Logo BusinessBecause - The business school voice
mobile search icon

NUS Business School MBA Application Insider

NUS Business School is home to a top MBA program at the heart of Asia. But what does the NUS admissions team look for in its MBA applicants?

In the 55 years since it was founded, NUS Business School in Singapore has cemented its reputation as one of the best business schools in the world. 

NUS led the charge of Asian programs up the Financial Times Global MBA Rankings and, as of 2020, is the second highest ranked Asian MBA, coming in at 15th overall. It has unique access to Singapore’s economy, considered one of the most innovative and dynamic economies in the world. NUS also offers the most affordable MBA in the FT's top 20. 

So what does it take to get into the NUS MBA? BusinessBecause spoke to the NUS MBA admissions team, to find out what they look for in candidates, and what applicants can expect from the admissions process. 


What does NUS look for in MBA candidates?

NUS is fairly clear on what it's looking for in candidates. Leadership potential, intellectual curiosity, communication skills, and self-awareness are chief among the soft skills which the MBA admissions team actively look for in applicants. 

“We’re not just looking for academic excellence, but excellence in other areas, and how this plays into their career trajectory overall,” explains Wedad Sunny, head of marketing and admissions for the MBA program at NUS. 668bc5c7ece91a74eb9235b72b6271f91f3de4d6.png

Crucially, the team isn't just looking for a homogenous group: diversity is at the heart of the admissions process. 

This includes global diversity: 90% of the MBA cohort is international, drawing in students from across Asia and the rest of the world. But it’s also not just about where you are from, but about your professional background, your interests, and your personality. 

Su Ann Teo, head of admissions for The NUS MBA, believes this is a big part of looking at what applicants can contribute and bring to the classroom. After all, with an intimate group of 50 students in each class, having active participants is vital. 

“We look for a propensity to contribute to classroom discussions, people who are positive about sharing their own experiences with fellow classmates,” Su Ann notes. 


What can you expect from the NUS MBA application?

The NUS MBA application has several distinct stages, on top of standard requirements like a GMAT score, an MBA resume, and references. 

First of all, candidates have to complete the online application form. This includes two compulsory essays and one optional essay. For 2021 admissions, the essay questions are:


Wedad emphasizes the importance of the word “transform” in the first essay question. “We’d like to hear applicants elaborate on the kind of transformation they are looking for, both personally and professionally. The NUS MBA offers plenty of opportunities beyond the classroom, from exchanges, study trips, internships, to a thriving student club ecosystem where students can deepen their knowledge, explore career pathways, and build their network.” 

“We want candidates looking for real change and real experiences.”

The NUS admissions team strongly encourages candidates to get to the heart of the NUS MBA. They should research the curriculum, with more than 50 academic and experiential electives offered, for students to select and customise their own learning pathway, and speak to current students and alumni to get first-hand insights into their experience.

Crucially, it’s not about articulating your fit for any MBA: they want to know why the NUS MBA in particular. “There needs to be a two way fit—not just their suitability for the program, but how the program will fit your overall goals and plans,” Wedad says.  

How can you stand out in the NUS MBA interview?

After the online application, shortlisted candidates are invited to an interview. This is an opportunity to really shine, to bring your application to life and show NUS what you’ll bring to the MBA. 

“We want candidates to be able to articulate those qualities through examples, stories they can tell us, and personal experiences. Being able to bring that out adds a lot of credibility to their application,” Su Ann stresses. 

739a312d49886d6b8dcdb77b3100a3ff86f9b1fc.png First, thinking about your personal brand is important. 

Questions will vary, from the skills, expertise or interests you may bring to the classroom, how you’ve worked in a team or overcome challenging situations, to asking about your views on leadership and management.

Secondly, thinking about your contributions is important, both inside and outside the classroom. Campus life and MBA student clubs are an important part of the NUS experience, and they want to see that you’re keen to participate and contribute. 

There are a few big things to avoid during the interview. For example, don’t be late, don’t start by reading out your resume chronologically, and avoid general statements. ”This is your elevator pitch, so first impressions are everything.”  

Applicants who stand out are those who are honest and candid. The interview process is really an opportunity for candidates to share their experiences, how these experiences have shaped them, and how they see themselves in the future. 

“Be authentic. We want to get to know you as a person. We’re looking for candidates who have interesting stories to tell, beyond the accomplishments that you have covered in your CV,” Wedad says. 

