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How to Get into UPenn’s Jerome Fisher Management & Technology Program

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UPenn’s Management & Technology (M&T) program is a dual-degree program, offering students a chance to experience both the business acumen of Wharton and the cutting edge research of Penn’s Engineering school. Admissions to the program is incredibly competitive, and for good reason, as graduates often go on to have amazing careers in a wide variety of fields. 

In this article, we’re going to break down what exactly the program is, and what it offers. Then, we’re going to cover the application, both what you need to do to apply, and what admissions officers are looking for from applicants. Finally, we’ll go over how to write the essays the program requires, and give examples of M&T essays written by former Ivy Scholars students that worked. Let’s get started!

What is Fisher M&T?

Students in the M&T program are simultaneously enrolled in the Wharton School and the School of Engineering, and earn both a Bachelor of Science in Economics and either a Bachelor of Science in Engineering or a Bachelor of Applied Science at the end of their time at Penn. This program is designed to be finished in four years, and around 85% of students graduate in this timeframe.

The curriculum includes not just offerings from both parent schools, but also M&T specific courses. These cover the overlaps, and provide a truly interdisciplinary look at the connections between business and engineering. 

The program admits fewer than 60 students each year, and works hard to foster a community within the program. Students are encouraged to learn and collaborate together; since they look for students who were heavily engaged in high school, the students in the program are also heavily engaged once they reach Penn’s campus. 

M&T seniors complete a capstone project with a team in the integration lab. The goal of these programs is to combine what students have learned throughout the program into a single culmination, created through a team effort. Select teams are then invited to present their projects at the M&T Summit. While there are many other opportunities for students in the program to get hands-on experience, this one is only available to students in the M&T program.

M&T Application Requirements

When applying to the M&T program, you begin as normal with an application to the University of Pennsylvania via the Common App, and pick the program as your first choice school. You must pick a single-school program (not another of the joint programs UPenn offers) when doing this, due to how competitive admissions is. Most applicants pick either Wharton or the School of Engineering as their second choice school. 

You can apply Early Decision to the M&T program alone, or to Penn as a whole. This means if you are accepted by M&T, you are bound to attend, but if rejected, then your application to Penn is moved into the regular decision application pool, and you are not required to attend if admitted. You can choose to have your entire application be binding ED if you wish; if you do so you are required to attend Penn even if you are rejected by M&T but are admitted by your second choice school. Your second choice program, and whether you apply ED to it, does not impact your chances of admission to the M&T program. There is a slight boost to admissions chances for students who apply to the program ED.

Applications to the M&T program are considered first. This is a separate admissions committee, and uses separate admissions officers. If you are not admitted to M&T, your application is then referred to your second choice program. Being rejected by M&T will not impact your application to this program, and these admissions officers will not see your M&T application materials.

M&T applications require two additional supplemental essays. We cover these in more detail below. 

What M&T Admissions Wants to See

Now you know what the application requires, but what are admissions officers actually looking for from applicants? What traits, skills, or activities set apart a strong application from a weak one? 

The M&T program is looking for academic excellence, extracurricular engagement, passion for both business and technology, and signs of interdisciplinary investigation. Further, they are looking for signs you have already pursued your passions to a high degree. 

The first thing the program looks at is your academic performance. You need a strong academic foundation to succeed in the program, and this is shown through your grades and test scores. We recommend taking math through at least calculus to be ready for this program. While high grades alone are not enough, they are a required component of a successful application (though this is true across the board at top colleges). 

Your extracurricular activities are incredibly important. M&T looks for students who are highly engaged with their schools and communities. Moreover, your best activities should be interdisciplinary. It is not enough to just have activities in engineering and activities in business; the best qualified applicants have activities which combine both. 

For example, one of our students began a business with his friends, then coded and launched a website for that business. Using the website, he helped grow his friend’s company from something local to something international. This is a good example of an extracurricular which combines business acumen with technical savvy, and displays the student’s instincts for both.

This interdisciplinary involvement is what the program is made for. While you can achieve success by participating in activities that relate to business, and others that relate to engineering, the best success comes from combining the passions. 

When choosing a secondary program to apply to, we recommend picking the school that your application best supports. If you have more experience in engineering, then applying to Wharton is less likely to be successful. 

