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#2 NUS MBA Admissions Q&A with Ms. Chua Nan Sze, Marie Antonie

“NUS is in a unique strategic position, where it is offering a global curriculum benchmarked against top universities in the West; at the same time it offers a unique position right in the heart of Asia… it links up the best of East and West.”

This week I sat down with Ms. Chua Nan Sze, Marie Antonie, who is Director of Graduate Studies, NUS Business School, and looks after the NUS MBA and EMBA programs.

Topics discussed:

  • The latest curriculum changes at the NUS MBA
  • Why NUS can compete with top-ranked MBA programs in the West
  • NUS’ focus on international exposure through exchanges, study trips, and double degree programs
  • The consulting companies that recruit NUS MBAs
  • How NUS reviews your application, and when you can expect to hear a decision
  • All things admissions – what makes a strong candidate and scholarship candidate
  • Why you have a much better chance applying in Rd 1 than Rd 2

Ms. Chua emphasized applying as soon as possible to give yourself the best chance, given NUS MBA’s rolling admissions and majority of top candidates applying in the first round. Depending on the strength of your application, you should expect to hear back from the program in 6-8 weeks.

Starting in Fall 2013, the MBA program will require all students to take a management communication course (taught by an ex McKinsey CEO) and a management practicum, where teams of students spend over 130 hours helping a company solve an important business problem.

NUS is positioning itself as “Asia’s Global Business School” and with it’s numerous double degree programs (NUS-Peking U, NUS-HEC, S3 with Korea U and Fudan U, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy), global study trips, and exchanges with top universities around the world, offers unique value and exposure for candidates looking to get a top-ranked MBA in Asia.

Listen on for much, much more!

Show Notes

  • Get your profile assessed by NUS MBA’s Admissions Team
  • Consulting Firms that recruit NUS MBAs: McKinsey, Deloitte, DHL, Frost and Sullivan, KPMG, Double Effect, Linkage Asia, DEGW. Note: these companies are looking for candidates with previous consulting experience or prior knowledge a specific industry or line of business.

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Full Transcript

Darren: Okay, welcome everybody to the show. This is Darren from Singapore MBA Consulting and I’m really excited. I have a very special guest today, Ms. Chua Nan Sze Marie-Antonie, who is the Director of Graduate Studies at NUS Business School. So, she oversees both the MBA and the EMBA programs at the school. Welcome to the show Ms. Chua.

Ms. Chua: Hi Darren and hi everyone. Good to be on the show today.

Darren: Fantastic. So, Ms. Chua, I noticed that you graduated in 2005, with an NUS MBA; a double-degree from NUS and Peking University and now you’re running the program. So, I was curious about how the degree has helped in your own professional life and how you’ve seen the program change in the last seven years?

Ms. Chua: Sure. I would say that the MBA is about getting the networks as well as the knowledge itself. So, I really value the experience, especially the cultural immersion in China, as well as the solid business background knowledge that NUS has given me.

I would say that, without this MBA degree, I probably wouldn’t have gotten up to where I am today. I would say that this NUS MBA double-degree at Peking University gave me a very good foundation and in terms of business management knowledge, but knowing the culture of the Chinese helped me into taking up the leadership of the Asia Pacific Executive MBA in Chinese as well as the Master’s in Public Administration and Management in Chinese. Because they think that I do know how to communicate with the Chinese students as well as know how to entertain and drink with them. That’s very important knowledge that you get in the MBA.

Of course the MBA has since changed a lot. I would say during my time itself, the offices were quite small, there were no rankings and today we have rankings. It has since progressed from 80 something right up to 23 worldwide MBA rankings for Financial Times.

As well as other rankings is beefing up of offices. The last time we used to work with one, two-men career services team. Now we have about six or seven people in that team taking care of MBA itself. Of course, the MBA team as well, so beefing up the professionalism and these things and teams, so we get more study trips. Last time it was one trip per year and now it’s like five. Some are out of Asia of course.