Su Ann adds—”Show us more of who you are, that's valuable.” 

Student Reviews

National University of Singapore - NUS Business School






I have studied at the top university in the world and it was no doubt an overwhelming experience for me. I have gained skills as well as knowledge and it was the aim of this institute to give the insight of the skills besides theoretical learning.




On Campus

My journey at University of Singapore

1. In my opinion, the library (actually the library) was a great resource and facilitated a great learning environment. 2nd The professors and tutors were knowledgeable in their respective fields and were happy to help and involve students who visited them outside of class. 3. The students themselves were involved in each program in very different ways. You can meet everyone from lazy people to studious people. In my experience, students were motivated by grades and sheer intellect. 4. A myriad of extracurricular activities and facilities were available at a very low cost. 5. Academic performance is rated very high. when I applied to college S., my NUS transcripts had to be standardized in order for them to assign me a US GPA. During this conversion all C's were converted to As




On Campus

Prestigious university - learning is in your hands

Pros: - Great branding (one of the top universities in Southeast Asia) - Relatively easy coursework (As a business major, I spend about a third of my week studying and the rest working) - Qualify under the High Potential Individual visa that UK is handing out (all NUS students can apply to get a visa to work/ live in the UK for 2 years). I don’t expect NUS to be removed from this list any time soon given it’s reputation. Cons: - Lack flexibility in coursework (committing upfront on the major you are taking from matriculation




Great opportunities,

Perhaps the best part of NUS is the vast amount of opportunities it affords it's students. It's almost as if every week there's a new career fair, industrial visit, hackathon, or any other competition or event for it's students to join. NUS also offers multiple exchange programs ranging from 3 to 12 months (see the NOC programme) to grant it's students a more international outlook upon their graduation. There is a general atmosphere here that employability isn't an issue once we graduate. It's just unfortunate that it seems most students don't utilize these opportunities the best they can, but this attitude is simply a by-product of the results-oriented education system in Singapore that can be chalked up to the lack of diversity in the student body beyond Singaporeans. Perhaps bringing in more international students will help skew the results-focused nature of academics at NUS to a focus on more holistic education and development - what I personally believe a university education is really worth. However, with the right mindset and attitude, I believe NUS can truly offer a world class education, provided you're willing to put in the extra effort.




A dynamic and inter-disciplinary experience, that nurtured a love for learning

Coming from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, what I greatly enjoyed was the sheer breadth of courses available within the faculty and encouragement to take courses outside our faculty as well. Courses were always engaging, and professors and lecturers often gave students the freedom to pick topics for their final term papers or presentation and exercise creativity - for example, my interest in Art History meant that I could often delve deeper into this interest in my main academic leanings of Political Science and History. Professors and lecturers made themselves readily available to the students, and were approachable. During my time in NUS, there was a noticeable effort to invest in the students' global experiences (Exchange Programmes, Summer School, NUS Overseas College) - I truly believe that NUS was sincere in allowing as many students to have overseas experiences in spite of financial capabilities, and if one made the effort, the Centre for Future Ready Graduates was useful and invested in the potential careers of students too. When a friend from another local university did a local exchange to NUS, he remarked that NUS students truly loved to learn. I was content being surrounded by people who pursued their Arts/Social Sciences disciplines with a love for the content. It is also dynamic to be in a university that simply has so many different disciplines and faculties - one is just surrounded by people of varying interests and experiences, and forces them to look beyond their majors. Of course, NUS is commonly known for being too theoretical and content-focused. This is up to the students' prerogatives on how they want to exact their education and mould it for their lives, but generally NUS feels comfortable and safe within the academic realm - there is no push towards internships or whatnot that other universities might focus on. This could be a con. Another thing I did not like about NUS in recent times was the blatant grade inflation - that juniors from the 2014/5 batch could have liberties to S/U a lot more modules than their seniors could in some bid to take the focus away from grades, and towards learning and experimenting. Nevertheless, I greatly cherished my time in NUS and would highly recommend it.





There is an issue of overcrowding during peak hours such as before morning class and lunch time. This results in uncomfortable travelling experience for many students, it also becomes dangerous when the drivers make steep turns and brakes suddenly.




