An MBA, short for Master of Business Administration, is a postgraduate degree offered by business schools. It can prepare you to accept promotions for high-paying jobs or become the founder of your own company. Students who join an MBA program also enjoy other benefits like exposure to a wide range of career opportunities and a great professional network.
If you are wondering how to get into an MBA program, this article is for you. Below you will find a step-by-step guide to help you in the admission process. We cover MBA program requirements and explain each step of the application process and how to get accepted into an MBA program.
How Difficult Is It to Get Into an MBA Program?
Gaining admission into an MBA program can be a challenge, whether you are applying to an Ivy League school or not. Most business schools have a stringent admission process into MBA programs. With this, the whole application and admissions process can be stressful, time-consuming, and expensive.
The difficulty of admission into the program depends on the individual school you are applying to. For example, Harvard Business School has an acceptance rate of around 10 percent. The Wharton School MBA program has an acceptance rate of 12 percent. Acceptance rates have reduced drastically in the top business schools over the last few years due to the large number of applications and increasing academic requirements.
Common MBA Program Requirements
- High undergraduate GPA. Like all other graduate programs, candidates will need to have completed a bachelor’s degree with a high GPA to qualify for an MBA program. Admissions experts at elite schools look for applicants with a history of academic excellence. Class profiles reveal that the required GPA ranges from 3.3 to 3.7.
- Good GMAT or GRE scores. Applicants need to have taken the Graduate Management Admission Test and pass with good scores to get into their dream business school. Depending on the school, you may be able to substitute the GMAT exam for Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
- Letters of recommendation. Letters of recommendation are important in the application process. A strong letter of recommendation will provide an academic, professional, and character overview of the applicant to the admissions committees.
- Relevant work experience. The admissions committee will want a description of your work history and experience. You will need to highlight your previous work experience and skills in a resume.
- Short personal statement. An application essay highlights your personality and career goals to the admissions officials. It gives you an opportunity to convince them that you are a great fit for the MBA program.
How to Get Accepted Into an MBA Program: A Step-by-Step Guide
As an MBA program is a competitive, postgraduate education opportunity, you will need to put in the work to gain admission into an MBA program. No one meets MBA program requirements with minimal effort. You have to be a great candidate. Below are a few steps to follow to be successfully accepted into an MBA program.
Step 1: Build Your Profile
The first step in the application process is to build your profile. This means completing your bachelor’s degree and seeking work experience. As stated earlier, business schools require that applicants have completed an undergraduate degree. However, students of any academic background can apply for an MBA program. Work experience is also an important criteria for admission.
Most MBA programs require that candidates have a few years of professional work experience. The admission teams will review the candidate’s work history and check if the candidate made meaningful contributions in their last job role. In fact, most Ivy League schools require five years of professional experience in managerial positions. However, there are some programs that are tailored towards recent college graduates.
Step 2: Take the GMAT or GRE Exams
The GMAT is one of the cornerstones of your MBA application. You will need to complete a GMAT or GRE exam. Standardized examinations show your intellectual aptitude, academic readiness, and reflect your ability to put it in the work to achieve your career goals. It is a way for the business school to know that you can handle the coursework when you eventually get admitted.
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A good GMAT score can increase your chances of admission. Although the exact score that you will need varies with the school and your academic background, most schools want average GMAT scores between 700 and 800. International students or non-native speakers may have to write an English language test like the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or Pearson Test of English (PTE).
Step 3: Research and Choose a Program
The next step is to choose an MBA program at a business school that best suits your career goals, interests, and budget. If possible, plan a campus visit to the potential schools to get a feel of the school culture and talk to current students about the graduate program. Research the type and scope of the programs and the specialization that the school offers.
There are several different types of MBA programs. For example, a specialized MBA allows students to devote their studies to a chosen field of business administration. The most popular MBA specializations are general management, marketing, entrepreneurship, human resource management, engineering management, business analytics, and information technology.
