Getting admission in an MBA program (USA) could be frustrating. The path to an admission is so tedious that it is often hard to hold the nerve. However, an MBA degree can definitely boost your career and salary. For instance, the median salary is 100K! So, I hope that you won’t mind taking the necessary steps for a journey of a lifetime. Here are the steps that you should follow:
Choosing a Business School:
Obviously, the first step is to choose a business school but this is not so simple as there are thousands of business schools in the USA. So how you will choose your business school? High-ranked business schools have very high tuition fees and a top-class profile requirement, so even though you have a very good profile, you will probably do not want to spend a huge chunk of savings for a high-ranked MBA program. But, there are exceptions; many top business schools offer a scholarship, and some people also get reimbursement from their companies. So, yes, if you have a very good profile you should try for a scholarship. I will talk about scholarship just in a few minutes. But, what about a person who is coming from a different country or what if he/she does not want to spend money or does not have savings or does not have a high-profile to earn an MBA degree? Your best bet is to go for a low or mid-ranked business schools that provide a decent scholarship. If you are planning to choose a low-ranked or mid-ranked business school, you must choose your school wisely to avoid any unwanted financial crisis in the middle of your MBA study. There are quite a few websites which provide the list of top business schools. I would suggest you to check this website: List of Business Schools in the US.
As you can see that the tuition fee is very high for top business schools, which you could not probably afford, you should focus on schools which provide a scholarship. So, keep scrolling on the website to find some business schools that provide scholarships. You have to do a thorough research here. This will take some time; at least a month or two, depending on your search skills.
So, What would be your first step to choosing a business school? Let’s talk about the process now.
If you are going to a low-ranked or mid-ranked business school, you need to know the following info:
- Admission requirements, tuition fees and scholarship options ( whether they offer full or partial). Do a calculation to see if you can support yourself with the mentioned scholarship/funds
- Business school accreditation from an institute
- Summer Internship opportunities (keep in mind that you cannot work full-time during the school sessions if you are an international student, though there are exceptions, which you need find from the international office of your chosen school)
- ‘Work in abroad’ option, which will allow you to work in other countries to boost your skills
- On-campus hiring option, which helps home or International students to find a job
- Review of your business schools at Review; you should check the following info about your business school (you may not find all these info but this info may help you to make a better decision).
- the class size
- percentage of students receiving a job after graduation
- starting salary after graduation
- acceptance rate
If your chosen business schools fulfill the above-mentioned criteria, make notes on them; for instance contact info, deadline etc. After finding the right business schools, primarily choose at least 10-15 business schools.
Admission requirement analysis:
Let’s have a look at the admission requirements; what business schools really want. For most of the business schools, the requirements are the following:
- CGPA should be at least 3.00. If your CGPA is below 3.00, you need to contact with your chosen business school. (some business schools allow students whose CGPA is below 3.00, if the students hold an overall strong profile.)
- At least 2 years of work experience in a relevant field is a requirement for most of the business schools. However, there are schools which do not require work experiences for admission; they accept fresh graduates. Although they do not require work experience, you still need to have some kind of work experience such as volunteering to improve your profile.
- GMAT(for most business schools) and TOEFL (for international students) are mandatory for almost all of the business schools in the USA (there are some exceptions). A decent score in both GMAT and TOEFL does make a difference. IELTS is now also widely accepted, but make sure that your business school accepts it.
- For some business schools, extracurricular activities is a requirement so make sure you do join some local communities or clubs such as debate club, chess club etc.
- An updated resume is a must for every applicant. It has to be tailored according to the requirements of the business school. Make sure you do not have any grammatical error in your resume. If you are not sure, you can contact with some professionals to make it organized and error-free.
- A reference letter is also an important factor. A reference letter from a reputed institute or a company will increase your chance of admission. Normally, you need two reference letters but sometimes business schools ask for three reference letters. It is better to submit one academic and one professional reference letter. You have to make sure that your reference letter includes your performance and responsibilities. You can first make a draft by yourself and then you can ask your referees to include that information.
