We spoke to business school experts, MBA students, and alums to find out how to get into business school in the upcoming admissions cycle.
1. Start your MBA application early to get into business school
Not only will starting the application process early reduce the stress associated with applying to MBA programs, being prepared and proactive can help you to lower the costly MBA price tag.
Some business schools offer ‘Early Bird’ discounts and MBA scholarship opportunities for early applicants. For example, ESMT Berlin only offers scholarships to its first three rounds of applicants while WHU Otto Beisheim School of Management offers approximately a $5k reduction in tuition fees for successful early applicants.
For international applicants, who must also submit visa applications, applying early for your MBA provides enough time to prepare these documents before starting the program.
Business schools also tend to start filling up their cohort from the first round of applications, so starting the MBA application process early maximizes your chances of gaining a coveted spot.
“Applying early is important for your business school applications as it shows serious intent and organizational skills to the admission committees. It also conveys that this business school is your first preference, which increases your chances of acceptance,” says Daniela Weill, admissions officer at GBSB Global Business School.
2. Remember to work hard to ace the GMAT
Start studying early and pay attention to the average GMAT score at your top choice business schools so you remain clear on what score to aim for. Preparing for the GMAT will also help you to feel ready for the rigorous nature of an MBA program.
“We always recommend that applicants start preparing for the GMAT as early as possible, that they use only official GMAT resources in their prep, and that they retake the exam if there is potential to increase their overall score, even by a small margin,” says David White from Menlo Coaching.
3. Reach out to MBA students, alums, and faculty
Connecting with students, alums, and faculty at your chosen business school before or during the application will show your commitment to the school. It will also help build your MBA network, and help you focus your career goals and what you want to gain from studying an MBA.
“Reaching out to alumni to ask about the program gave me invaluable insights about the school culture and program that I wouldn’t have found elsewhere. This helped me understand more about the program design and I used this in my essay and interview to show why it was a good fit for me,” says Seerat Sindhu, MBA student at Imperial College Business School.
4. Be yourself and show your personality to maximize your chances of getting into business school
The MBA application process isn’t just about highlighting your professional qualifications—it’s also important to highlight your personality and what makes you unique. This helps admissions committees understand what you can bring to the MBA classroom.
Make an effort to build your personal brand and show the value you can bring to the school.
“Pay attention to the application essay. It tells the story of who you are and what you want out of the program. Writing a compelling story sets you apart from a pool of qualified applicants,” says Fairon Quick, MBA student at Durham University Business School.
5. Be clear about your career goals to get into business school
Business schools want to know that you have thought about your future and career path post-MBA. Being clear about your goals will indicate to admissions teams that you’re ambitious and committed to working hard while on the program.
“I did a significant amount of research into past alumni and potential career opportunities for MBA grads. I also researched the culture and values at the school and picked out specific elements of the course that would help further my career. Have a clear idea of your goals so you’re prepared for any questions [admissions teams] could ask,” says Aatiq Ghulam, MBA student at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business.
6. Thoroughly research the business school you're applying to
In your MBA application, it’s essential to show that you have spent time researching the program and target business school. You should make each application tailored to the school by emphasizing key points about the school’s values, program structure, and opportunities throughout.
“Read a lot about the business school you’re aiming for; the effort will pay itself. It’s important to show why this university is a good fit in terms of the program itself, location, and how it will further your career,” says Vicente Vicuna, MBA student at EMST Berlin.
7. Choose the right people for your recommendation letters
The MBA recommendation letter provides admissions committees an outside perspective of you and your professional ability. It’s important to select people who have worked closely with you such as previous or current employers or even academic professors.
The recommender will provide insights into your strengths, weaknesses, and skills that align with what the MBA program expects of you. Selecting the people who know you and your professional strengths best will ensure you receive a great recommendation letter.
“Admissions committees rely heavily on the perspectives of your recommenders and in many cases, it can be the deciding factor in your application,” says Megan Stiphany, admissions consultant at Stacy Blackman Consulting.
8. To get into business school, remember to ask questions during the MBA interview
The MBA interview is a chance for business schools to get to know you even better and hear more about why you’re a good fit for the MBA program. Asking carefully thought-out questions will emphasize your interest in the program and show admissions teams that you’re clued up on intricate aspects of the program and keen to learn even more.
“Interviewers appreciate it when you ask a lot of questions but make sure the answers can’t just be found online! I also found the LinkedIn profile of my interviewer before meeting them, which helped me connect on a more personal level,” says Seerat from Imperial College Business School.
Researching the business school and seeking out advice is an important part of your MBA application journey. Find out everything you need to know about the MBA application process in our MBA Application Guide 2022-2023.