MBA Application Guide

A Free Guide to MBA Admissions

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MBA application requirements can vary from school to school. However, there are certain components that comprise nearly every MBA application. Getting familiar with each aspect can help you create an MBA application that impresses admissions committees and increases your chances of getting accepted to your business school of choice.

MBA Application Components

Although there are some MBA programs that require little more than your name and a copy of your past transcripts, most programs are more selective. This is especially true of the programs offered at top tier business schools. The most common MBA application components include the following.

Many schools will also require or offer an optional interview as part of the MBA application process. This interview is usually conducted by alumni or an admissions committee. Students who do not speak English as a first language may also be asked to submit TOEFL scores to U.S., Canadian, and European business schools.

Application Form

Nearly every business school asks applicants to fill out an MBA application form. This form may be online or on paper. The form will include blank spaces for your name, address, and other personal information. You may also be asked about academic experience, work experience, volunteer experience, leadership experience, organizations that you may be a part of, and career goals. This form should match and compliment your resume, essays, and other application components. Get tips on filling out an MBA application form.

Academic Records

Your MBA application will need to include official undergraduate transcripts. An official academic transcript will list the undergraduate courses you have taken as well as the grades you have earned.

Some schools have minimum GPA requirements; others simply want a closer look at your academic records. It is your responsibility to request the transcripts, and you must be sure to do this ahead of time. It can sometimes take anywhere from one week to one month for a university to process a transcript request. Find out how to request official transcripts for your MBA application.

Professional Resume

Since most MBA programs expect applicants to have previous work experience, your MBA application will need to include a professional resume. The resume should focus on your professional experience and include information about previous and current employers, job titles, job duties, leadership experience, and specific accomplishments.

MBA Application Essays

You may be required to submit one, two, or three essays as part of your MBA application. The essay may also be referred to as a personal statement. In some cases, you will be given a very specific topic to write on, such as your career goals or the reason you want to get an MBA.

In other cases, you may be able to choose the topic yourself. In any case, it is very important that you follow directions and turn in an essay that supports and enhances your MBA application. Read more about MBA application essays.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are almost always required in an MBA application. You will need two to three letters from people who are familiar with you professionally or academically. An individual who is familiar with your community or volunteer work would also be acceptable. It is very important that you choose letter writers who will provide a glowing, well-written recommendation. The letter should highlight information about your personality, work ethic, leadership potential, academic record, professional experience, career accomplishments, or charitable nature. Each letter can highlight a different aspect or support a common claim. See a sample MBA letter of recommendation.

GMAT or GRE Scores

MBA applicants must take either the GMAT or the GRE and submit their scores as part of the MBA application process.

Although acceptance is not based on standardized test scores alone, business schools do use these scores to assess an applicant's ability to understand and complete required coursework. A good score will increase your chances of acceptance, but a bad score will not always lead to a denial. No matter which test you choose to take, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Your score will reflect your work. Get a list of top GRE prep books and a list of free GMAT prep resources.