If you’re thinking about doing an MBA program, you might ask yourself “am I a good candidate?” Of course, the answer depends on what schools you are applying to, and what these schools are looking for. However, most business schools will require for a few main things, such as a first degree, work experience, and a competitive GMAT score. Other aspects, such as extracurricular activities, can make you more attractive to a business school.
Work experience (important)
Most accredited MBA programs will require candidates to have at least two or three years of post-degree, full-time work experience. However, many applicants have more work experience than the bare minimum. Your competitiveness can be judged by comparing your work experience to the average of accepted students who enroll in the MBA programs you’re looking at. Many business schools disclose the average participant age (some profile listings at FIND MBA include this information, as well).
If you have significantly less work experience than the average, then the business school may look to other parts of your application, to see if you stand out in other ways.
Standardized test scores (important)
Although the GMAT is not required for admission to some MBA programs, the vast majority of accredited business schools will want you to take it. They will examine your score to see how well you will fit in their MBA programs, particularly the "core" classes. Some business schools will have a minimum GMAT score as a prerequisite to apply, but often, you can judge your competitiveness by comparing your GMAT score to the average score of accepted students, which is often found on the business school’s website (FIND MBA also provides this information for some business schools). If your GMAT score is significantly lower than the average, other parts of your application will need to be stronger to balance it out.
For some MBA programs, you can take the GRE instead of the GMAT, and some business schools provide their own admissions test.
Finally, if you are a non-native English speaker, you may be asked to take a language test, such as the TOEFL or IELTS (for English-language MBA programs).
Undergraduate performance (important)
Beyond work experience and standardized test scores, business schools will also examine your undergraduate GPA and other indicators, to see evidence of how well you can do in an academic setting. Some MBA programs will be looking for particular types of undergraduate degrees: some require four-year degrees, for instance.
Although not usually required by business schools, anything you’ve done outside of work or school, such as volunteer work, club membership, or the like, can strengthen your application.
The interview (usually required)
After reviewing your application, most business schools will also require at least one interview to be admitted into an MBA program. These generally happen in-person, although some business schools will conduct these using the telephone or videoconferencing.
Qualities of a good MBA candidate:
- Work experience: at least two to three years
- GMAT or GRE score
- Undergraduate degree with a good GPA
- Extracurricular activities (helpful)