When you’re ready to rise to your next career level, obtaining a Master’s of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree can put you several steps ahead of the competition. Here is a quick guide to understanding admission requirements and necessary preparation before you start classes:
What Is an M.B.A. Candidate?
Before applying for an M.B.A program, it’s a good idea to take a step back and consider whether an M.B.A. is the right path for you.
First, think about your career goals. Many people seek an M.B.A. to reach a managerial or executive level while others might earn the degree to develop more cross-functional skills that help them excel in a current job. Others may also see the degree as a launching point for an entrepreneurial dream or to make a major career change.
If you’ve decided to become an M.B.A. candidate, the next step is to look at the requirements of the programs that you’re comparing to determine what needs to be done before you apply.
It is important to revise your resume so that it reflects your top academic and professional successes. A resume shouldn’t just be a list of where you’ve worked and studied. Instead, it presents an opportunity to include accomplishments with specifics. If any of your achievements can be quantified, be sure to include those figures.
Learn as much as you can about the program you’re considering, especially the curriculum. Then, tailor your resume based on those focus areas, which will show an admissions director that you’re a good match for the program.i
Letters of Recommendation
Often times, applicants must submit letters of recommendation attesting to the applicant’s intellectual attributes and ability to complete the program. Usually drawn from executives or previous professors, these letters reinforce your application by providing details about your personal attributes and work experience.
Business schools tend to prefer professional recommendations over academic ones, therefore, try to get recommendations from a current supervisor. Make the process easier by discussing what you’re highlighting in your application and make suggestions about certain projects or qualities you want to showcase. Also, give your recommenders a copy of your resume so they can draw on those accomplishments.ii
Applicants are required to submit a statement that reflects an interest in the program as well as personal and professional goals. As an M.B.A. candidate, this is one of the most crucial aspects of the application because it showcases a great deal about you, including your communication skills, critical reasoning and enthusiasm for pursuing the degree.
Particularly important to include in this essay is information about your work experience. It’s an opportunity to showcase what your experience has taught you and how it’s developed your skills as a business leader.iii
The GMAT is a standardized exam designed to predict how well you would perform academically as an M.B.A. candidate. The majority of graduate business schools require GMAT scores for admission, and each school sets its own policies regarding what type of score you must achieve to be considered for a degree program.
For the test, you can expect to be measured in four broad skill areas:
- Analytical writing: This is commonly called the essay section. You will be given one writing prompt, usually in the form of a business scenario, and asked how you would respond to the situation. This is designed to test your writing abilities and critical reasoning skills.
- Integrated reasoning: There are 12 multiple choice questions that combine analytical, quantitative and verbal reasoning problems you need to solve.
- Quantitative reasoning: There are 37 multiple choice questions that ask you to solve certain problems that are often found in business situations.
- Verbal reasoning: There are 41 multiple choice questions that test your critical reasoning, reading comprehension and understanding of standard written English.
There are numerous GMAT study guides available as well as test prep courses that can help you with practice questions and writing drills.iv
With a solid statement, your GMAT scores and other admission requirements, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a top M.B.A. candidate.
Your Smartest Investment is You
i“5 Questions to answer before writing your resume.” Accepted.com. http://blog.accepted.com/5-mba-resume-tips/ (accessed October 19, 2016).
ii“How to get a great letter of recommendation for your M.B.A. application.” The Princeton Review. http://www.princetonreview.com/business-school-advice/letters-of-recommendation (accessed October 19, 2016).
iii“20 Tips for a stellar M.B.A. essay.” The Princeton Review. http://www.princetonreview.com/business-school-advice/mba-essay-tips (accessed October 19, 2016).
iv“Official GMAT exam website: Prepare & plan for business school.” M.B.A.com. http://www.mba.com/us (accessed October 19, 2016).