We send our students for case competitions; we get a greater diversity and better quality of candidates. Best of all I would say that for this year itself we will embark on a curriculum review in which we have included a soft-skills component. Management communications, which is taught by Mr. Hsieh Tsun-Yan who is the ex-CEO of McKinsey. He teaches you how to write, speak, is really leadership communication. And we also have our executive in residence, Mr. Tan Soo Jin, who in 2008 was named one of the top 100 headhunters in the world. He’s also our management advisory board member. He has come to conduct fire side chats with our students. So, guiding them along not just in terms of career development, but also character development.

Darren: Wow, okay, great. So, actually maybe to take a step back here, could you tell our listeners which MBA programs and which EMBA programs you’re looking after at the NUS Business School?

Ms. Chua: Right. So, I joined NUS about seven years ago and in 2008, was promoted to head up the Executive MBA programs, consisting of the Asia Pacific Executive MBA in English, Pacific Executive MBA in Chinese as well as the UCLA NUS Executive MBA.

A year later, the Masters of Public Administration and Management in Chinese was added to my portfolio, so I was taking care of four programs and only last year the MBA was added to my portfolio as well. So, that’s a huge portfolio for someone taking care of the MBA and Executive MBA programs in school.

Darren: Got it. So, you really have a long history with both the NUS MBA program as a student and looking after this large portfolio of programs. That’s fantastic and you mentioned that one of the biggest differences is you have beefed up the career services, you’ve beefed up the number of study trips, you’ve beefed up the types and numbers of students you’re attracting. Has the class size remained relatively similar to when you were a student and are there any plans to increase that roughly 100-student class size?

Ms. Chua: I would say that the class size has definitely increased from when I was a student, but more importantly, the quality. So, in terms of the number of the diversity of students in terms of nationalities, functions, industries, it has really improved. Even the number of years of work experience, GMAT score, has improved tremendously from when I was a student about eight or nine years back.

Darren: Great, what is the main reason because NUS MBA is consistently one of, if not the highest rank Singapore MBA program by a number of publications. And why do you think that is? Why has NUS been able to climb that ranking?

Ms. Chua: I would say it’s due to a number of factors.  I mean year on year, we look at the quality of the candidates that we admit and we try to improve on the people that we recruit. I would say that one is also the quality of the program and it’s relevant to businesses, which employers recognize.

So, we make sure that we have regular curriculum reviews once every few years, to make things that make things relevant and rewarding. We also hire faculty members, so during my time there was probably a smaller crew of faculty members and now we have at least 140 faculty members and many visiting faculty members. Like for example, this year, we have a Chief Asia Economist and Ex-MD of Goldman’s Sachs, who’s teaching Macroeconomics in the MBA class itself.

Darren: Great, so a focus on attracting world class faculty and experienced faculty and constant review of the curriculum to make sure it’s relevant and important for today’s MBAs. You mentioned the management communication – the new curriculum change. Are there any others that have happened this year or is that the main / change?

Ms. Chua: Management Communications would be a core component next year onwards.

Darren: Got it.

Ms. Chua: So, all our students will have to go through this in addition to marry the academic side and the practical side, we also have meet them, management practicum a compulsory subject for students joining us next year onwards.

Darren: Okay, can you talk a little bit more about what that entails – a management practicum?

Ms. Chua: Management practicum would be getting a group of our students, like three or four of them, to work closely with a company to solve a business problem that they may present. At the end of the three, four, five months really depends, but would be about an investment of 130 hours there about. The students will have to give a presentation as well as a report to both the company as well as the faculty supervisor, who will then decide to award them four credits towards graduation.

Darren: I see and do students have a choice in picking those companies or does the business school facilitate those relationships.

Ms. Chua: Well, we have a team here who will actively sourcing out for companies, but students can also take the initiative to present business problems from the place that they are working or from some associates that they have.

Darren: Got it. I think a lot of students will be interested in doing that, to get that real world experience. Another question I had about ranking, because a lot of people listening, I’m sure they have this question: NUS has a great ranking, you guys are ranked 23rd this year by FT.

Ms. Chua: Right.

Darren: But some candidates might say, “Well, look at the school surrounding NUS.” Now, I know we never like to compare schools, but there’s Yale, Oxford, Cornell, Cambridge; these are the four schools that are surrounding NUS. And some students might say, “Well, do I get more latitude with a western MBA degree for my career, than going to NUS even though it has a great reputation, great ranking and so forth.” What would you say to these candidates?

