Tips on Applying for Entry to an MBA Program

Once you have decided which MBA program is for you - this is your most important step. Take your time over it - get it right. You might be applying to more than one program - but don't be tempted to rush it.

Procedures for applying to enter an MBA program vary - and so does the terminology. However these are the common aspects. You may not require all of them in all situations. These are our tips:

The Application Form

Your form should be clear, complete and neat. When read quickly by someone who does not know you, it should give a clear picture of you.

  • Spend sufficient time - do the job properly. This is the first hurdle - most people fall here
  • Photocopy the blank form several times and fill out several drafts before you fill out the copy to submit. Get someone to look at your drafts - preferably someone who doesn't know you too well and who can therefore see the document as an admissions person in the school might see it.
  • If you are applying to a school in another country, remember that you might not get an interview so the application documents are particularly important.
  • If the application form refers to interviews and you are in another country, offer to be interviewed by telephone and/or by a local allumnus of the school.

The Resume, or CV

If a separate personal resume or CV is required, it should:

  • Be concise and neat (typed rather than handwritten)
  • Present you - as a person - clearly , to someone who does not know you
  • Be specific - saying what you have done, learnt and accomplished
  • Show evidence of your managerial and leadership skills
  • Show evidence that you are a good 'group worker' - most programs will need you to work in this way
  • Highlight specific skills and abilities that will differentiate you from others - and make you stand out from the crowd
  • Include some things that might become topics in an interview
  • Remember - spend time on your resume, and make it show. The school will want to see that you are taking them seriously

The Essay

If it is about you, it should do all the things which are listed above for the resume, but it is also a test of your writing ability, so it should also:

  • Be well structured and logical (check spelling and syntax. Get someone to read it before you use it)
  • Present your strengths, but recognize your weaknesses, and say how doing the program is intended to address them
  • Indicate what you would bring to the program - i.e. how you would be an asset to it, and subsequently to the school as an allumnus
  • Express your views and opinions
  • Address all the specific topics requested or suggested by the school. Make a checklist and ensure you cover all items, preferably in the order the school presented them in any notes for guidance
  • Follow the school's requirements as regards line spacing, margins etc., and especially any word limit
  • Don't use 'mass produced' or 'off the peg' essays

Letters of Recommendation/References

Take care to pick the right people to comment about you:

  • Choose people who know you and who like you
  • Choose people in business or education, i.e. with job titles which will be recognized by the school
  • Ask them before and thank them afterwards (preferably when you have the result of the application)
  • Brief them, but don't tell them what to write. Speak to or meet with them, give them a copy of your completed application form , CV, etc.
  • Tell them their input is important and not just a formality
  • Choose people who have, and will give, the time to do a good job - i.e. not just tick the boxes and write no comments

The Tests

You will probably be required to take tests such as GMAT, TOEFL etc. Be sure to:

  • Practice before - as far as possible. Note that there are organisations which offer coaching and tuition
  • If you are required to do psychometric tests (e.g. personality tests) it will usually be at the time of the interview. You cannot prepare for them in the sense of getting the right answers (if fact you probably will not know what test will be used), but you can try to do some tests before just to get the feel of them. University careers officers, and careers guidance organizations normally have tests that you might be able to take, or you might get a book of personality and apptitude tests to try out
  • Remember the normal test/exam guidance - pace yourself - try to complete the full questionnaire/test
  • Schools which use tests attach a lot of importance to them - so should you. Tests (especially GMAT) are a convenient filter for them, enabling them to reduce a very large number of applicants to a smaller group for closer scrutiny
  • You may get some group tests/exercises at the time of the interview. You will be given a task and observed. The school will want to see balanced behaviour - i.e. your ability to lead, take decisions and form opinion, as well as to listen to, support and encourage others.

The Interview

If you get this far, you are shortlisted. It is the critical stage. Think about it beforehand. Get prepared.

