. Our content is compiled from a number of credible sources and articles and expanded with our own observations based on nearly two decades of advising applicants.

The mission of the University of Virginia Darden School of Business is to develop “principled leaders in the world of practical affairs.” Their MBA students take this to heart, and are actively involved in clubs and in the larger Charlottesville community; read all about it on their active student blogs. Connections are strengthened through the UVA alumni network and Darden’s Career Development Center. The mission statement extends to the impact that Darden students – who draw upon the case method and action-oriented learning – have in their careers and on society. Darden has termed this “The Darden Distinction.”

In contrast to a lecture-based approach to education, class time at Darden is spent discussing cases about actual business problems and solutions. Under the skillful direction of Darden professors — ranked the #1 teaching faculty by The Princeton Review in 2007 and 2008 — students strengthen their communication and leadership skills by learning to make difficult decisions with limited information. (Just like the real world, eh?) The Behavioral Research at Darden (BRAD) Lab is a clear testament to this commitment.

Our clients who attended Darden consider their overall MBA experience to be a great one. They’re not alone; Darden came in at #1 in student satisfaction according to a 2010 Bloomburg Businessweek ranking. They describe UVA as being a cross between the academic rigor and intensity of Harvard Business School with the southern charms of regional rival Duke Fuqua. Not a bad combination. One recent grad calls it, “The best kept secret among all b-schools.” No argument here.

Student self-governance is central to UVA, extending to the Honor Code, section and class leadership, clubs and other extracurricular activities. Students are enthusiastic about the many campus organizations available and formal events like First Coffee, a tradition that began with the founding of the Darden School over 50 years ago; the entire Darden community gathers for coffee at 9:30 a.m. between the first and second classes each weekday.

Such intimacy extends into the program’s bucolic, charming home town of Charlottesville in the heart of Virginia’s “horse country.” This is a great college town, with the exception of the deep summer months July and August when the humidity can be oppressive. Lots of weekend diversions await in Washington, DC, which is just a few hours away.

If this is an MBA program that appeals to you, please request a free evaluation of your candidacy. If you’ve decided to pursue admission, then contact The MBA Exchange for a dialogue with one of our admissions consultants – including former admissions officers and MBA grads — who can help you develop a strategy and tactics to maximize your chances for admission at this and other top-tier b-schools.