Step 4: Prepare Your Application
Strategic preparation is essential for a successful application. You will need to gather the necessary documents for the school of your choice, such as your GMAT score, letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose. Also, take note of any application deadlines and application fees.
Most business schools have three admission rounds with different application deadlines for MBA applicants. It is crucial to check the admission rounds and deadlines of the school you want to target before you even start making application plans. Creating a game plan ahead of time will help you ensure that you do not accidentally miss any important deadlines.
Step 5: The Interview and Decision Process
If your application is considered good enough by the admissions team, you will be shortlisted for the interview process. The interview process is your opportunity to sell yourself as a right fit for the school to the admission team. Be ready to advertise your soft skills, interpersonal skills, leadership skills, and technical skills.
How to Choose the Right MBA Program
An MBA is a huge investment in terms of time, effort, and money. This Is why you should take the time to choose the best program based on your needs and career goals. Some of the key things that you should consider are budget, location, MBA Scholarships, extracurricular activities, and competition to get into the program.
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Top Tips for Getting Into an MBA Program
- Start early. The most effective way to improve your odds of acceptance into an MBA program is to start early. There is nothing worse than starting late and eventually submitting a half-baked application. Early preparation will allow you to do the proper research and make sure that you submit a well-rounded application.
- Curate quality work experiences. You should acquire work experience prior to submitting an MBA application. This doesn’t necessarily mean working in a big company like Google, McKinsey, or Goldman Sachs. Even employment in a small company can still offer you a platform to develop your management skills.
- Build relationships for better recommendation letters. Prospective students should build good relationships with professors, colleagues, and other professionals so that those individuals can write them great recommendation letters. These mentors will be able to advertise you properly and give a detailed description of your strengths and weaknesses.
- Contribute to your community. Admissions officers favor candidates who contribute to their community. One way to boost your profile is to give back to the community. Volunteer in organizations where you can improve your leadership qualities, perform extracurricular activities, and do other work that will improve your portfolio
- Prepare for your interview. An invitation to the interview indicates that you have made it through the first rounds of the admissions process. That’s a foot in the door already. If you can adequately prepare for the interview, your chances of acceptance are even better. We recommend that you research past interview questions of each school and practice them accordingly.
Will I Get Accepted Into an MBA Program?
With a well-prepared application containing all of the requirements of your target school, you stand a decent chance of being accepted into an MBA program. However, your chances of admission depend on the reputation of your school and competition in the admissions process. As stated earlier, elite schools have a really low acceptance rate. This implies that a large percentage of students do not gain admission. It may be better to apply to a mid-ranked school if you do not have very high test scores and want a better chance of admission.
Is Getting Into an MBA Program Worth It?
Yes, if you want to become a manager or business leader then an MBA program is well worth it. An MBA degree can position you for high-paying roles, especially when it is from an elite school. This advanced degree can set you up for career success.
An MBA program offers a wealth of advantages such as lucrative salaries, a strong professional network, job security, and high-level managerial skills. You will learn to explore thriving business opportunities and even how to create your own business.
How to Get Into an MBA Program FAQ
The M7 schools consist of Harvard Business School, Columbia Business School, Wharton School of Business, Stanford Graduate School of Business, MIT Sloan School of Management, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and Unity of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. M7 stands for Magnificent Seven and is a term used to describe the seven most elite business schools offering highly competitive MBA programs.
Neither an MBA nor a master’s program is harder than the other. Both a master’s and an MBA degree are advanced programs with rigorous academic standards. The difficulty of the program depends on the institution and the student’s background. For instance, a professional with business experience will find an MBA program easier than a recent bachelor’s degree graduate.
According to PayScale, MBA degree holders have an average base salary of $91,000 per year. The experience, technical expertise, and business administration skills of MBA holders help them earn high pay from employers.
Yes, GMAT can be more important than GPA. Both your GMAT score and your GPA are important factors in the admissions process for MBA programs. A high GMAT score is an indication that you can handle the coursework of the MBA program. In addition, as the GMAT score is often a more recent metric, it may be considered more heavily than your academic record.
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