Ms. Chua: Well, I would say that the candidates joining us would have the foresight to see that there is huge growth in Asia. Where are the world’s economic powerhouses now? It would be China and it would be India. So, I would say that NUS is in a very unique strategic position, where it is offering a global curriculum that is benchmarked against the top universities in the West. At the same time, it offers a unique position, right in the heart of Asia, where everything is happening. It links up the best of East as well as West, our faculty are trained at the best schools in the West and they write case studies based on Asia-Pacific specific companies. So, I would say that it’s very practical, is applicable to the companies here.

I would say that not just our MBA is ranked top 23 in the world, our Executive MBA also provides additional support, where our UCLA-NUS Executive MBA is ranked top five worldwide EMBA by Financial Times and our Asia Executive MBA is are ranked top 26 worldwide Executive MBA. So, I would say that these couple things, ranking, accreditations, a unique location, a unique curriculum where it’s not just Harvard Ivy case studies, but also case studies and textbooks written by our professors themselves. So, it’s very relevant in Asia.

Darren: Yeah and I think I noticed a lot of westerners—there’s increasing interest for westerners to come to Asia to get their MBAs. And speaking from your own experience, because you got that double-degree at Peking University, what is the alumni network like for the NUS MBA and Peking University?

Ms. Chua: The alumni network is huge, but again it all boils down to the individual’s willingness to network and tap on the alumni networks itself, because alumni networks can be very valuable, especially not just in terms of friendships, but also in terms of potential business opportunities or employment.

I would say that, I’m so sorry, I do not know the exact numbers, but it’s definitely numbers into the hundreds of thousands and it really does help with two networks; NUS network as well as Peking University Network. And it’s not just at the business school level but it’s also at the University level. So we are able to reach out to a lot of alumni if we want to and the alumni is also quite active, so they do hold gatherings in different cities in different parts of the world, occasionally, not just for social events, but also the academic forums and corporate visits and things like that.

Darren: Great and one other question I had about the academic program, was exchange programs.

Ms. Chua: Uh-huh.

Darren: So, correct me if I’m wrong, but the NUS MBA can run 16 months.

Ms. Chua: 17 months.

Darren: 17 months, okay?

Ms. Chua: Uh-huh.

Darren: And I noticed that you have a number of specialization tracks, like real estate, marketing, etc., but can you talk a little bit more about the exchange programs that NUS MBA students can go on and whether there’s an application process involved. Because, I noticed a lot of your exchange program partners are really top schools around the world as well.

Ms. Chua: Yes, right. We’re kind of picky about our exchange partners. We do review whether the school has been actively sending out students and vice versa once every few years. So, we have more than 60 exchange partners around the world and these would be the top schools in each region or each country. The number of partners are still increasing, but at the same time we are very careful about who we pick as our partners.

So, I would say that this is also part of the overall scheme for our students to have an international exposure, so if it’s not through student exchange for about three to four months, then it would be through the summer or winter exchanges, which runs for about two weeks.  If students are too busy to take part in these ones, especially the part-time students, they can choose to go on the study trips, which we organize through different parts of the world about five times every year. Two of which are out of Asia and three of which are within Asia. So, the last year we went to Thailand, we went to Hong Kong, we went to Japan. We also brought them to Los Angeles and next year itself we will be bringing them to Spain, to India, to Taiwan. So, it’s very, very exciting.

Darren: Yeah.

Ms. Chua: So, coming back to the exchange program there is an application, usually the hot schools which would be schools like Cornell, Duke, NYU and some of the top schools in Asia like Tsinghua and ISB. They will be, I would say, “oversubscribed” by our students. So, students will have to submit their resume, go through an interview and we will have to assess sending our best students to the best schools based on their contributions to the NUS MBA as well as their results, and why they want to go to these schools, like for example, finance with NYU or marketing with UCLA; something like that.

Darren: That’s great and so can NUS MBA students still specialize in say, marketing or get a concentration in real estate even if they exchange?

Ms. Chua: Sure. We do—

Darren: Okay, it is possible.

