Get the Scoop on the Stanford MSx Program

Stanford MsX program

Are you a mid-career professional seeking a transformational experience as fast as possible? The Stanford MSx program may provide that career boost you need. As an accelerated master’s program, you’ll spend one year reflecting, connecting, and refining your professional goals.

“There is only one Stanford and only one Silicon Valley,” says an MSx student. “I came to the GSB with a question of how we can merge tech with human connection.”

Representatives from the Stanford MSx program spoke with John A. Byrne, founder of Poets & Quants, about the program’s merits. Here we review the facts and insights into the program with you.

Curious about your chances of getting into a top program like Stanford Graduate School of Business? Contact us to talk strategy with a free 15-minute advising session with an SBC Principal Consultant. 

Stanford MsX program

Overview of Stanford MSx

The Stanford MSx program is a Master of Science in Management for Experienced Leaders, who have a minimum of 8 years of work experience. It is a one-year immersive, residential program where students have access to the University’s seven schools (e.g., engineering, education) and the new school of sustainability, opening soon.  The MBA and MSx have a common application. 

Created for mid-career professionals, MSx enrolls about 80 students per cohort. The campus is in the heart of Silicon Valley, perhaps the most dynamic and exciting economy in the world.

“Stanford is a magnetic field that attracts the best of the best talent from around the world,” shared a recent alum of the Stanford MSx program. “We’re all in it together. The vested interest in the tribe in making everyone successful is a hallmark of the Stanford MSx program.”

A current MSx student wrote to SBC and clarified, “MSx is more than 1 year technically. MSx is 4 academic quarters compared to MBA’s 6 academic quarters (MBAs have an optional additional quarter for internship). Therefore, MSx makes perfect sense for people with 8+ years of experience since they don’t need to do internships; the cohort is fairly senior (compared to MBAs), which elevates the richness of class and group learning.”

Upcoming Program Deadlines for 2023-2024

Round 1 Joint with MBA

Application due: September 12, 2023
Decision released: December 7, 2023

Round 1 MSx Only 

Application due: October 12, 2023
Decision released: December 7, 2023

Round 2 MSx only

Application due: January 4, 2024
Decision released: March 28, 2024

Round 2 Joint with MBA

Application due: January 4, 2024
Decision released: March 28, 2024

Round 3 MSx only

Application due: February 15, 2024
Decision released: March 28, 2024

Stanford MSx Application Essay Prompts

  1. What matters most to you, and why? For this essay, we would like you to reflect deeply and write from the heart. Once you have identified what matters most to you, help us understand why. You might consider, for example, what makes this so important to you? What people, insights, or experiences have shaped your perspectives?
  2. Why Stanford MSx, and why now? Please describe your aspirations and how your Stanford MSx experience will help you realize them. Why is this the right time for you to pursue your master’s degree at Stanford GSB?


Both essays combined may not exceed 1,050 words. We recommend up to 650 words for Essay A and up to 400 words for Essay B. We often find effective essays written in far fewer words.

Career Aspirations Short Answer Question (required)

Tell us about what you aspire to do in your career. How will the Stanford MSx Program, combined with your experience, education or background, help you achieve your career goals? Be specific. (up to 1,200 characters, approximately 200 word limit)

Optional Short-Answer Questions

The required essays shed light on who you are and how you imagine Stanford will help you achieve your aspirations. We are also interested in learning about the things you have done that are most meaningful to you. In this section, we provide an optional opportunity to go beyond your resume to discuss some of your contributions more fully. What do we mean by “optional?” We truly mean you have the opportunity to choose. In evaluating your application, we want to know who you are, what you have done, and how your background may have influenced your experiences. If you feel that you’ve already addressed these questions well in other areas of the application, congratulations, you are done! If not, feel free to use this opportunity to tell us more by answering one or both questions.

Do not include your short-answer response in your essays upload; use the text boxes provided in the application.

Optional Short-Answer Questions

Optional Question 1: Think about times you’ve created a positive impact, whether in professional, extracurricular, academic, or other settings. What was your impact? What made it significant to you or to others? You are welcome to share up to three examples. (Up to 1200 characters, approximately 200 words, for each example)

Optional Question 2Tell us about a time within the last three years when your background influenced your participation at work or community. (up to 1100 characters, approximately 180 words)

Qualities of Exceptional Essays

Exceptional essays are authentic: Write about what you are compelled to tell us, not what you believe the admission committee wants to hear. In addition, they:

  • Indicate self-awareness and acknowledge areas for growth opportunities
  • Express an understanding of your effect on others
  • Demonstrate how you want to maximize your impact on the world
  • Showcase your unique worldview and goals by being personal, specific, and honest
  • Detail how you see the MSx Program helping you achieve your goals and how you will leverage your year at Stanford

Additional Information (Optional)

The application provides an additional opportunity for you to share any other pertinent information not otherwise captured in your application. You might use this opportunity to:

  • Describe the circumstances affecting academic or work performance
  • Explain why you are not using a current supervisor as a reference
  • Address an academic suspension or expulsion

Stanford MSx Acceptance Rate

Acceptance rates are almost always more generous in one-year programs as well. Stanford’s MSx program, a great option for ‘older’ professionals aged 30 to 34, accepts about 14.17% of its applicants. That contrasts with the 6.1% acceptance rate for its two-year program.

