So you’re interested in applying to the GSB? There are some important things to keep in mind:
You may be interested in some other “the”-less schools like Wharton, Booth, HBS, Fuqua, etc., but when it comes to Stanford, there’s a “the” in front. Welcome to the GSB!
The GSB takes its tagline seriously: “Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world.” The GSB seeks candidates who will not only be transformed by the experience of earning an MBA, but who also seek to transform lives, organizations, and the world. Members of the GBS community refer to this motivation frequently in their classes and personal explorations. In the GSB Show a few years ago, they even turned it into an acronym/verb: CLOW!
While the GSB is proud of its Silicon Valley roots and center of entrepreneurship, it prides itself on training global leaders across all sectors. The GSB looks for candidates who will try to make a big difference and is willing to consider applicants who have taken risks, are innovative, and dare to be different/do things differently. Applicants who are looking at an MBA as merely the expected next step to advance up the corporate ladder will not stand out and cutthroat behavior is frowned upon at the GSB.
One of the first classes every GSB student takes is Leadership Labs, and students really do treat the GSB like a leadership laboratory. Aspiring entrepreneurs take classes like Startup Garage where they test product-market fit by the end of the quarter. Aspiring managers become Arbuckle Leadership Fellows and practice coaching first-year students using a variety of interpersonal and coaching skills they learn in Stanford’s unique Interpersonal Dynamics and Fellows classes. Aspiring CEOs practice difficult leadership situations in Managing Growing Enterprises and High-Performance Leadership. And nearly half the class chooses to practice storytelling and building deep connections with classmates by giving 30-minute TALKs about the most formative and challenging moments in their lives.
Important Insights about Stanford GSB
GSB students start fall quarter of their first year with courses completely within their section, and no club sign-ups, so by December everyone knows their section really well. Much of the first year is dedicated to management perspectives and foundations, with some courses offering three levels of complexity depending on students’ previous experience. For example, students with little statistical background take a statistics foundations course, while those with extensive background dive into big data analysis and machine learning. Part of the first year and all of the second year are filled with a wide array of electives, from sophisticated finance classes to the famous “touchy feely” course that helps students build soft skills and connect emotionality to leadership. A year at the GSB consists of three quarters, so students can explore a breadth of courses. Many students also take advantage of courses ‘across the street’ in other Stanford programs, exploring design thinking, engineering, computer science, and other disciplines.
The GSB sports a variety of clubs for students to get involved in, ranging from affinity groups to career focuses to pure fun. Among Stanford’s more unique clubs are the GSB Show — an original musical written, composed, and performed each year by GSB students — and View from The Top — a group that hosts speakers from around the world who are leaders in their field. Global opportunities abound as well. Students can go on and lead global study trips to destinations all over the world, and the Global Management Immersion Experience enables students to spend more than four weeks working in a new country. For students eager to have social impact, Impact Labs set students up with projects for nonprofit boards and impact investors, and the Social Innovation Club brings in a steady stream of social enterprises and other impact-driven organizations and leaders.
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