8 MBA requirements to check off your to-do list for 2021

2020-21 will be extremely competitive in comparison to previous years. Staying on top of requirements and preparing in advance can give you the confidence you need to stand out.

By U2B Staff 

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Today, admission consultants are reporting that they are seeing massive increases in both interest and applications coming in from MBA aspirants. 

According to the findings of the Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) annual Application Trends Survey, among the total responding sample of 1,085 graduate business school programmes, 67% report that they received more applications for 2020 entry than they did in 2019.

Among full-time MBA programs specifically, 69% report increased volumes, including 35% percent of programmes that report applications were “up significantly” (up 21% or more vs. 2019).

By programme world region, 74% of US full-time programmes were up, and 42% were up significantly. 72% of European full-time programs were up and 31% were up significantly. Most Asia-Pacific programmes were also up by 53%, but only 11% significantly.

A spike in numbers comes with competition and in a challenging admissions cycle, extra prep is what you will need to stand out in a competitive applicant pool.

The key is to dedicate time to the application process, which will always be worth it despite its intensity. Here’s a list of what you need to check off your to-do list to begin your MBA journey:

1. Pick the right MBA programme 

When it comes to selecting an MBA programme, there are various options at hand. You can opt for an online MBA or an on-campus programme. Your decision should be made based on your schedule and responsibilities. 

An online MBA will give you the option to gain qualification from a university from anywhere in the world without the need to physically attend classes or travel. If you wish to use pursuing education as an opportunity to gain an international perspective in the process, you could choose to apply to an on-campus, full-time programme offered by an overseas university. 

2. Secure a good GMAT or GRE score

Most business schools require candidates to have sat for either the GMAT or GRE exam and a good score is incredibly important.

To prepare for either choice, rigorous preparation is recommended. For either exam, test scores are valid for five years. 


3. Prepare your documents

One of the main prerequisites for an MBA application is an accredited undergraduate degree. Most business schools do not require a major in business for admission to an MBA programme, and are typically looking for students with diverse academic backgrounds to join their ranks. 

Take your time in preparing your transcript as evidence of your degree and if you are applying for a programme abroad, you will need to prepare copies of your passport and proof-of-identity. 

4. Prepare your resume

What proves that you are an ideal candidate? Which part of your CV should stand out as a unique selling point? Strong professional experience speaks volumes to admissions officers, and by assessing this they will be able to determine how ready you are to broaden your skill set with an MBA. 

5. Prepare your recommendation letters

Personal endorsements are known to heavily increase the likeliness of acceptance. Be sure to select someone who is familiar with your personal achievements and connect with this person well in advance. They will need time to prepare a draft and waiting till the last minute will cause unnecessary stress. Be sure to give them at least four weeks to reply to your request. 

Do not forget to check in advance if the business school you are applying to has specified if recommendations need to be in a certain format. If so, make sure your recommendation letters are in line with these specifications.


6. Prepare to write a superb MBA essay

A captivating essay will tell officers who you are and why you belong in their programme. Be sure to read the essay question carefully, be clear, state your past and future goals and highlight how an MBA will help you achieve these goals. 

Do not forget to do your research on the institution you are applying to and sell yourself as a candidate that is sure to add value to their mission and vision. Ask a professional for honest input once you’ve completed your first draft and make the necessary amendments before submission. 

7. Provide proof of your English proficiency

If English is not your first language, you will need to take an accredited English test to prove proficiency. The most well known and widely accepted exams are TOEFL and IELTS. 

If you need to brush up on your English skills, participate in a preparation course. If you have earned your undergraduate degree from an institution at which English is the language of instruction, proving English proficiency might not be something to worry too much about. Be aware of what the university expects and which exams they recognise before making your decision. 

8. Be aware of MBA application deadlines and fees

Depending on the institution, deadlines and admission fees vary. It is important to check which dates should be highlighted and how much money should be set aside to make your application payment to avoid delaying the process once you are ready. 

In 2020, business schools and their postgraduate programmes are showing unprecedented flexibility to help students keep their plans on track during these challenging times of uncertainty. According to, among the more than 250 business school programmes that have provided admissions updates and 52% have extended their application deadlines. 

Be sure to check university websites for these updates.