MBA admission is always competitive. Some of the top international business schools attract up to 7,000 applicants per intake which results in admission rates as tiny as less than 10%.
Although competition is overwhelming, you should focus on building an MBA application package which presents your potential for graduate management education in the best possible way. This is entirely within your control, but requires commitment, discipline and focus.
Here are the elements of an MBA application for admission.
You can apply for admission to a Master of Business Administration programme only after you graduate from university with either a Bachelor’s or another Master’s degree or their equivalent. It is also possible to apply for an MBA if you have a higher academic degree, such as an M.Phil. or Ph.D., but the Bachelor’s degree is the required minimum.
When applying for admission you should submit a copy of your university diploma as part of your application package. It should be a verified copy of the diploma with an Apostil accompanied by a certified translation in English. Please make sure you check with each of your targeted business schools for any additional requirements.
Your university diploma should be accompanied by original official academic transcripts which list the courses taken, the scores achieved, the final GPA and other academic details. Certified translations are required if the original academic transcripts are not in English.
MBA programmes rely heavily on the professional experience of their students. This is why it is a requirement that you have several years of full-time professional work experience in order to be eligible for admission to an MBA. The required number of years varies between business schools, so make sure you check in advance. A minimum of two or three years are needed to apply for admission to MBA programmes. At least five years professional experience plus managerial roles are the requirement for Executive MBA programmes.
Your experience is presented in your MBA application resume. The resume is a shorter version of a CV, which is focused on MBA application and presents only the information which is most relevant to graduate management studies. The resume includes details on your professional, personal and academic life and accomplishments. Some of the facts in your resume will also appear in the letters of recommendation.
There are different formats of CV/resume. Please, check with your targeted business schools whether they have any preference or requirements.
Language test scores
International MBA programmes are taught in English. To be able to enrol in a programme, you should be fluent in reading, writing, speaking and listening in English. This is why business schools require official scores in internationally recognised English language proficiency tests.
Please check with your targeted business schools what their requirements are for a minimum score in these tests. For initial orientation, you may assume that you need a score of at least 100 (out of 120) in the TOEFL iBT and 6.5 (out of 9.0) in the IELTS.
The scores of these tests are valid for two years after the test date. Business schools normally ask to receive official original score reports.
Aptitude test scores
GMAT or GRE scores are often required as well. These are not language tests, although they are conducted in English. GMAT and GRE are aptitude tests which assess the level of your skills needed for graduate management education, such as quantitative, analytical and reasoning skills.
The scores of GMAT and GRE exams are valid for five years. These tests are usually much more challenging than English language tests and require more time for preparation.
Please check with your targeted business schools what their requirements are for a minimum score on these tests. For initial orientation, you may assume that you need a score of at least 620 (out of 800) in the GMAT and the equivalent in the GRE.
Letters of recommendation are an outside source of information for the MBA admissions committee about your potential for graduate management education. They are part of the application package. MBA programmes require you to submit professional letters of reference, not academic ones.
Most business schools will have their own forms for the recommendation letters as well as instructions and guidelines to the recommenders. Make sure you read these carefully and provide them to your recommenders.
It is very important to select your recommenders carefully and according to the requirements of the business schools. Also, allow enough time for your recommenders to prepare the letters. Finally, each recommendation should be school-specific. You cannot have ‘general’ letters of reference.
Essays are one of the most interesting and challenging parts of the application package. Admissions committees pay a lot of attention to the essays.
Each business school provides one or more essay topics – usually two or three. The topics vary between schools. As with recommendation letters, your essays should be school-specific. You cannot have one and the same essay for different business schools.
Check The Most Important Essay Writing Tips
Your MBA application package should be accompanies by an application form. Each business school has its own application form. Most often it is submitted online.
The application form contains important details about your profile, your academic and professional experience and other information related to MBA admission. The information which you provide in the application form should be coherent with the rest of the documents in your application package. It is recommended that all documents are submitted as a package so that you can double check before submission that all facts are correct.
Most business schools will charge a non-refundable application fee in order to review your application package. The fees vary per business school, but the average is about 100 Euros.
Most business schools will conduct an interview with applicants for admission to their MBA programmes. Interview policies differ between business schools. Some b-schools will interview all applicants, others will interview just the preselected ones. Most schools usually conduct only one interview.
If you are invited to an interview this only means that your application is of interest to the admissions committee. In no way does it mean that you are admitted. The actual competition is still ahead of you. Your performance during an admissions interview has a lot of weight on the decision for admission, as well as if you apply for a scholarship. Make sure you prepare well for the interview. Start early. Do not wait until the interview invitation, as it often comes at very short notice.
Check out some Interview Preparation Tips
The value of the application package
The application package is the second most important part of your MBA project, the first one being selecting the best business schools for your goals, profile and potential.
Preparing a well-thought-out application package takes time. Start working on it as soon as business schools open the application process for the intake of your preference. This may be about 12 months before the actual start of your MBA studies. There are usually at least two or three months during which the actual application process is open before the application deadline.
Preparation for language and aptitude tests should be done in advance. Plan for about four additional months for test preparation, taking or retaking the tests and official score reporting. It is very practical to first take the tests and then shortlist the business schools based on your scores and their requirements, among all other factors.