Kellogg MBA Program: Get the Inside Scoop

Kellogg MBA program

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management is a top-choice program for many SBC clients. That’s why we’re thrilled to have Beth, the former director of full-time admissions for Kellogg, on our MBA consulting team. Today, we’ll spill all the deets on Kellogg’s curriculum, culture, and admissions practices that Beth shared previously on the B-Schooled podcast. As someone who led the team responsible for reading applications, interviewing candidates, and making admit decisions for the two-year, one-year, MMM, and JD-MBA programs, there’s no one better to shed light on what it takes to get into the Kellogg MBA program.

Curious about your chances of getting into a top B-school? Contact us to talk strategy with a free 15-minute advising session with an SBC Principal Consultant.

Kellogg MBA program

Questions and answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Q: What makes Kellogg unique overall?

Kellogg differs from other schools because it offers multiple programs to get an MBA. First, you have the traditional two-year program with about 475-500 students. But then, for over 50 years, Kellogg has had a one-year program that many people don’t know about. Or they imagine it’s an accelerated program, which it’s not.

It’s more intended for people who got a business degree in undergrad and have had experience with business classes like statistics, economics, and marketing operations, and they want to accelerate directly into the electives. They don’t want to go back to 101-level courses.

The one-year class is interesting. It’s about 130 people and starts in June, so they have that nice Chicago summer together as a smaller cohort. And then the two-year class returns and it’s all folded together in the fall.

The MMM is a cohort of 60, and if you talk to an alum who’s a decade out of school, they remember it as an engineering program. But in 2014, Kellogg revamped the entire curriculum, and it’s now a dual degree with the Siegel Design Institute at Northwestern. It’s fantastic for people who want to focus on design thinking skills and attracts people from all different backgrounds—consulting, tech, healthcare, and more.

The three-year combined JD-MBA is much smaller—usually around 25 people—and that’s in conjunction with the Pritzker School of Law. So, all these students are together in the same classrooms, learning from the same professors and doing group projects.

Then there’s the new MBAi program that explores how artificial intelligence and machine learning are exploding right now in the business world. The programs may start on different schedules, but you get all these different perspectives and backgrounds mixed together during your time at Kellogg.

Q: Are there any misconceptions about the Kellogg MBA program you want to clear up?

The persistent misconception is that Kellogg is primarily a marketing school. There are so many areas you can pursue! Kellogg has great resources for entrepreneurs, social impact, health care, real estate, etc. The most significant job placement out of Kellogg right now is consulting, with almost 40% of the class. Next, roughly 26% went into tech jobs, and only 8% went into traditional CPG roles.

Several schools in the top 10 are viewed as “the finance schools,” but in working with applicants over the years, some people find it very strategic to apply to Kellogg to pursue finance or private equity. Since it’s a smaller aspect of the program, they get lots of attention from professors, and top firms from across the country still come to recruit at Kellogg. And the alumni network is heavily engaged with finance.

Kellogg MBA program

The final misperception would frequently be related to geography. Perhaps there’s an idea that if you come to Chicago for business school, that’s where you’ll land long-term. But a big percentage of Kellogg’s grads go to New York and California. About 21% of 2022 graduates went to the East Coast, and 32% went to the West Coast.

Q: How does the Kellogg Admissions Committee assess applicants?

The admissions team reviews applicants holistically. They’re going to look at your resume to see your career progression. Have you gotten a couple of promotions? Are you on track or ahead of your peers in terms of advancement? They are going to consider your career goals and your career focus. Do you have an idea in mind of where you’re headed?

It’s never a contract. You don’t have to achieve that goal ten years down the road. But they want to make sure you’ve thought about why you want an MBA and how Kellogg will help launch you in the direction you’re headed.

They’re also going to be looking for interpersonal skills. We’ve talked about how there’s a lot of leadership, teamwork, and collaboration happening in the Kellogg MBA program. You may already bring those skills, as demonstrated through sports teams or consulting.

Or maybe you’re someone at the other end of the spectrum saying, “I haven’t had that experience. And that’s exactly why Kellogg is right for me because I want to build those skills and experiences.”

They’re looking for a strong intellect through your grades and test scores. And they’re looking for that passion for Kellogg, really the fit. Have you done your research into the program? Do you seem genuinely interested in Kellogg as your top choice school?

Q: What is the Kellogg AdCom looking for in the MBA essays?

I advise clients to brainstorm meaningful stories and examples the admissions committee cannot see from their resumes. So, talk about a few experiences with family, friends, or personal struggles that shaped you into who you are today. This is where people often write about their parents’ influence, upbringing, or childhood experience. This is an essay that should be unique and authentic for each applicant. And my biggest challenge with clients about the essays is nudging them to open up and get more personal.

Read SBC’s expert tips for the 2023-2024 Kellogg MBA essay questions

And the video questions?

As of last season, applicants knew two of the video questions in advance and got one surprise question. Kellogg’s been tweaking the questions a bit each cycle, and last year, the first question was to introduce yourself. We don’t know what the video questions are this year because they will only appear after applicants submit all their other materials and payment.

