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UW MBA Consortium Holistic Admissions

Posted: September 14th, 2023

Marci Francisc

Marci Francisco had a lengthy and wide-ranging set of professional experiences before applying to the University of Wisconsin MBA Consortium in early 2023. Starting in the entertainment industry before making a career change to marketing and business development, she currently serves as the chief experience officer at Premier America Credit Union in Los Angeles. Francisco oversees marketing, business development, community and governmental relations and serves as interim executive director for their non-profit foundation. For someone with that level of experience, she felt the GMAT test was an unwelcome barrier.

After gathering data for nearly two years, program leadership made the data driven decision in late 2022 that the GMAT was an unnecessary requirement for admission to the UW MBA Consortium, making the admission process easier for students like Marci. "While I considered taking the exam, it also felt somewhat unnecessary after a career span of almost 30 years," Francisco says. Her ultimate aspiration is to become a credit union CEO. "Graduating from the UW MBA Consortium with my MBA will make that dream a reality."

For her, the UW MBA Consortium making the GMAT optional factored heavily into her decision to apply. "It reduced a barrier to application and admission, and I began thinking about pursuing my MBA in earnest," Francisco says. "Honestly, I don't think I would have applied if not for that change - regardless of the strength of any program. While I believe the test is valuable for students who go from undergraduate work to grad school or those early in their careers, for tenured, working professionals, having the flexibility to waive that requirement is very appealing," Francisco says.

Beginning with the Spring 2023 MBA cohort, the program removed the GMAT score requirement from the admission process. Prospective students are no longer required to submit GMAT or GRE scores as part of their application; instead, scores will be an optional piece of information students can include to strengthen their application.

The program leadership enacted this new holistic admissions model to review prospective students using a more thoughtful and comprehensive approach. The change occurred after spending two years evaluating whether the score needed to be a part of the admissions process and how it would affect the cohort population.

"We evaluated students' success in our program with and without a GMAT/GRE score and found no significant differences between these groups," Jessica Franson, managing director of the UW MBA Consortium, says. "This holistic approach to reviewing applications enables candidates to showcase their varied experiences and successes."

To understand the student's potential fit in the program, the admissions team reviews work history, academics, career trajectory, and personal motivation for pursuing an MBA. These elements help the team gather a complete picture of how a candidate spends their time and what drives their desire for the MBA degree. It is then through this full lens of information that they review potential MBA candidates.

Dr. Brewer Doran, dean of UW-Eau Claire's College of Business, agrees that eliminating the GMAT/GRE requirement supports the UW MBA Consortium's goal of a holistic admissions process.

"Eliminating the requirement for the GMAT/GRE allows applicants more flexibility in how they present themselves in their applications and may be helpful to those who have been in the workforce for a number of years," Doran says.

Applicants should still consider submitting their GMAT/GRE scores to strengthen their applications.

"We will continue to practice holistic admissions, looking at the applicant's full portfolio, and the GMAT or GRE remains an option for those who feel it will strengthen their application," says TJ Brooks, dean of the College of Business at UW-La Crosse. The work is paying off as the UW MBA Consortium program is admitting a broader range of applicants that will succeed in the academic and business environment and positively impact our communities. 

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