4 signs you’re ready to enrol in an MBA programme

What can make you stand out as a strong MBA candidate?

By Aisyah Liliana 

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Are you thinking of pursuing an MBA? There are plenty of good reasons to do so — this postgraduate certification can increase your salary and job prospects – especially if you graduate from a top business school. It can also give professionals a platform to widen their professional network, advance their skill set or help them shift careers.

There are throngs of universities offering full-time and part-time MBA programmes across the globe, so the world is truly your oyster. But before you commit your time and thousands of dollars on a postgraduate certification, how can you decide whether you make a good MBA candidate? 

Despite the swathes of programme options available, each business school will have different criteria that would make you an eligible candidate.

Here are some worth considering:

Having a strong academic foundation

Most schools require candidates to have at least a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from a recognised institution, and will also look at your academic performance. Some schools, such as INSEAD, note that they may waive this requirement in “exceptional circumstances” for outstanding candidates with substantial professional experience. While some MBA applicants have an advanced degree, that is not typically a prerequisite.

Your work experience

Broadly speaking, most MBA programmes require candidates to have several years of work experience under their belt. Some note that it’s a minimum of two to three years, but you may want to check with your prospective university.  

 It’s worth noting that some admission committees may look at other parts of your application if you have less work experience than the average applicant to see where you stand out.


Your graduate admissions test score

While many business schools require candidates to submit their GMAT or GRE score, it helps to do some homework and find out what the average score is for your prospective institution. For example, the 2019 class average GMAT score for the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and Columbia University’s Columbia Business School is 732, 723 and 727 respectively.

Some institutions, such as the University of Chicago Booth Business School, do not require a minimum GMAT or GRE score for any applicant to be considered for admission for their full-time MBA programme.

In a similar vein, take note that your GMAT and GRE score is not the be-all and end-all. While having a high score on the graduate admissions test can work favourably on your MBA application, other elements of your application are also equally important to the admissions committee. Despite that, that shouldn’t mean that you don’t work hard to obtain a competitive score on your test.


Language requirements

Are you a prospective international student who is planning to enrol in an MBA programme in an English-speaking country or institution? You’ll need to ensure that you have the language chops to enrol if English is not your native language.

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the academic version of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Pearson Test of English (PTE) is among the three major English language proficiency exams that you could take to test your ability to speak and understand English.

Some institutions may waive this requirement if you obtained your degree from an English-speaking institution or are a permanent resident of a country where English is the official language.

At the end of the day, the admissions criteria for each programme varies according to the institution. Whether or not you successfully enrol in an MBA programme can also depend on many other factors, including your letters of recommendation, your leadership and interpersonal skills, co-curricular involvement as well as how well you perform during your interview, which can bolster your application, even if not all of them are required.