If Kellogg asks applicants to introduce themselves this season, my advice is: Don’t repeat your resume.

Remember, they just read your whole application file. Now, you can breeze through your background to highlight something more personal, fun, or unique. You only have 60 seconds here. So, just a couple of nuggets that might be memorable about your interests would fill the bill of “introduce yourself.”

Since there isn’t a written essay question that asks, “Why Kellogg?” the video essay is often a good place to display your depth of research into the program. You can talk about how you plan to get involved, your career goals, and why Kellogg is the ideal program for you.

I know the videos create stress for the applicants, but they’re a great feature for the AdCom. You spend 15-20 minutes reading about a person on paper, and there’s just something humanizing about watching the videos. And the videos are always reviewed last, so they’re not a deal breaker if you cough, if a cat jumps onto your keyboard (which is a true story), or if you get tongue-tied on a word. Keep going, record your videos confidently, and realize that they are just part of what the AdCom at the Kellogg MBA program is learning about you.

Kellogg MBA program

Q: Do you have any tips or insights about the Kellogg interview process?

Kellogg handles interviews differently from most other top business schools in that they try to interview almost everyone. People should expect a behavioral interview with many of the standard questions to get more clarity about why an MBA, why Kellogg, your career to date, and your career goals.

And the interview should be very conversational. It’s a chance to explain yourself and your background in more detail than the written materials. Often, they’re checking for maturity, your presence, and the elusive fit vibe. Basically, that means they’re thinking, would you be a good teammate?

If someone has an off day and thinks they tanked their interview, it won’t necessarily ruin their chances. Again, Kellogg reviews applications holistically. So, strong written materials, a great resume, solid essay responses, positive letters of recommendation—all those things will be factored in.

The impact if you have a “bad” interview might be different at Kellogg than other programs because they are seeing hundreds more interview reports than other schools. The interview is truly just one part of the review process.

Listen to Beth and Erika’s conversation on B-Schooled Podcast #86: Spotlight on Kellogg School of Management

Q: What do students do outside of class for fun?

To have the full Kellogg experience, you’re going to be heavily engaged in student clubs. Students partner with the administration across the board in leadership roles. There are over 100 student clubs, and students form new clubs each year. You’ll find professional clubs for people looking to go into consulting, marketing, data analytics, finance, FinTech, real estate, etc. All those professional readiness recruiting clubs are very popular.

There are also geographic clubs, like the Africa Club, the Canada Club, and the European Business Club. And then there are the affinity clubs, such as Pride at Kellogg, the Black Management Association, the Veterans Association, the Women’s Business Association, and the Hispanic Business Association. And then, of course, you have the social clubs, like sports and fitness, things for foodies, the wine club, and the cleverly-named the Brew and Q Club for people who like beers and barbecue.

But I also really like the conference schedule that Kellogg students put on. There’s the healthcare conference, the Black Management Association conference, the real estate conference, and the marketing conference. Students gain so much leadership experience and real-world knowledge from the multiple leadership roles that they take on. It’s such an opportunity to grow as an individual, to make mistakes and learn from them without any devastating consequences.

Beyond the campus, there’s a whole host of leisure and entertainment possibilities. Kellogg is in Evanston, directly on Lake Michigan, with beaches for sailing and a running biking path along the lakefront with the Northwestern campus.

Evanston has a college town vibe, many coffee shops, great restaurants, and easily walkable. But 30 minutes away is downtown Chicago. For students who want to go to world-class museums, out to Michelin-star restaurants, attend a professional sports event, or see major concerts, all of that is available in Chicago.

Q: What advice would you give anybody applying to the Kellogg MBA program this year?

I would advise applicants to reach out to current students they may know or connect with them via Kellogg’s listing of club leadership online. Do your research and visit the campus if possible. And if you can’t visit, be sure to look at their schedule of live virtual events hosted by different clubs on campus.

You can get more insight from the admissions committee about what they’re looking for in applicants. Maybe you’re interested in a particular perspective, like an international student panel or the women’s in business panel, or you’d like to hear from an alum in your field. But my advice is to talk to some real-life people in the Kellogg community to get yourself up to speed.

Thank you, Beth, for sharing your insights into the Kellogg MBA program and its many strengths! To learn more about the program, please visit the Kellogg School of Management website


Stacy Blackman Consulting offers multiple services to meet your needs, from our All-In Partnership to test prep to hourly help with targeted tasks. Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant. Here’s a snapshot of the caliber of expertise on our SBC team.

Stacy Blackman

SBC’s star-studded consultant team is unparalleled. Our clients benefit from current intelligence that we receive from the former MBA Admissions Officers from Kellogg, Booth and every elite business program in the US and Europe.  These MBA Admissions Officers have chosen to work exclusively with SBC.

Just two of the many superstars on the SBC team:
Meet Beth who held the position of Director of Admissions for Kellogg’s Full Time MBA program selecting candidates for the 2-year, 1-year, MMM and JD MBA programs.

Meet Kim, who was an Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Chicago Booth.

Tap into this inside knowledge for your MBA applications by requesting a consultation.


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