  • Think about some of the questions you might be asked and consider how you would answer them, but don't try to prepare answers as they will not seem natural, and you may forget the words
  • The interviewer wants to see what you are like; they do not want an act. They will be trying to decide whether you would 'fit' the program, what you would contribute etc.
  • Dress smartly
  • Aim to get there a bit earlier. You might then be able to look around, if it is at the school
  • Show that you have done your 'homework' e.g you have gathered information on the school and the program. You need to know quite a lot about the school and the program as you might get asked questions just to see how serious you are about your application. Have a file of cuttings, prospectus etc., - but don't spread it out on the table!
  • At the end, when you are asked if you have any questions, don't pull out a long list! Have one or two (at most) good questions - e.g. information which is not in the prospectus.
  • Don't behave/question/discus as if you expected to be accepted. Don't talk about 'we' when you refer to the program.
  • Know about the cost/fees/funding issues. The interview is not the time to get into details. The interviwer is not there to help you solve your financial problems. Make it clear that you understand all the cost issues - fees, residence, materials etc.
  • Remember the key questions: Why do you want to do this MBA? Why do you want to do it now?

Funding and Scholarships

MBA programs are expensive. You will want to be sure that you can afford it, and the school to which you apply will want to be sure also:

  • Make sure you know all the cost implications. The fees are just a part of what it will cost you. If you need a grant or scholarship, start looking early.
  • Notice that there are sources of scholarship info, e.g. reference books, listings etc.
  • Some Schools will have scholarship or financial assistance schemes. Get all the details before you get too far into the application process
  • If you are dependent on financial assistance it may well influence what places you can apply to, eg. schemes in your own country may only apply to certain other countries, and schemes from the schools may be restricted to particular types of candidate. Sorting all this out can take a lot of time, so start early.
With thanks to: The MBA Program Information site (














Related Articles

  • Why do an MBA, Diverse Opportunities, Demand for Training
  • Why do an MBA? - Diverse Opportunities. Recent years have witnessed a rapid growth in the UK and international MBA market. The increasing demand for training in what is now routinely accepted as the graduate management degree is in part due to the MBA's growing reputation with senior executives in the business world.
  • Distance Learning MBA, Full Time Programmes at all Levels
  • Distance Learning MBA. There are various approaches to learning. Full time programmes at all levels require a career break of some sort. This may be acceptable especially for short courses or where you get leave of absence but you also have to consider access, location, timing, the quality of the group and of the deliverer. Local courses may be of restricted quality and you may not be able to afford overseas courses.
  • Online MBA programs, The Continuing Development of Internet Technology
  • Online MBA Programs. The online MBA is a relatively new development and as such there are very few business schools that are offering an MBA program entirely online. Many online programs still require students to attend mandatory residential courses as part of their syllabus. The length and frequency of these "contact" sessions vary depending on the school and program.
  • MBA Rankings, Are a Great Way for Perspective Students to Select
  • MBA Rankings. MBA rankings are a great way for perspective students to select between the best business programs offered at reputable universities. With future students in mind four main sources, The Financial Times, Business Week and The Economist publish a list of universities that offer the best program to earn a Master's in Business Administration. Taking the MBA rankings into account, perspective students will have a general idea of the status and value of their future degree in the business world. When selecting a school students should be aware of these rankings, even though they are debatable since they are seen by so many hiring companies.
  • MBA Rankings, Business Week and U.S. News & World Report
  • MBA Rankings. The ranking of business schools has been a controversial subject for a number of years. It is only recently, however, that they have become popular with the press, publicized and generally accepted. As a matter of fact, one of the principal reasons for the rankings has been the ability of the articles to boost the circulation of the magazines.

Related Courses

  • Full-time MBA
  • A global MBA with an Asia Pacific focus. Students can choose an Asia specific track such as China, Japan or Vietnam. Hawaii’s only AACSB accredited MBA program. The cohort format fosters teamwork and peer learning
About Us Terms and Conditions Privacy policy Sitemap