On Campus

never ending accademic excellence

Considering various aspects of my university experience, here is my review as a student at National university of Singapore. NUS is highly ranked globally and has a strong reputation for academic excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The school attracts a diverse student body and offers an international perspective through its academic programs and exchange partnerships with other universities. NUS boasts modern facilities, including libraries, laboratories, and recreational spaces. Accommodation is spacious. However, due to its high reputation, admission to NUS can be highly competitive, making it challenging for some students to gain entry. Singapore is known for its high cost of living, and this may pose a challenge for students on a tight budget, especially those coming from lower-income backgrounds. International students may face a period of adjustment to a new cultural and social environment when studying at NUS.




On Campus

rigorous yet a nurturing academic environment

As a student at the National University of Singapore NUS, I have found it to be a vibrant and diverse institution with a top-notch faculty. The faculty are not only knowledgeable but also approachable and supportive of students' academic pursuits. For me the University is rigorous yet a nurturing academic environment. The student life is rich with clubs and activities, and the accommodation options are comfortable and safe. While tuition fees may vary, there are numerous financial aid and scholarship opportunities available. Overall, NUS offers a well-rounded university experience with modern facilities and a strong emphasis on global engagement. Overall, my experience at NUS has been enriching, and I highly recommend it to anyone seeking a world-class education in a dynamic and inclusive environment.




On Campus

high cost of living

The cost of living at the National University of Singapore (NUS) is quite high for Chinese citizens, especially when compared to living expenses in China. Accommodation, food, and transportation expenses are significant, with rent for a room in on-campus housing ranging from S$400 to S$1000 per month. While there are affordable food options on campus, dining out can be expensive. However, the quality of education at NUS is excellent, with top-notch faculty and resources available to students. The university ranks among the best in Asia and offers a wide range of programs, ensuring a high standard of education. As for student life, NUS has a vibrant campus with numerous clubs, societies, and events to cater to various interests. Chinese students can find a sense of community through cultural groups, while also engaging in activities with local and international students. Overall, despite the high cost of living, NUS provides a diverse and enriching educational experience for Chinese students.




On Campus

dedicated staff

I am a local student studying at the National University of Singapore, I can confidently say that this institution truly lives up to its reputation as one of the best universities in the world. What I appreciate the most about NUS is the quality of education that is offered here. The professors are dedicated to helping students succeed. The curriculum is rigorous and challenging, but it is also very rewarding as it equips us with the knowledge and skills. I really lik the campus itself. It is well-maintained and equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. The campus is also vibrant and bustling with various activities and events. Furthermore, NUS has a strong emphasis on research and innovation, which is evident in the many groundbreaking research projects that are being conducted here. As a student, I feel proud to be part of an institution that is at the forefront of pushing boundaries and making significant contributions to various fields of study.




On Campus

dynamic student population

The diverse and dynamic student population at the National University of Singapore greatly enriches the overall academic experience for me. Interacting with peers from different cultural backgrounds and perspectives broadens my understanding of the world and fosters a truly global mindset. The diverse student body also creates a vibrant campus environment, with a plethora of cultural events, clubs, and activities that cater to a wide range of interests. This diversity not only enhances the social aspect of student life but also promotes collaboration and innovation in academic pursuits. The varied perspectives and experiences of my classmates challenge me to think critically and approach problems from different angles, ultimately contributing to a more holistic and well-rounded education.




On Campus

numerous opportunities

Studying at the National University of Singapore has been a mind-blowing experience. The rigorous curriculum challenges me to think critically and expand my intellectual horizons. The professors are world-renowned experts in their fields, providing unparalleled guidance and mentorship. The campus is vibrant and conducive to learning, fostering a sense of community among students. The numerous opportunities for research and extracurricular activities have enriched my academic journey. Overall, my time at NUS has been both challenging and rewarding, preparing me for a successful future. I recommend the university to other students




On Campus

expert faculty

I can confidently say that I am proud to be part of such a prestigious institution. NUS offers world-class education with top-notch facilities and resources. The professors are experts in their field and are dedicated to helping us succeed. The campus is beautiful and conducive to learning, with a vibrant student life that offers numerous clubs and activities to get involved in. However, there are some drawbacks to attending NUS. The workload can be overwhelming at times, with heavy course loads and demanding assignments. Additionally, the competitive nature of some programs can create a stressful environment for students. The bureaucracy and red tape can also be frustrating, making it difficult to navigate certain administrative processes. I recommend NUS because it is a fantastic university that provides a high-quality education.