- Another important criterion for admission is an essay. Different schools have different admission essays. For example, these questions were asked by a business school:
Essay 1: Attitude, skills, and knowledge differentiate people. Elaborate with two examples on how you would differentiate yourself.(max 300 words)
Essay 2: Pick the most significant achievement (professional or personal) you have had and elaborate on the key learning you took away from it. (300 words max)
Many students think that there is hardly any scholarship in MBA and it’s almost impossible to get any scholarship. Not true folks! There are certainly various scholarships available for MBA students. However, the main problem with many students is that they do not score well in the GMAT. So, usually, they are not very qualified to apply for those scholarships. The good news is that many business schools are now accepting GRE score so now you can take the GRE, instead of the tougher GMAT test. To get the scholarship you must enhance your profile. How will you enhance your profile? Let’s have a look.
Joining Online forum:
First and foremost, join Beat the GMAT and GMAT club. These two forums are a comprehensive source of latest information about MBA degree. Links are given below-
They will definitely give you a boost. You can be involved in different types of clubs and communities:
local communities which work for different purposes such as environmental policies, helping poor indigents, fund raising etc
Different clubs such as debating, reciting, fund raising etc.
Sports activities such as football, cricket, tennis etc.
Preparing for the GMAT or GRE:
Good news is that many business schools now accept GRE score. Since GMAT is much harder than GRE (some people may not agree), it is advisable to take GRE test. However, first, you have to contact your graduate admission team to know about their preference. OK, so how to prepare for these tests? There are various sources from where you can be benefitted. My suggestion is to start your GMAT journey from here:
GMAT Study Plan.
Now let’s talk about scoring. If you are looking for a top ranked MBA school then your GMAT score should be 700 +. If your CGPA is low then with a 700 + score, you will most probably get admission in a mid-ranked MBA school with a scholarship. If you have a good CGPA and a moderate GMAT score, 600 +, don’t be frustrated, you will still able to manage some sort of scholarship in low-ranked business schools. Below is a conversion scale which you can use if GRE test is taken instead of GMAT:
converting tool for GRE and GMAT
Work experience in a relevant field is important to receive graduate assistantship position. The more you are experienced the more is your chance to get GA or TA positions. If you are a fresh graduate, try to get some work experience in any field. For instance, do some volunteering or join the local communities. Business schools really want to see those activities in a student.
Still, know some students will say, ‘it’s really hard to get scholarship’. For those, below is a requirement for Graduate Assistantship Position offered by a low-ranked business school:
Be admitted and fully matriculated in a master’s or doctoral program (advanced certificate students are not eligible for this program). Provisionally accepted, conditionally matriculated, and Bridge students are not eligible to apply until the successful completion of their provisional, conditional, or Bridge requirements.
Have submitted official documentation of GMAT scores and all previous transcripts.
Have submitted a complete resume which indicates years of work experience and details that experience
Be a full-time student registered in graduate level courses during each semester of the appointment
Give evidence of excellent communication skills, either through GMAT AWA or TOEFL scores
Have a strong undergraduate, and where applicable, graduate academic background
In determining eligibility for the scholarship, we take prior managerial work experience, GMAT scores (minimum 550, minimum TOEFL score of 100) undergraduate and graduate grade point average (minimum of 3.0 required), letters of recommendation and communication skills into consideration.
And, if you fulfill the requirements they will offer you the following:
For the fall and spring semesters: 10 hours of work – $1,275 for one semester – 6 credits tuition each semester 20 hours of work – $2,550 for one semester – 12 credits tuition each semester.
So, you can see how important is your profile to get a good scholarship in a business school.
Folks if you really want to get admission in a prestigious MBA program, you have to enrich your profile (as described). A strong CGPA with a poor profile will not able to take you to a good MBA program, but a very strong profile with a low CGPA might land you in a high-ranked MBA program with a decent scholarship. Check out this recent MBA ranking and salary of some top ranked business schools which will definitely inspire you.. 🙂
Thank you, everyone, for reading the article. Questions, comments, suggestions are greatly appreciated!