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5 Sure-Fire Ways To Strengthen Your China MBA Application

Want to leverage an MBA to launch a career in China without experience in the country? Steven Ji of China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) shares five tips for a strong MBA application


Mon Jan 10 2022


In this Applicant Question, Steven Ji, assistant director for MBA marketing, admissions, and financial aid at CEIBS, shares what he’s looking for in international students who want to study the CEIBS MBA in Shanghai. 

Ranked among the top 10 business schools worldwide by the Financial Times for four consecutive years, Steven says the CEIBS MBA can act as a gateway to China for students without Chinese work experience.

Graduating from a top MBA program in China is a gateway to the country for international students. For as long as the CEIBS MBA program has been in existence, we’ve been able to help these students transition their career to China.

However, we are only as effective as our students’ efforts—it’s important that we admit only the right candidates into the program. Although we can’t share the exact metrics we measure during the admission process, there are some crucial characteristics that we look for in top international candidates. 

1. School knowledge

Each of the candidates admitted to the CEIBS MBA has done a lot of research about the school.   c5d6d2c5c95ba0d5487fd56ac0b4aff520ff79cb.jpg

Successful candidates usually reach out to multiple alumni or current students to find out as much as they can about our program first-hand. We have a dedicated student ambassador program and publish contact details of all the ambassadors on our website. 

You could also attend one of our many open-house MBA lecture events. There’s also a dedicated week-long pre-MBA Boot Camp that happens in summer every year. The camp is designed to reflect our MBA program, with lectures, case studies, company visits, and networking sessions all built in. 

Many international applicants use this as an opportunity to experience CEIBS and Shanghai first-hand before deciding to apply.

2. A global mindset

Having a global mindset is equally important for international candidates. But having international experience doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got a global mindset.

For us, it’s important that our candidates have the ability to work in a diverse multicultural environment. Therefore, we look for people who have high empathy, are open-minded, and are aware of what is happening around the world in terms of technological and business advancements. 

3. Passion for China

China is at a very interesting phase in its economic growth. The number of Chinese companies in the Fortune 500 list has grown from 12 in 2001 to 135 in 2020. 

The kind of technological and business disruptions taking place here are unprecedented, which makes for an incredible learning experience for internationals coming to study at CEIBS. We even have our in-house case center dedicated to China-focused cases

Our international candidates must have an innate desire to be part of this exciting learning journey. They should have knowledge of China’s business ecosystem and be aware of the disruptions caused by big Chinese enterprises at home and around the world.

Many of our faculty members publish articles in international journals about their research on businesses in China. Applicants can keep themselves informed by reading up on these.

4. Motivation for languages

Shanghai is an international city and the CEIBS MBA curriculum is taught entirely in English. It’s possible to live in Shanghai without being able to speak the local tongue. 

However, to truly attain ‘China Depth’ in your career, being able to speak Chinese is important. Although it’s a challenging language to learn and can take years to master, especially with the MBA coursework, most of our international students are able to speak conversational Chinese by the time they graduate. 

We even provide an intensive Chinese language pre-MBA course to our international students which, despite being optional, is taken up by almost everyone. Many students also begin working on their Chinese language skills before they enroll, by taking classes online or in their home countries.

5. Know the challenges

Most people joining an MBA program are looking for a career switch in either industry, function, or both. 

However, making a career switch requires effort—especially for international students, whose career opportunities are more niche than their Chinese peers. This means our incoming students need to be aware of the potential challenges they might face.

The best way to prepare is to reach out to alumni who have made a similar transition. CEIBS does provide all the necessary tools to tackle the challenges you might face, but we want our students to have a well-researched plan.