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#35 Cornell Johnson MBA Admissions Q&A with Christine Sneva “Join our club”

Cornell Johnson MBA Admissions Director Christine Sneva

“What makes Johnson different? It’s our club. You’re going to go through a tough admissions process. You’re going to get that admit letter and feel like you did it. And then you’re going to get here and say, ‘I have never been in a room with this many accomplished people in my entire life.’ You’re going to be pushed every step of the way. This is the club which you can envision yourself walking across that stage… you have an Ivy league education and 5 years out you can’t wait to come back for reunions. 2 years out when you hear we’re in your city, we’re as excited to see you as you are to see us.”

I started this podcast to have open conversations with Admissions Directors so you could get a good feel for not only the bschool, but also for the people evaluating your application. Many see admissions at top bschools as a black box, and I’m trying to tear those walls down.

This week I had such a chat with Christine Sneva, who is Executive Director of Admissions and Financial Aid of MBA Programs at Cornell Johnson. Christine is one of the most enthusiastic guests I’ve had on the show. And she really opens up on what makes Johnson special and how her team looks at applications. You can really go behind the scenes of Cornell’s admissions process in this episode.

Although Johnson’s class is relatively small (270 students in 2 year program, 60 in 1 year program), Christine makes it very clear that Cornell’s bschool network is the 2nd largest in the Ivy League behind Harvard and that students really benefit from the size and engagement of the “Big Red” network. Johnson’s flexible curriculum and 1st year focus on immersions have really helped students with internship (and job) placements.

The Cornell Johnson MBA in 140 characters or less: “#CornellMBA innovative programs & is one of the largest bschools #ILR #Dyson #MMH & most engaged alumni networks, we are Cornellians!”

I hope you enjoy this episode as much as I did!

Cornell Johnson MBA Admissions

Touch MBA’s Cornell Johnson MBA Essentials

Program Highlights (2:49)

  • Johnson founded in 1946
  • 1 intake / year in early August (2-year program) or May (1-year program)
  • Length: 21 months or 12 months
  • Campus in Ithaca, New York, known for it’s college town atmosphere
  • ~275 participants/intake for 2-year program, ~60 for 1-year program
  • ~30 nationalities/intake, class is ~30% international for 2-year program, 15 nationalities/intake, ~47% international for 1-year
  • Program structure: Core courses, Semester Immersion Learning Program, Electives, 5 breadth concentrations and 7 depth concentrations
  • PIM member, partnership with 30+ exchange schools
  • Rankings: #24 Financial Times 2013, #16 US News 2014, #7 Bloomberg Businessweek 2012, #17 Economist 2013
  • Accredited by AACSB

Admissions (23:12)

  • Deadlines for 2014 intake
  • Round 1: Oct 2 (Dec 11)
  • Round 2: Dec 4 (Feb 5)
  • Round 3: Feb 12 (Mar 26)
  • Candidates encouraged to apply in earlier rounds
  • 2 yr program – for career switchers
  • 1 yr program – for candidates with significant experience and advanced degrees
  • 2105 applications received, 288 enrolled, 28% acceptance rate
  • Avg GMAT: 700 (80% range 640 – 740), Avg GPA: 3.3 (90% range 2.7 – 3.8)
  • Avg age: 27, Avg work experience: 5 years
  • Min TOEFL: 600 (paper), 100 (internet), IELTS: 7
  • Interviews done by admissions staff
  • Looking for candidates who: “…after careful review of successful candidates, we found there are three main elements they addressed very well:  1) understood their value proposition because they knew how to answer difficult questions about their true intentions and understood what they look forward to in joining b-school, 2) we really like people that have made things happen for them showing they are self-driven and motivated and 3) those with focus and confidence in their career self-efficacy.” – Christine Sneva
  • Interview is heavily weighted in admissions decisions

Financing (48:11)

  • Full-time MBA Tuition: $112,000 USD (2 yr), $92,500 USD (1 yr)
  • Recommended living cost budget: $22,000 USD / year
  • Over $1 million of merit scholarships available, 25 Park Leadership Fellows offer full scholarships for US citizens
  • 30% of participants awarded scholarships
  • Scholarship amounts range from [ # ] to Full
  • Scholarships are merit-based and awarded with offer
  • International students can apply for loans through Johnson with no cosigner

Career (52:19)

  • Cornell Johnson MBA – Full-time placement report for 2-year program and 1-year program
  • Average Salary (Bonus): $106,000 ($26,000)
  • 13,500 Johnson alumni, 300,000 Cornell alumni
  • Student visa can be extended to allow graduates to stay in the US for 12 months after graduation

Get In Touch

Show Notes


  • Email: be the first to get our interviews and application tips
  • iTunes: leave us a review too – five stars? 😉
  • Stitcher Radio: great for listening on Android, Apple, or other mobile devices

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the podcast. Email Darren or comment below!

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Two thoughts on “#35 Cornell Johnson MBA Admissions Q&A with Christine Sneva “Join our club”

  1. Pingback: #126 Cornell Johnson MBA Admissions Interview with Eddie Asbie - » Touch MBA

  2. Pingback: #126 Cornell Johnson MBA Admissions Interview with Eddie Asbie - Touch MBA

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