Program and Coursework Design

The core curriculum educates on business fundamentals, and half of the program is customizable. Students are encouraged to sample widely, try everything, and then think of one or two areas to dive deep.

As a result, students become completely engaged with this fully immersive program. “I’m currently not juggling another job. I can be really all-in and that’s accelerated the learning and given me the opportunity to say yes more than I would have otherwise,” said MSx student Kate French.

There are also many different community-building activities for students, such as Indian and Japan night, as well as immersive trips to New York, Washington DC, etc., where participants forge life-long relationships. 

As one alum explained, it’s like, “Getting a PhD in self awareness and it’s probably the last time in your life—in your mid 30s or 40s—where you can make lifelong friends.”

Design thinking, machine learning, artificial intelligence, data analytics are among the course topics available. New Venture Strategy is a course taught by a famous trio of teachers. Experiential classes are abundant. Cardinal Ventures or DormRoom courses are incubator courses. “Evidence-based life design” is the power of each of the MSx courses, shared by a recent alum.   

MSx offers Startup Garage, Lean LaunchPad, TechX, and many more entrepreneurial classes. For example, Startup Garage is an iconic course at Stanford for anyone wanting to experience entrepreneurship. MsX educates on a combination of design thinking and business management principles. Doordash started out of a Startup Garage course. 

Interpersonal Dynamics (or touchy-feely) is also a well-known class that MSx students take with MBA students. Ten people sit in a circle talking about thoughts and emotions–about self and how others think of you. Students learn many things about life and work. 

Fun Fact: 60% of students at MSx have children.

Origin of the Program

It’s a strategic priority at Stanford to have an impact beyond the core MBA program. Stanford wants to spread its knowledge more widely, including for mid-career executives, and more thoughtfully than its shorter Exec Education programs. MSx has been around for 60 years and has always been part of the GSB. It started as the Sloan program, and students still refer to it as Sloan Fellows.


Class Composition

Profile of MSx class of 2024:
Total Admits: 73
Total applications: 515
Admit rate: 14.17%
Average GMAT: 727
Average GRE: 163 (Q), 163, (V)
Average EA: 157
Average experience: 13.3 years
Average age: 36

ROI of Stanford MSx

It’s worth noting that the opportunity costs are higher for mid-career professionals, as many have young families. It’s one year of focusing on your career: accelerating your career or transitioning to a new path, such as entrepreneurship.

Students can expect to receive a top-notch education and an incredible cohort of classmates, along with a broader set of people at the GSB to learn from, network, and stay in touch with lifelong. As a highly collaborative school, MSx students mix with students from all three programs—MBA, Ph.D., and MSx—and support each other through group work and student-led activities.

The ‘Success for All’ Ethos

As student Kate French shared, “I had on-the-ground experience, but my skills were not seen as transferable. I wanted to expand my horizons, get business acumen and have the opportunity to meet a large number of people. The beauty of the program is that your focus changes. You may get an idea of what you may want initially, but then you can expand more broadly.

“The program has exceeded my expectations. I have increased confidence through opportunities to constantly meet new people. There is constantly an opportunity to know people on a deeper level and those people want to get to know you.”

“The program has broadened what I thought was possible. I didn’t come here to be an entrepreneur. What an entrepreneur is a wide range of things. I realized I have been involved in start-up-like environments. The entrepreneurial possibility is infectious, not overwhelming, but it is empowering and exciting. We will succeed together and everyone wants others to succeed as well.”

Likewise, Steven Troung, an MSx graduate, said, “Stanford gave me the confidence to embrace authentic leadership and bring that into my current career role.”

Across the interviewees from the MSx program, it’s clear that they didn’t just get an education. The experience is truly transformative. “Every cohort is 75-85, so after one year, you really know those people so well and become lifelong friends,” Troung said. “Think of the Msx program as Stanford, not just a business school. You will find the most inspiring people that will help you empower and achieve your dreams.”

For guidance on related programs such as the Executive MBA, please see our EMBA overview and our Wharton EMBA insider tips.


Stacy Blackman Consulting offers multiple services to meet your MBA application needs, from our All-In Partnership to hourly help reviewing your MBA resume. Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant. Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot of the caliber of the AdCom expertise on our team.

This post has been updated with new information for the 2023-24 application season. 


(323) 934-3936

Latest Blog Post

Breaking Down 5 MBA Admissions Myths

Business school hopefuls, particularly those targeting elite programs, often fall prey to certain admissions myths circulating the interwebs. Today, we’re going to do a little myth-busting of five common misconceptions about the MBA application ...