M&T Essays: Examples and Analysis

The M&T program asks for two additional essays. One is on how the M&T program will benefit you, while the other is on leadership. We will provide an example of each, and discuss why these examples worked well. 

Why M&T Example

Explain how you will use the M&T program to explore your interest in business, engineering, and the intersection of the two (400-650 words)

Who would think Houston, the oil capital of the world, would be pioneering the transition to electric vehicles?

While interning with LDR Consulting in Houston during the summer of 2019, I worked on EVolve Houston, a public-private partnership launched by the Mayor of Houston to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through promoting electric vehicles (EVs). I coordinated several working groups to develop an aggressive strategy to implement 30% electrification by 2030.

Specifically, I developed and conducted a workshop, engaging a broad group of stakeholders, for the rapid adoption of EVs in large fleets. My work on research and best practices for initial adoption and long-term viability was crucial to their engagement.

Their commitment would transform Houston’s role from a polluter to a carbon-neutral city. I was challenged with maneuvering the intersection of business, engineering, and sustainable living. Answers to complex engineering challenges are necessarily interdisciplinary and finding technical implementable solutions requires a seamless integration with the business aspects.

I first experienced this convergence during my work with Houston’s METRO, where the key to convincing Houston and METRO officials to build an extension to a bus rapid transit line was to both demonstrate a return on investment through a cost-benefit analysis and to show that the line would provide more equity for economically disadvantaged communities.

The intersection of business and engineering was always a logical avenue, given my love of statistics and math. From an early demonstration of math skills to the development and the creation of a microfinance business in my Montessori middle school, I have always loved analytics and numbers. Through high school, everything from probability to Fourier analysis excited me. Applying my math skills to the engineering side seemed inevitable.

My first true experience with providing financial models to applied engineering concepts came during the EVolve Initiative. While I struggled to prove the financial viability of some fleet EVs, the economics of EVs were always at the forefront of my discussions. Many fleet owners were worried that the additional cost of infrastructure would not provide a positive return on investment, and that profitable EVs were inherently impossible. I had to use statistics analysis and engineering principles to prove otherwise and convert them as early-adopters.

The Jerome Fisher Management and Technology Program allows for fantastic and abundant opportunities to apply large scale resources and research to the disciplines of engineering and business, and to truly expand my horizons. Specifically, as the technology for transportation such as Hyperloop is being transformed and defined over the next decade, I readily foresee opportunities in the M&T program to embrace innovation and entrepreneurship and make those complex technologies come alive in commercially viable ways.

Through the senior project in the Integration Lab, I will pioneer a cutting-edge future of transportation at the intersection of business and engineering. Specifically, at the M&T summit, I aim to present and learn from professionals on our technologically-driven commercial solutions for transportation solutions. Personally, I would love to develop commercially viable fast-charging electric vehicle infrastructure, utilizing the materials engineering background from Penn Engineering. I want to make it a commercial success, and utilize marketing and economics principles, enhanced at Penn, to create a successful startup. I hope to present my findings at the senior summit, and use the Penn alumni as my first “customers,” receiving valuable feedback and networking opportunities.

It is essential to bring commercial value to science and engineering projects with the crucial integration with business principles and applications. The M&T program has been pioneering this combination for over 40 years, and places a large importance on identifying and solving problems through innovation.

The future of engineering is evolving. The complex challenges of the future requires innovation in engineering and also business. With a Penn education and my passion for research, I hope to transform a lot more than small-scale EV fleets.

Why M&T Analysis

This prompt is fairly straightforward. The M&T program wants to understand your interest in business and engineering, to see your previous experience with the two fields, and to understand how you will approach them in the future. The program is looking for students with big dreams and a desire to change the world; this essay is the place to show yours.

In the example above, the author begins by discussing an internship they did which combined the engineering challenges of electric vehicle implementation with the business challenge of making electric vehicles financially viable. This is a common problem; solutions which work well in a lab are not always economically feasible, while established practices often have their own hidden costs. It requires someone who understands the engineering and business challenges to implement new technologies in an economically feasible way.

