Minimum eligibility requirements to apply to a top business school are typically published on each MBA program’s admissions website. However, a comprehensive list of all of the requirements that admissions officers search for when evaluating your MBA application is more difficult to find.
Don’t be dismayed if you can’t check off all of these criteria; who can? Nevertheless, the more checkmarks you can claim, the higher your chances will be of earning an acceptance letter to one of the top-ranked business schools.
Fulfilling the MBA Prerequisites
You can also think of the following list of MBA admission criteria as prescriptive. If you are planning to apply for an MBA in the future, use this list to identify your profile’s strengths and weaknesses. After determining your weak spots, you can go to work eliminating them, thereby making your MBA candidacy stronger.
- Undergraduate degree from a school with an excellent academic reputation
- High cumulative GPA and GPA in major
- Above-average performance in quantitative or business-oriented courses
- GMAT, GRE or EA score above the school’s median
- TOEFL score above the school’s median (if applicable)
- Clear evidence of professional advancement (e.g., promotions)
- Visible progress made in the direction of career goals
- Employers who are known to have very high hiring standards
- Excellent references/recommendation letters from direct supervisors
- Achievements at work that showcase your managerial potential
- Evidence of leadership at work
- Evidence of leadership outside of work
- Self-awareness about your leadership capabilities and development needs
- “Servant-Leader” leadership style as opposed to an autocratic or self-serving style
- Career goals reflect a sense of purpose: passion, meaning, and significance
- The dots connect between prior skills/experiences and post-MBA career goals
- Convincing and crystal-clear motives for pursuing an MBA
- 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”)
- International/cross-cultural life experience
- A great fit with the school’s culture
- A convincing case for pursuing an MBA from each school you are applying to
Now that you know the qualities, competencies, and quantitative measures that MBA admissions officers evaluate within an MBA application, it’s time to assess which criteria you fulfill and what might still be missing from your candidacy. Often, you can make up for weaknesses in one aspect of your profile with strengths in another.
Alternatively, if you start the application preparation process early enough, you can take deliberate steps to improve upon these weaknesses. In our article entitled Strengthen Your MBA Candidacy, we share strategies for addressing any concerning aspects of your MBA application so that you can increase your odds of being accepted.
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