Stanford Looking For Diverse Undergrads

Stanford University's Graduate School of Business campus

Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business campus

Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business is opening its doors to undergraduate students for a three-day residence on campus this August.

The new program, available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who will enter their junior year in college this fall, is meant to give a taste of MBA education to undergraduate students.

The inaugural Stanford MBA Future Leaders Program takes place on the business school campus August 11 through 14 and is completely free. The school is even covering transportation costs to and from the program (including airfare), as well as lodging and food.


Stanford is launching the program a year after Harvard Business School launched a similar effort to attract more women to its MBA program. The HBS initiative, called PEEK, brought 124 undergraduate women to Harvard’s business school campus last June. That three-day program is an attempt to make the MBA a more attractive proposition to young women who are less likely to pursue graduate work in business than either law or medicine. Harvard is repeating its PEEK program this June, with an April 21st deadline for applications.

Stanford is taking a slightly different tact with its Future Leaders Program. The school apparently hopes to seed its MBA applicant pipeline with more diverse candidates through the new initiative. “This program aims to increase the breadth of backgrounds and perspectives in the Stanford community by bringing your voice to the GSB,” according to the school. “If you would add diversity broadly defined to the business school and business communities, you are particularly encouraged to apply. This includes, but is not limited to African American, Hispanic American, Native American, and LGBTQ students; first-generation college students; Pell-grant eligible students, and students with other work and life experiences that may add a distinct perspective.”

Harvard and Stanford both offer deferred admission decisions for undergrads who want to apply to their MBA programs. The Harvard program, called 2+2, allows undergraduates to gain acceptance and then go off and work for two to three years before coming to campus to study for the MBA. Stanford’s deferred enrollment program offers the same opportunity. PEEK and Future Leaders are efforts to prime the pump for more diverse candidates for these deferred admission efforts as well as future MBA applicant pools.


During the three-day event, participants will “ experience the academic life of a MBA student by participating in classes with Stanford GSB faculty. You will dive into a case study and examine a real business issue.”

The school also said students would engage in a “design thinking exercise,” a hands-on workshop in which the Standford d.School’s design approach to solving problems would be taught.

Students also are expected to work with the business school’s career management center to “plan the next steps for your career after college.” Stanford is planning company visits to top companies in the Bay Area and is also doing what it calls an MBA Bootcamp to provide participants with a better understanding of the GSB’s admission process and “get preapred to apply in the future.”

The school makes clear that students accepted into its program may not have an advantage over other applicants to Stanford later on. According to the announcement of the program, the school states that the program “will not necessarily increase your likelihood of admission to the MBA program at Stanford.” HBS takes a similar stance in its PEEK program for women.


Even though the Stanford program occurs two months later than Harvard’s PEEK, the school is setting a deadline  for applications that is a month earlier than HBS. The final deadline to apply is March 17, with notifications sent to students by March 31. The school said that majors in science, technology, engineering, art, and math are especially encouraged to apply. Competitive applicants need a 3.0 cumulative GPA or higher.

Program application materials include:

Educational history: Submit an unofficial copy of your transcripts from your current undergraduate institution.

Extracurricular involvement and employment history (if applicable): Submit a resume describing any work experiences, paid or unpaid internships, awards or honors (academic, professional, or personal), and involvement in extracurricular activities including but not limited to sports, clubs, and volunteer experiences. The resume may not exceed one page.

Recommendation from a college advisor or work/internship supervisor: Submit the name and contact information for your recommender. The recommender will submit a short letter to recommend you for the program. A recommender can be an academic advisor, professor, or a current/previous supervisor.

Essays: Submit responses to two short essays. Your answers for both essay questions may not exceed 450 words (in total). You have two options for your second essay.

  1. How might your background, such as where/how you grew up, your work and life experiences, skills and interests, culture, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, or ethnicity, influence your contributions to this program and the experience of your classmates? Please describe these factors and their relevance.

2a) Tell us about a time when you overcame a particularly challenging situation, or series of challenging situations.


2b) When you picture your future, what does it look like? What worries you most? What are the resources (internal or external) you will draw upon to succeed?

The school said it would evaluate candidates in three areas: academic achievement, demonstrated leadership potential, and contributions to diversity as a program participant.


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