The author gives concrete examples of how they approached this problem, and the successes they had. You should always use concrete examples where possible; the best indicator you are able to do something is already having done it to some degree. Here the author shows how they created a cost-benefit analysis for electric vehicles to convince reticent businesses to adopt the new technology. Thus the author demonstrates an understanding of the engineering challenges involved in electric vehicles, and the economic challenges in their adoption.

In the second half of the essay, the author pivots to discuss the M&T program at Penn, and their plans for the future. Here again the author is very specific, and ties their past interest in and experience with transportation to opportunities at Penn. They give concrete examples of future plans, and state their intention to continue their work on electric vehicles and the associated infrastructure.

This specificity is good, and you should do the same. By tying your past achievements to your future plans, you show how the M&T program specifically will help you continue on your journey, and demonstrate to admissions officers why you and the program are good fits for each other.

The author is clearly dreaming big, and has grand ambitions. This is good; the M&T program at UPenn is meant for students who want to dream big, and to give them a place to explore their ambitions. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do, or how, but you should give the general outlines of your future goals, and show how the M&T program will let you achieve them.

Leadership Essay Example

Describe a problem that you solved that showed leadership and creativity. (250 words maximum)

While volunteering at KIPP Connect in Gulfton, a disadvantaged neighborhood in southwest Houston, I taught fifth-graders everything from fractions to debate. Though I initially joined to fulfill my mandatory 10th-grade community service credit, I fell in love with the experience; I adored fostering a learning environment for kids who had never experienced an educational support system.

As I expanded my involvement in 11th grade, I identified a shortcoming: despite their school curriculums shifting away from pencil and paper and towards digital teaching tools like Khan Academy, KIPP still tutored the old-fashioned way. I sought out the head of the school to discuss adopting electronic tutoring methods that provide more dynamic, customized instruction. We found Khan Academy was perfect for this: the kids could learn the same material as in class, even pushing themselves past their peers, while still working with my fellow Kinkaid students.

KIPP’s Head of Community Services recognized my efforts to shift the volunteer work to seamlessly extend their school activities, and appointed me to lead the activity for my 12th grade. As a leader, I hope to inspire and encourage more underclassmen to join, and to innovate and develop a variety of activities that promote participation and creativity in addressing the kids’ problems.

Leadership Essay Analysis

This is a fairly straightforward leadership essay, and there is a good chance you will be able to cross-apply another essay you write to answer this prompt. Note that this essay is still for the Management and Technology program, and incorporating elements into the essay that reflect that will strengthen your application.

This program is looking for future leaders of industry, and as we stated above, past performance is seen as the best indicator for future ability. Thus the element of problem solving mentioned in the prompt. This may mean that you won’t be able to cross-apply a previously written essay, or you may need to rewrite parts to better fit what UPenn is looking for.

In the example above, the author discusses a volunteering opportunity they participated in, a problem they recognized with it, and how they strove to address that problem. The fact that the problem and solution both involve technology implementation is good, as it shows the author’s understanding of technology’s place in the world, and how to help others make best use of it.

You don’t have to discuss technology or business in your essay, and you shouldn’t force it in if it doesn’t fit the story you’re telling. That said, if you have two possible examples, and one involves business or technology and the other doesn’t, you should go for the first option.

The essay’s focus on problem solving is also important. The M&T program looks to the future, and the implementation of new technologies. This often requires intense problem solving, and so admissions officers are specifically looking for that attribute in potential students. Thus describing how you solved a problem, especially with business or technological implications or implementation, is very valuable for this essay.

The essay ends by discussing the author’s future goals for their volunteering, and a desire to impact people even more. This is a good way to finish, as it shows the author is not complacent with their current successes, but is instead interested in building upon them. You don’t have to go into great depth about future plans, but if you are still participating in the activity discussed in the essay, you should mention it, if only briefly.

Final Thoughts

The Management & Technology program at UPenn is the oldest program of its kind in the country, and has a long history of successes. This prestige has attracted many applicants, and the program now has an approximate acceptance rate of 3%, far lower than UPenn generally. Still many students consider the benefits of the program to be worth the long odds of acceptance.

If you are considering applying to M&T, and aren’t sure where to begin, or want help with the application process, schedule a free consultation with us to learn how we can help you. We have a long experience helping students with their applications, and are always happy to hear from you.

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