Ms. Chua: Yeah, we do have five specializations here. So, finance, marketing, strategy and organization, real estate and health care management. Our students, both full-time and part-time students, whether with specialization or without, still go to these schools for exchange. Sometimes it can be to get advantage, because some of these schools offer stronger courses in, for example, luxury marketing in HEC Paris; things like that. So, they get the best knowledge from these schools as well. Not just that, even our double-degree students sometimes go on exchange. Strange as it may sound, sometimes they may go in the winter and summer exchanges. So, we have like one of our students from the NUS MBA double-degree Peking University go to India ISB for the exchange. So it becomes a “Chindiapore” program. Yeah.

Darren: That is a really special opportunity and I hope more candidates take advantage of that. This has been great so far. Is there anything about the NUS MBA program that you wish more candidates knew about, that they can’t find on the website, they can’t find in the brochures?

Ms. Chua: Uh-huh.

Darren: Yeah.

Ms. Chua: I would really hope that everyone will have an opportunity to visit Singapore and in the process, visit NUS itself. While they are here, if they contact us early and they are potential candidates for the NUS MBA program, we can actually arrange for them to sit in the class to experience for themselves what it is like to be in the NUS MBA class, the NUS MBA cohort. So, they will experience the diversity that’s here.

In addition, I would say that the double-degree programs are really something that is worth looking at. So, we have double-degree at Peking University. We also have double-degree with HEC Paris. We also have a double-degree with Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. We also have special program called the S Cubed (S3) Asia MBA program that spends six months in Shanghai and six months in Seoul and six months in Singapore with Fudan University and Korea University Business School to give them an Asia prospective. It’s called the Asia MBA. I would say if you’re going for a full-time program, no harm taking up a double-degree program.

One last thing that I would like to mention, which is a very well-hidden secret which I wish was a bit more publicized would be the MBA Alumni Lifelong Learning Program. So, if you graduated from the NUS MBA or Executive MBA programs and you are, say based in the region, you can come back to join us for our courses at a nominal fee or for free. Yeah.

Darren: That’s great, for the rest of their life?

Ms. Chua: Yes, for the rest of your life. This is like you pay once and you can learn and refresh yourself forever. Fantastic.

Darren: Great. And just to clarify to listeners, if they were interested in say, NUS PKU, Beijing Uiversity, NUS HEC, S3, do they get degrees from both institutions or is it a dual-degree that says, “NUS-PKU?”

Ms. Chua: Oh, they get the degree from both institutions. So, it’s separate degrees from both institutions as if you did your full-time MBA in that institution itself. No difference.

Darren: Do the students also get access to those other alumni networks at PKU, HEC…?

Ms. Chua: Alumni networks as well as careers service? Yes.

Darren: Great.

Ms. Chua: As well as the study trips or whatever. Yeah. In each of these partner universities they are treated as if they are the full-time students in these institutions itself.

Darren: Got it and do the normal regular NUS MBA students—do they take classes at the same time with the NUS-PKU and NUS-HEC students and S3 students?

Ms. Chua: / Yes.

Darren: So, there’s mingling—

Ms. Chua: There’s mingling between the single degree and the double-degrees. There also mingling between the full-time and the part-time students. In addition, we also try to make opportunities for mingling between the students as well as the Executive MBA students, the students as well as the alumni.

Darren: Got it.

Ms. Chua: In small social settings, of course.

Darren: Yeah. Okay, great and if we could shift our attention to career services, which is, along with admissions which we’ll get to later often the biggest concerns of candidates. So, I looked at your website, I saw a very interesting statistic and that was that the primary source of full-time acceptances for NUS MBA students was through school facilitated activities, at close to 90 percent. So, I think that a lot of candidates would be interested in knowing how the business school helps them with their career search and of course they’re going to have to really take the initiative and reach out themselves, but what does NUS—what activities does NUS Business School do to help students with their internships and with placements post-MBA?

Ms. Chua: Right. So, our MBA career services team invites companies on campus for recruitment talks and stuff like that. We also have career fairs where our students can network with recruiters. We have workshops, many of them business etiquette, interview skills, resume review; we have a lot of networking events. We also have daily job postings and internships as well as career advisory with individual career counselors.

