The criteria for acceptance to a top ranked business school are a hot topic; however, to our knowledge, there are very few comprehensive lists of the primary things MBA admissions officers care about most when they review an MBA application.
Based upon many years of MBA admissions consulting experience, MBA Prep School created the list below to summarize the key success factors for getting into the most competitive business schools. Don’t dismay if you can’t check every box; who can really? Nevertheless, the more checkmarks you earn, the higher your chances of earning an acceptance letter to an elite business school.
When we evaluate profiles for MBA candidates, we use the criteria below to assess how competitive an MBA candidate may be. We think it’s helpful for candidates to think about the acceptance rates of the schools they are applying to so they can target realistic schools. GMAT Club publishes those acceptance rates here: http://gmatclub.com/forum/all-2014-mba-rankings-99812.html
The question is should you target the:
Most competitive MBA programs with acceptance rates of 15% or below
Competitive MBA Programs with acceptance rates of 15% – 30%
Less Competitive MBA Programs with acceptance rates of 30% – 50%.
Keep in mind that some of the “Less Competitive” business schools still say no to two out every three applicants; we aren’t suggesting that all you have to do is submit your application and pay the application fee. You will have to work just as hard on your applications to these programs, especially if you have risk factors in your profile.
Profile evaluation is a mixture of art, science, and (let’s face it) at best it’s an educated guess. Don’t become your own admissions officer. Nevertheless, we understand that MBA applicants want to invest their precious time, energy, and application fees applying to MBA Programs for which they are strong contenders. As such, we hope that the criteria below help you with your MBA application targeting efforts.
You might also think of this list of MBA admission criteria as prescriptive. In other words, if you are planning to apply for an MBA in the future use this list to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your profile. After identifying your weak spots, it’s time to go to work addressing them. If you want to know how to make your candidacy stronger, we created a video that will show you how to develop an action plan: http://mbaprepschool.com/store/prepare-to-apply/
And without further ado, the list of competitive factors for MBA admissions:
High cumulative GPA and GPA in major
Above average performance in quantitative or business-oriented courses
GMAT score above the school’s median
TOEFL score above the school’s median (if applicable)
Undergraduate degree from a school with an excellent academic reputation
Extensive evidence of career progress
Visible progress made in the direction of career goals
Employer is known to have very high standards for hiring
Excellent references/recommendation letters
Plenty of evidence of managerial potential
Evidence of leadership at work
Evidence of leadership outside of work
Self-awareness of leadership capabilities and development needs
“Servant-Leader” leadership style as opposed to autocratic or self-serving
Defined career goals
Career goals reflect a sense of purpose: passion, meaning, and significance
Admissions committee can connect the dots between prior skills/experiences and post-MBA career goals
Convincing motivations for pursuing an MBA
Rock solid case for pursuing an MBA from the school(s) you are applying to
Career goals reflect a global perspective
Evidence of self-awareness
Evidence of maturity/life-experience
Dimension (e.g., not too much of a “poet” nor too much of a “suit”)
A great fit with the school’s culture
MBA Prep School
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