MBA Frequently Asked Questions


Am I a Good MBA Candidate?

If you’re thinking of embarking on an MBA program, you might ask yourself, “am I a good candidate?” What a good MBA candidate needs depends on what business schools you are applying to, and what these institutions are looking for. Each school has a unique culture and candidates will need to demonstrate why a particular MBA and school are the right fit for them; think about what you want to learn personally and professionally. 

However, when it comes to the admissions requirements there are a few things that most top schools want to see in a prospective student. These include a strong academic track record and evidence of leadership experience and potential. Other aspects, such as extracurricular activities, can make you a more attractive MBA candidate. 

A good MBA candidate needs professional experience 

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 substantially more working knowledge and the best among them have evidence of leadership experience. 

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 and some profile listings at FIND MBA include this information as well.

If you have significantly less work experience than the average, you may still stand a chance of securing a competitive MBA place; the business school admissions team will look to other parts of your application, to see if you can demonstrate leadership and stand out in other ways.

What GMAT or GRE score should an MBA candidate have? 

An admissions test—such as the GMAT or the GRE—is your opportunity to demonstrate to the admissions committee that you are prepared for the academic rigor of an MBA. Although standardized tests are no longer required for admission to some MBA programs, many course administrators and admissions consultants will advise prospective students to take a test anyway. A high score on an exam such as the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) can give you an edge in a competitive admissions pool. 

Some business schools used to have a minimum GMAT score as a prerequisite to apply, but many have waived such requirements in response to the coronavirus disruption to testing centers and schedules. MBA candidates can still judge their competitiveness by comparing their 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 schools). If a candidate’s GMAT score is significantly lower than the average, other parts of their application will need to be stronger to balance it out.

For some MBA programs, you can take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) instead of the GMAT, and some business schools also accept the Executive Assessment (EA) as an alternative test. Others have developed and run their own admissions exams.  

In addition to standardized tests, non-native English speakers may be required to take a language test such as the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) if they are applying for English-language MBA programs.

An MBA candidate should have good grades 

While standardized tests can be used to gauge your academic skills and potential, business schools will also closely examine your previous academic record including your grade point average (GPA) from your undergraduate studies. MBA candidates can benchmark their GPA against the average of their target schools. 

MBA programs will consider where you received your degree, the difficulty level of the subject, and the competition that you likely faced as an undergraduate. Schools will also look for evidence of any academic studies you may have completed after your undergraduate degree, such as a masters or PhD. Admissions teams will also look at coursework taken outside a degree program, such as online learning.   

An MBA candidate should be ready for an admissions interview 

After reviewing your application, most business schools will 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 videoconferencing. This is a chance for the conversation to go deeper than what was on your CV, so that the school can get to know you. It’s also a two-way process, and a chance for you to decide whether the school is a good fit. 

What about extracurriculars?

Strong grades, admissions test scores and interview performances will only get you so far. Solid professional experiences and extracurricular involvement can improve your chances of admission. 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 help strengthen your application.

Qualities of a good MBA candidate:

  • Work experience: at least two to three years
  • Strong GMAT or GRE score
  • Undergraduate degree with a competitive GPA
  • Extracurricular activities