As I mentioned earlier, we also have our Executive in Residence, Mr. Tan Soo Jin who was the top 100 headhunters of 2008 to come in to provide some career advice, but most of all I would say, because of the diversity, because of the bonds that you form during your MBA, probably one of the best ways to get a job will be through your friends in the MBA. And from my personal experience friends are just more than happy to push you to their employers, even though you may not have the relevant background, because they know that you’re good.

Darren: Wow, so, I mean that’s a very collaborative culture. I’m sure everyone at the MBA program, they want to get the best jobs and they’re willing to help their classmates out. I think that’s fantastic.

Ms. Chua: Yep.

Darren: With the 17 month program—do students commonly pursue internships?  Like is a typical career path to go from an internship with the company to a job—or yeah, I’m just wondering how common internships are?

Ms. Chua: Right. So, about half or more of the MBA students every year undertake an internship. This will be useful for those who are looking for a change in career or to secure a job before graduation. Most of my friends, including myself, actually secured a job before we graduated. So, I would think that most people actually would prefer internships even though I would recommend that those who are not switching careers to go on student exchange, because I always tell them that you’re be working so hard for the rest of your life, it’s like an extended internship whereas you never, ever get another chance at student exchange.

Darren: Yeah.

Ms. Chua: Unless you’re sent overseas, right?

Darren: Great, great with the 17 month program, everything is so accelerated and there’s so many resources at their fingertips and I’m sure it’s tough to choose between going on exchange or on a study trip abroad or to do an internship. Yeah, and also a lot of people that visit Singapore MBA Consulting are very interested in consulting, and I noticed that roughly 30 percent of your alums, at least last year, went into the consulting field. And so, I’m sure they would love to hear what type of consulting firms are recruiting NUS grads and what can these candidates do to give themselves the best chance of success to work in a consulting role post-MBA.

Ms. Chua: I would say that we actually recruit from—diverse people from diverse backgrounds and functions. Most of our students are from the IT and engineering background, but for these people who want to change careers, they have successfully made that change into finance and consulting. So, that’s something that we’re really proud about. Both large and boutique consulting firms recruit MBA graduates from NUS Business School. Regardless of their size, these firms are looking for candidates with previous consulting experience or prior knowledge of specific industry or line of business. Amongst the larger firms, some recent employers of NUS MBAs include Deloitte, DHL in-house consulting, McKinsey, Frost and Sullivan, KPMG and amongst the smaller firms, more specialized firms, some of our recent MBA grads have joined Double Effect, which is focused on private wealth, Linkage Asia in the area of leadership, development and DEGW, now part of AECOM, a consultancy focused on work place design and planning.

Darren: Okay and most of these consulting jobs are in Singapore?

Ms. Chua: Actually, they are all over the place. The NUS MBA is one of those that are highly ranked in terms of global mobility, so our students, once they graduate, they can work anywhere in the world.

Darren: Okay. Yeah, I think that really helps. Just to hear those names, because I think that’s very useful for our listeners, just to hear what sort of consulting companies are recruiting from NUS. And I’ll be sure to link to your career service pages in the show notes to make sure everyone can know where to go to look for those companies.

Yeah, so if we can move to admissions. NUS is a very, very selective school and so if you could walk us through the life of an application in your office from the time someone applies, clicks that submit button, submits their application—can you explain the process of what happens when they submit the application to when they hear back from NUS?

Ms. Chua: So, we actually review applications on a rolling basis. I would advise candidates to send in the applications as early as possible and not wait until the application deadline and vie for time in cyberspace with the rest of the candidates; that’s when the peak happens.

So, once the application is completed, we’ll check the documents and start reviewing all the applications. Usually, if one is short-listed for the interview itself, the interview slot will be arranged with the candidate, either face-to-face or through Skype with—it could be faculty members, it could senior administrators like myself. It could also be alumni. It really depends on which part of the world they are at. After the interview itself, the entire application will be put to the board of selection where the Vice Dean, the Deanery, the head of departments, ourselves, senior administrators will sit down to decide whether the person is in or out or with scholarship or without scholarship and things like that. So, it does take a bit of time. Some people, if they are clearly good candidates they are accepted quite quickly. Some people, they may be wait-listed, so we may take some time to get back to them.

