The Consortium

A full ride to business school?! How can anyone not be intrigued by this idea?


The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management is an organization which bills itself as the nation's largest diversity network dating back to 1966. Fellowship recipients receive a FULL two year Fellowship to attend one of 20 membership institutions: founded at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, now includes the University of California, Berkeley; the University of California, Los Angeles; Carnegie Mellon University; Cornell University; Dartmouth College; Emory University; Georgetown University; Indiana University-Bloomington; the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; New York University; The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the University of Rochester; the University of Southern California; The University of Texas at Austin; the University of Virginia; the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Yale University; Rice University and as of July 1, 2018, The University of Washington.


Since its inception, nearly $390m in fellowships have been awarded. The fellowship funding is a pool of funds from member schools.


Similar to the Common Application for undergraduate studies, the Consortium application process is streamlined and allows candidates to apply at a reduced cost. Applicants can apply to up to 6 member schools for the low fee of $300 using the streamlined application. To give you context, most single school MBA applications are $200 each. Your letters of recommendation, test scores and more are input only once and you can then focus on composing your unique school essays and short answers.


Additionally, the Consortium provides fellowship recipients with its incredible Orientation Program (OP) which is a 5 day networking and recruiting event where some MBA students receive internship offers BEFORE stepping foot onto their MBA campus!


So how can you have a chance to attend business school with no debt? Keep reading.


The Consortium’s mission is: to enhance diversity and inclusion in global business education and leadership by striving to reduce the significant underrepresentation of African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans in both our Member Schools’ enrollments and the ranks of global management across the following sectors: For-profit corporations, Nonprofit corporations, Government agencies and contractors, and Entrepreneurial ventures in both for-profit and nonprofit environments.


If you have demonstrated a commitment (read: long-term) to their mission you should apply!!!


A big thing to note is that the Consortium is NOT only for applicants of color! Hands down the majority of recipients and recipients are people of color, but according to the 2017 annual report, 10% of the class of 2019 is Caucasian. The key takeaway here is that anyone who has done work which demonstrates a commitment to the mission is eligible to apply and be considered for the fellowship. This may include work, volunteering and other efforts to fulfill the mission. I jumped on a few conference calls throughout the application process and learned and heard from non-minority applicants and fellowship recipients.


So how does one apply?


The first thing to note is that there are 2 rounds of Consortium applications, Round 1 requires submission by October and Round 2 (what I did) requires submission by the first week of January.


It is also really important to note that you are applying for admission to MBA programs. It is only AFTER you receive admission to a program that you will be assessed for the Consortium membership. You cannot receive the Consortium membership without being admitted to an MBA program first. The steps are as follows:


  • First, you will need 3 recommenders:

    • 2 will be the traditional recommenders whose letters will be seen by all the schools you apply to. Their letters of recommendation should offer compelling reasons and evidence that you are an ideal MBA candidate.

    • Your third recommender will be someone who can directly speak to your commitment to the mission of the Consortium. Schools you apply to do NOT see this letter of recommendation. It is only viewed by the Consortium to determine if you fulfill the mission (see how important it is to them?) AFTER you have been admitted to a school and are now officially a candidate for the full two-year fellowship.

  • Second, you will need to write 2 essays (in addition to each programs unique essay(s).)

    • The first is a general essay which will be seen by all the schools you apply to which asks many of the primary principle questions: why an MBA, why now, what are your short and long-term goals.

    • The second essay will NOT be seen by schools you apply to and again is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your commitment to the Consortium’s mission so they can evaluate your candidacy for the fellowship.

      • During a Consortium call I remember hearing it is best to break it down into three sections:

        • How you fulfilled the mission before business school; 

        • How you will continue to fulfill the mission during business school and; 

        • What you will do to fulfill the mission after business school.

  • Third, you will need to narrow down the schools you are applying to and rank them

    • You have 20 to choose from but can ONLY choose a maximum of 6. You can certainly select fewer schools. Your completed application will be sent to EVERY school you apply to

    • The ranking becomes important when it comes to the MBA 'draft.' In order of preference of highest to lowest, you must rank each of the programs you applied to. More on why in a moment.

  • Fourth, you must complete each school specific essay and/or short answer

    • Yes, many programs have similar prompts, but make sure you submit the right school's essay! Remember they all see the first general essay (NOT the mission essay), but not every school takes the time to read it. Michigan explicitly asks candidates not to regurgitate their Consortium essay, but rather to build on what they wrote.

