The MBA Application Process

By Kevin Branigan - Last update

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The MBA application process is rigorous. To gain a place on an course, prospective students will need a degree and work experience as well as an essay and more. We look at the process here.

Undergraduate Degree

You will need an undergraduate degree. This does not necessarily have to be a degree in business or a business-related subject. MBA providers often recruit candidates with a variety of different degrees and working backgrounds. You will need to have official documentation of your qualification and to submit a copy of your degree as part of your application. Some courses won’t only consider candidates with just an undergraduate degree. Many prefer candidates who can provide evidence of their working career as well as academic achievements and professional qualifications.

Work Experience 

As a general rule, you need a minimum of three years’ professional experience. This experience often excludes summer placements as well as part-time or temporary work. MBAs are a career progression or change tool, therefore an understanding of working in a business is necessary. As a result, most universities will not accept a candidate immediately after their undergraduate degree. To document your work experience, ask someone who knows you well in a professional capacity, to write a reference letter. This should contain information about your personality, work ethic, leadership potential, academic record, as well as your professional experience and career accomplishments.

Admissions Essay

Your will have to submit a personal admissions essay. This will be similar to a cover letter for a job application. You will have to write about yourself, as well as why you want to do an MBA and what you hope to achieve by completing the course. You may also have to write a response to a specific statement. Universities use these essays to establish your values and goals as well as what has guided your professional and academic career.

Graduate Management Admissions Test

If you are doing a (GMAT)MBA, then you must take the Graduate Management Admissions Test and submit your score as part of the application process. The GMAT is a test designed by the Graduate Management Admissions Council, often used by business schools as an admissions criterion for graduate management programmes. It assesses a person’s analytical abilities as well as their writing, quantitative and verbal skills.

The test comprises four sections:

Quantitative – this section assesses your ability to reason quantitatively and solve quantitative problems.

– this section assesses your ability to read as well as comprehend written material from areas such as social sciences, history, physical sciences and business.

Integrated Reasoning
– this section assesses your ability to evaluate data presented in multiple formats from multiple sources.

Analytical Writing Assessment
– this section assesses your ability to produce a written analysis of an argument, in addition to a critique of said argument.

The GMAT scores range between 200 and 800. Usually business schools require a minimum score between 500 – 600.

Other Exams

  • Graduate Records Examination (GRE). Most schools now accept a Graduate Records Examination (GRE) score in lieu of a GMAT score. The GRE contains more of a focus on definitions and vocabulary as oppose to the GMAT’s emphasis on logic and reason.
  • If English is not your first language you will also need to provide evidence of your standard of English comprehension. Knowledge of additional languages is a plus to candidates applying.


Kevin Branigan

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