Darren: Got it. So, if someone applies earlier. Let’s say that someone hears this podcast and applies tomorrow, would they hear back sooner than someone who applied, say 30th of January?

Ms. Chua: I would say that the chances are “yes,” but again it all depends on their profile. So, if it’s a clear good candidate, someone we really want in the program, then they’ll hear back very fast from us. However, if the person’s profile is quite mediocre as compared to a person who applies on the 30th of January, the guy who applies later may hear back from us first. But we try to be fair in terms of reviewing and in terms of getting back to the applicants.

Darren: Okay, I see, so it usually will take roughly 8 weeks or 12 weeks?

Ms. Chua: About 8 weeks, yeah.

Darren: 8 weeks. Okay.

Ms. Chua: 4 weeks to be short-listed for the interview and depending on 2-4 weeks after the interview to be offered a place.

Darren: Fantastic. Okay. And I know you mentioned scholarships and I’m sure a lot of ears perked up for that. I noticed on the site that you said scholarship candidates should apply by end of round one to be considered.

Ms. Chua: Right.

Darren: Now, is there a separate scholarship application process or are scholarships awarded along with the application at the same time?

Ms. Chua: It really depends again. So, I would say that we try to make the scholarships available at the time that we offer the candidates. However, some of the scholarship decisions may also come later because we have to assess the whole application cohort.

Darren: Yes.

Ms. Chua: So, it really depends, but I would say that if you are a clear good scholarship recipient than we may offer either quarter or half or three quarters or full. However, I would always advise our applicants to take scholarships as a bonus, because getting into the NUS MBA is extremely competitive and one has to be confident that the return on investment for the NUS MBA will come. You guys will be there someday, because the thing is that if you are good enough to get into the NUS MBA, then you must be of a certain caliber. And if you are going to continue waiting for scholarships and you may not even start on any MBA program, let alone the NUS MBA program.

Darren: Yeah, first step is to get in, right? Then worry about scholarships.

Ms. Chua: Yeah, scholarships should always be a bonus.

Darren: Yeah, you mentioned a strong scholarship candidate. Can you unpack that a little bit? What a strong scholarship candidate would be?

Ms. Chua: Right, so we are looking for well-rounded individuals. We are of course looking at their academic qualifications, we are looking at the university they come from, the GPA that they’ve obtained. We’re also looking at GMAT scores. I would say that GMAT scores, we are not looking at any minimum GMAT score. Basically, we are looking at the overall profile, so even though the average GMAT is 658, but if you are Bill Gates and you come into a 620, we’re not going to penalize you on that.

Darren: Yeah.

Ms. Chua: But of course, the thing is that if you fall short on certain areas, then the GMAT is a helpful way to make up for your shortcomings. So, we are looking for candidates with good career trajectory; so at least two years of work experience even though the average would be five years of work experience. So, in case you come in, say two or three years of work experience, it’s best that there is a strong case supporting you. Either you’re a young team leader or you’re a young entrepreneur or you have an extremely high GMAT score with good academic qualifications and things like. For those people who’s main language is not English, they also have to take TOEFL OR IELTS.

Darren: Do you prefer the TOEFL to the IELTS or the IELTS to TOEFL?

Ms. Chua: We have no preference, although the Chinese always tells us that the IELTS will be a little easier to score on. So, we’re looking at scores of 620, 260 or 100 for the TOEFL and IELTS at least 6.5 onwards.

We are also looking for candidates who are active in their lives, in terms of university life, maybe they have some extra curricular activities and in terms of in working life, maybe they’re still taking part in some professional clubs or doing some CSR, things like that.

Darren: Okay, what would you say to a candidate who is younger, maybe has less than the average years of work experience, maybe say three or four but works in an industry or job function where he or she hasn’t been able to get that management experience yet—hasn’t been given that opportunity to lead a team? Would you still encourage them to apply?

Ms. Chua: I may encourage them to apply now just to get their lead, but I would also advise them to probably look at embarking on the MBA maybe one or two or three years from now and in the meantime maybe try to get some international experience or try to develop other aspects of their life. They could also start an online business to show that they are enterprising, they can take up leadership in, I would say, voluntary organizations or something like that.