  • Fifth, you should make sure everything is tight- test scores and transcript uploads should be all set

    • Don't wait until the deadline to double check everything before sending to avoid technical issues.

  • Sixth, you submit and hit send! 

    • Be sure to say thanks to everyone who helped you along the way!


Check out the most recent breakdown of the Class of 2019 as per the Consortium's 2017 annual report. 35% of applicants were offered the fellowship and the organization is far more balanced than most MBA programs when it comes to female and male applicants.


Some questions I've seen include the following:


  • Can you find out if you get school admission before you find out if you will receive the Consortium Fellowship?

    • Yes in fact since your admission to the Consortium is contingent on being admitted to an MBA program, most students find out they are admitted BEFORE they find out about funding. Especially because those who apply R1 have to wait until March to know about the fellowship, they may be putting down multiple deposits to hedge their bets between finding out about admission in December and the official Consortium membership notification in March.

  • So what is the "draft"?

    • The draft (Usually occurs the 2nd week of March, but decisions will be officially released to applicants about 10 days later as per official Consortium communication) is when adcoms will meet and review all ADMITTED candidates who fulfill the Consortium mission and determine whether they will receive the fellowship. This is where things can get interesting:

      • For example, if you were BOTH admitted to Yale AND the Consortium believes you fulfill the mission, THEN on March 13th Yale would have the opportunity to offer you the fellowship. This is where ranking comes into play, if you ranked Yale 1st you will likely be all set, BUT if you ranked them second or third, even though you have admission to the program, you will have to see if the other programs you ranked higher pass on providing you with the fellowship for Yale to even have the option of providing you the fellowship. They may decide not to offer you the fellowship if you ranked them low as an FYI. 

        • Rumor has it that apparently UC Berkeley really does NOT like not being ranked number 1.

  • So you can be in a situation where you have admission to an MBA program, but not the Consortium fellowship?

    • Yep, you may be a Yale admit, but have to pay full price if you opt not to attend a school you ranked higher that offered you the fellowship. It is really important to note that I received a full merit scholarship to attend a lower ranked school before ever hearing back about the Consortium. Schools which really want to sway you to attend can offer you other sources of funding to cover the cost of attendance.

  • Can you change your ranking after submission?

    • From what I've read no- I am certainly regretting my first choice selection because they never even offered me an interview (Received A Ding). 

  • What if you receive a merit fellowship to a school?

    • You can certainly be offered a merit scholarship to a program that is separate and apart from the Consortium fellowship- congrats to you! Then you have many options to avoid going deep into MBA debt.

  • What about deciding to attend a non-Consortium school even after getting the fellowship?

    • You are able to be a member of the Consortium (and receive the great access and benefits of membership) even if you opt to attend a non-member school. The money you were awarded is returned to the pool but does not transfer to another applicant. To further clarify: It has been pointed out that one of the great benefits of the Consortium is they will cover the cost associated with OP if you attend a member school. If you decide to attend a non-member school, but to participate in OP you are responsible for the associated costs which will exceed over $1k when you factor in flight, 5 days in a hotel, food and other expenses.

  • What if I am awarded the fellowship to my 1st choice, but really want to attend my 2nd choice?

    • Unfortunately, you are SOL, the fellowship is non-transferable. This is ultimately what happened with me. The school which I ranked higher offered me the fellowship, but I preferred to attend the school I had ranked right below it. Ultimately all worked out really well and I declined the offer of admission from the higher ranked school to attend School X which offered me a full Forté fellowship. 

  • How soon will I hear back about the fellowship?

    • This is fascinating! From what I understand, even though there are 2 rounds of applications for the Consortium (R1 and R2), the draft is only held in March so R1 admits have been waiting for months to know if they need to take out loans or use savings to pay for their MBAs! Some applicants put down multiple deposits at programs to hold their place- hoping they get the Consortium fellowship.

  • What if my GMAT is below the average/median/80% range?

    • If you believe you fulfill the mission you should still apply! As I note in the GMAT section, your test score is merely one part of your application. You still have essays, recommendations and other components to your general application to demonstrate you are a high caliber candidate. On forums, I have seen candidates with scores from a wide variety gain admission to their Consortium schools.

  • What if I am waitlisted at my 1st choice?

    • Then the 2nd choice school you listed can offer you the fellowship as you are TECHNICALLY not admitted to the first. For example, you may be waitlisted at a school you ranked higher than the school which ultimately offers you the Consortium fellowship.