Wharton Wants Penn English Majors to Apply for an MBA

A new deferred admissions option at the business school targets liberal arts undergrads.

Penn campus

Huntsman Hall.

Penn liberal arts majors looking to switch gears after graduation have a new enticing option. On Wednesday, the Wharton School announced the Moelis Advance Access Program, a new initiative that gives Penn seniors the chance to gain admission to the prestigious business schools, well before the average MBA applicant gets in.

And there’s a financial aid twist to the initiative, which exists because of a $10 million gift from Wharton alumni Ken Moelis and Julie Taffet Moelis. Students accepted into the new program will be considered for a $10,000 fellowship each year during the two-year full-time MBA program.

Admitted students must also enter the workforce for two to four years after graduation before returning to get the MBA. During the academic hiatus, the program will give students access to a “strong pre-MBA community,” through mentoring, peer support and professional development. And they’re free (and actually encouraged) to enter fields that aren’t directly correlated to what they might study at Wharton.

So why has the school introduced this option? The development signals Wharton’s desire to identify and bring in highly qualified students who can expand the traditional parameters of a business education. The move follows a trend at medical schools that have altered admissions requirements to attract undergrads who weren’t on the traditional pre-med path. The decision was a strategy to develop more well-rounded physicians with a wide range of interests. The program is also a way for the institution to be inclusive of students with different social values (like someone working in the non-profit world) who might not have considered an MBA-degree because of financial constraints.

“In my personal experience as a submatric students, and now as CEO of a firm that recruits top MBAs from across the country, it is clear that ambitious students with unqiue aspirations do not always benefit from the one-size-fits-all track for MBAs,” said Ken Moelis. “Julie and I are excited to unlock the potential of these students – to help them consider an expanded view of the fields that need their leadership and gain valuable, practical experience after completing their undergraduate degree and before starting their MBA.”

Wharton dean Geoffrey Garrett said the program helps Wharton adapt and reimagine its Submatriculation Program. The new route “nurtures exploration, strategic risk-taking, and discovery, and enables our students to use their business education to change the world,” Garrett said.

Students entering their senior year in fall 2017 will be the first class with the opportunity to apply. About 10 students will be admitted. Wharton says it has plans to eventually open up the program to undergraduates at other institutions around the world.

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