Darren: Got it. So, just to sum up what we’ve talked about, you’re really looking for candidates who are strong academically, who have strong undergraduate performance, strong GMATS and who have shown career progression, who have international experience, if possible—

Ms. Chua: Yes.

Darren: And who make an impact in their community. That’s my interpretation of what you’ve said. Is that right? Those qualities?

Ms. Chua: Yeah, those who have leadership qualities, who are enterprising, if possible and people who have special talents in music, in sports. So, we want people who are unique, who can learn from the NUS MBA as well as contribute to the NUS MBA and the NUS business school community.

Darren: Okay, great. That is fantastic. I think that this is extremely valuable information and thank you for sharing so candidly what you’re looking for in admissions, your career services and so forth. In terms of—for candidates who are interested in—maybe they can’t visit the school like you mentioned that’d be the best thing to do, but maybe they are not able to do so. What is the second best way they can learn about NUS and meet students and talk to students or talk to faculty? How could they do that?

Ms. Chua: I would say the most important thing is to contact us and make sure that we know that they exist. We do have alumni as well as faculty who are located in different cities around the world. Our faculty do visit those cities sometimes as well and we, the administrators, do go to market the NUS MBA quite aggressively. So, while we are in those cities, whether we are with our alumni or our faculty members, or with us, we can always meet up to talk more about the program. They can also read our blog. They can also request for a student ambassador to get in touch with them. So, we usually try to match student ambassadors to potential applicants in terms of nationality or industry or job functions or what they aspire to be, right?

Darren: And they can get in touch with these student ambassadors through the blog?

Ms. Chua: Well I would say the—

Darren: Through the student blog or through contacting the office?

Ms. Chua: Through contacting the office—

Darren: Got it.

Ms. Chua: Because the thing is that we are also quite careful about who we give the contacts of our alumni as well as our student ambassadors to. So, I would say that we would do some preliminary check to make sure that this person has fulfilled most of the criteria and would be a potential applicant for the NUS MBA.

Darren: Got it. So, I will be sure to link to the student blog and your contact information, your office’s contact information and the show notes. This has been fantastic. Is there anything else you would like to say about the NUS MBA? Any question I didn’t ask that I should have asked?

Ms. Chua: I guess there are so many things to know about the NUS MBA. I would advise people don’t wait to apply. Apply as soon as possible, because even though you may not have your GMAT or your TOEFL or your IELTS, at least once you apply we know that you exist and our team will follow up closely with you to ensure that your application goes through, right?

Darren: Okay, yeah and actually that reminds me of one more question I had which was, there’s an emphasis on applying early for scholarship funding and for giving yourself a good chance. Well, what about candidates who are applying in Round 2? Are their chances severely less than Round 1 candidates?

Ms. Chua: I would say, “yes” to some extent because some of the seats and some of the scholarships have been taken out by the Round 1 candidates, especially the scholarships. Also, people applying in Round 1 show the admissions team that they are better prepared for the MBA, they would have given this some thought and apply early and are very serious about getting in.

Of course, the thing is that if you are an exceptional candidate who applied in Round 2 and we really want you, we may still offer you a scholarship. But, of course the thing is there are the internal scholarships that we have control over and the external scholarships that are offered by other organizations, which we have to adhere to the deadlines. So, we’ll see what we can do to get in the best students from around the world.

Darren: There’s no quota for round one or round two is there?

Ms. Chua: There’s no quota for round one or round two—it’s the same. There’s no quote for the number of students that we take. Currently, we’re looking at about 100 full-time and you know, about 60-80 part-time as well as a handful of double-degree candidates. However, if we see a lot of good applicants that year, we would not mind increasing our intake.

Darren: Got it. Got it. Thank you so much, Ms. Chua for your time and for your insights about the program and I really hope we can do this again next year and see what has changed with the NUS MBA as well. So, thank you much for your time—

Ms. Chua: Thank you very much, Darren.

Darren: Okay, thank you and we’ll talk to you soon.

Ms. Chua: Sure, thank you.


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