What you need to know about the MBA admissions process

Here’s what you need to know about the MBA admissions process
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Whether you’re ready to apply to an MBA program or still undecided, having a clear view of the application process can increase your chances of nabbing an offer—and decrease the likelihood of cramming to meet deadlines. Here’s how you can prepare your MBA application with confidence. 

Do your research

Canada offers more MBA programs than ever before to meet growing demand. While the upside is students can tailor their education to their interests, the downside is it can make narrowing your selection more difficult. A helpful strategy is to get clear on your professional goals, budget and desired time commitment before you research. 

Most schools offer online MBAs—either exclusively or as an alternative to their full-time programs—that cater to students who prefer to complete the program while working full-time. For a more immersive education experience, a full-time MBA program completed in a shorter, albeit more intense, timeframe may be the better choice. 

With many different specializations offered—from sports to media and climate change to global leadership—you can closely align your education with your professional aspirations. Thorough research is key, and universities are responsive to queries, encouraging prospective applicants to attend information sessions, connect with alums and visit campuses. 

Academic requirements

Most MBA programs require completing a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 (out of 4.0) for your final two years. For more competitive applicant pools, expect the GPA score to be higher. 

If you haven’t yet, schedule your GMAT and start preparing. Most programs expect a minimum GMAT score of around 550. However, a higher score will improve your chances of acceptance into a program, and can offset a less-than-stellar GPA. Some schools offer exceptions to submitting a GMAT score, and most accept a GRE in place of a GMAT.

Get personal

Universities take great pride in their MBA graduates and are looking for applicants who will excel in the rigorous program and already have skills on which to build top business leaders. How you convey your potential is essential to the application process. Want to set yourself apart? Your opportunity is through your letter of intent, resume and, in some cases, additional questions to answer by video or in writing. Some universities may even ask for an interview.

The letter of intent should articulate your motivation for pursuing an MBA, as well as describe notable career and academic accomplishments that indicate you’ll add a valuable contribution to the program. Angeline Ng, an MBA program assistant for the University of New Brunswick, emphasizes the importance of well-written essays “that effectively convey your motivations, aspirations and how the MBA program aligns with your goals.”

Although not a prerequisite for every MBA program, applicants tend to have at least two years of work experience. Your resume is a key consideration and your work history should reflect readiness for the demands of the MBA program. “Applicants are assessed for depth, breadth and relevance of their work experience,” says Ng. “Consideration is given to involvement in activities that demonstrate leadership, teamwork and community engagement.”

References are expected in your submission, and lining them up can take time if you haven’t collected them already through your academic and work experiences. Universities typically request one professional and one academic recommendation. “These should be individuals who know you well and can speak to your abilities, achievements and potential,” says Ng.

Cramming to complete your applications is not recommended—even if it was your lifeline through undergraduate studies. MBA admissions committees expect thoughtfully prepared submissions. A well-articulated letter of intent and impressive resume can be the deciding factor that gets you into your MBA program of choice.