A Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) can be your ticket to impressive salaries, prestigious job titles, and challenging, satisfying careers. So, it’s no surprise that there’s a lot of competition for admissions to MBA programs at the top business schools.
In fact, getting into a good MBA program is so competitive that an entire industry has sprung up to help students with their applications. MBA admissions consultants will help prospective students craft their admissions materials to put their best foot forward – for a price.
You don’t have to hire a consultant to start figuring out whether you have what it takes to succeed in an MBA program, though. We’ve put together a some of the most important information you’ll need in order to get started.
You can also read more at our MBA homepage.
The vast majority of b-school students enter their MBA programs with a bachelor’s degree. While some programs will consider candidates who have extensive work experience in lieu of a bachelor’s degree, the majority of MBA programs consider it to be a bare minimum for admission.
If you got your bachelor’s degree in a major like business, accounting, economics, or another related field, you’ll have a head start compared to students who majored in other disciplines.
That said, other undergrad majors could give you an advantage in some concentrations. For example, if you are applying to an MBA program for healthcare administrators, a healthcare-related bachelor’s degree could be a great asset.
Undergraduate Grade Point Average
If you are applying to a competitive MBA program, your undergraduate GPA could make or break you.
If you are in college now, you should aim to graduate with at least a B+ average, for a GPA of 3.6 or higher. If your GPA is on the lower side, though, don’t panic! High scores on your graduate admissions exams (more on those below) can be a big help in this situation.
As soon as you decide that you want to pursue an MBA, you should start studying for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).
This standardized test was created by GMAC, a global non-profit council of business schools, to test applicants’ aptitude for b-school success. Testing your verbal, quantitative, reasoning and analytical writing skills, the GMAT allows you to demonstrate your readiness for a challenging MBA program.
So, how important is the GMAT? Nine out of ten students admitted to MBA programs submitted GMAT scores as part of their application, and your score on this test can make all the difference in getting into a good school.
In fact, as admissions to the top b-schools get more and more competitive, the average GMAT scores of their incoming classes are rising every year. For example, the average score for incoming MBA students at Wharton was 730 out of 800 in 2016. That means that the average student admitted to this program scored in the top 96th percentile of all test takers!
The Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, is a standardized test for graduate school candidates. Like the ACT or SAT that you may have taken in high school, it tests verbal reasoning and writing along with quantitative reasoning.
Because the GRE is designed to test general knowledge, it’s thought to be a better showcase for candidates who are more skilled in writing and verbal reasoning than they are in math. Many b-schools accept applicants who take the GRE instead of, or in addition to, the GMAT. Others, though, will only consider applications from potential students if they submit GMAT scores.
Whichever standardized test you take, you’ll probably find parts – if not all – of the test to be very challenging! To maximize your chances at a good score, take advantage of the free test preparation materials available online. And if you need extra backup, you could even take a class or hire a tutor to prepare.