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Full time International MBA Application Requirements & Checklist

Acquiring an MBA degree is one of the best ways to push your career ahead in the 21st century! This is why thousands of students across the country apply to B-schools each year both in India and abroad.

While you may be acquainted with the process of applying for an MBA at an Indian university, the process is not the same for most B-schools abroad. Depending on the region and the schools itself, the process can differ. But, some of it also stays constant such as the requirement for GMAT or GRE scores.

In this article you will find an exhaustive list of requirements that you as an MBA candidate will need to fulfill, and furthermore, you will understand what it really takes to prepare your academic and personal profile as an applicant to top-tier MBA schools!

  1. Academic requirements
  2. Apart from your school education, almost any B-school in a foreign country will require you to have completed a 4 year long undergraduate course. Certain schools also accept applicants with a 3 year UG degree or its equivalent. The GPA of your undergraduate course is an important part of your application.

    The other important aspect is your GMAT score. These two scores will form the foundation block of whether you stand a chance at cracking one of the top-tier MBA programs!

    Keep in mind that the requirement for these scores is never monolithic, rather it’s a dynamic range. But if you are applying to the top-tier MBA programs, then the class profiles will not widely vary either.

    Here’s a look at the class profile from Columbia University’s 2020 MBA batch –


    Applications Received 6971
    Admitted 1130
    GMAT Scores (average) 726
    GMAT Scores (range) 580–780
    Undergraduate GPA (average) 3.6
    Work Experience (average) 5 years
    Average Age 28
    Age Range 23-41
    Women 40%
    International Citizens 44%

    And to help you understand how the requirements changes over time, here’s the average GMAT scores for top MBA programs over a period of two years –


    B-School Average GMAT Score 2018 Average GMAT Score 2017
    University of Chicago – Booth School of Business  730 726
    Kellogg School of Management  732 728
    Harvard Business School 730 729
    University of Pennsylvania – Wharton School 732 730
    Stanford University – Graduate School of Business  737 737
    UCLA – UCLA Anderson School of Management 715 715
    University of Virginia – Darden School of Business 713 712
    Columbia Business School 725 718

    What both these tables tell you is that there is a certain level of academic requirement when it comes to the top MBA programs. While applicants with a lower GMAT score and GPA are also able to secure a seat, it requires a strong application in order to do so. If you are not satisfied with your GMAT score then you should definitely attempt the exam again to try and increase your score!

  4. Since you will be applying to a foreign university you will be required to prove your skills in the English language. Based on the region and the particular B-school, the two most commonly accepted tests are TOEFL and IELTS.

    Keep in mind that these test scores are only valid for a certain time period. So, if the score expires by the time you are applying for your MBA then you will be required to retake the test.

  5. Essays
  6. Almost every B-school will ask you to attempt 2 or more essay questions as a part of your application. These questions are quite open-ended and their purpose is to find out what makes you stand out as an applicant. You will be provided the questions beforehand and the way you choose to answer them will have a huge impact on your chances of getting selected!

    While some of these essays are straightforward others can be deceiving! Here are some of the essay questions you can expect from top-tier B-schools if you are applying for MBA in 2021:

    • How have events of the past year influenced the impact you would like to make in your community, career, or both? (UCLA)
    • What are your career goals over the next 3-5 years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (Columbia)
    • As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program? (Harvard)
    • What is the professional objective that will guide your career choice after your MBA, and how will the HEC MBA contribute to the achievement of this objective?
      (HEC Paris)
    • Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices.
    • What matters most to you, and why?
      (Stanford GSB)

    You will find tons of guides online to help you understand the nature of these essay questions, and you can also opt for a professional MBA consultant to help improve your approach towards the MBA essays. Another means to writing the perfect MBA application essay is to read through
    professional essay analysis blogs.

    Consider these questions to be a crucial part of your application process!

  7. Extra-curriculars
  8. The personality you bring to the table is something that you need to prove in your application as well. Top B-schools are always looking to add leaders and go-getters to their classes, so, if you have achieved any significant milestone in your academic or professional life then you should present them in your application.

    From being good at team sports to representing your city or college, there are certain key extracurriculars that can help you get a top MBA admit! Learn more about which
    extracurriculars can help build you a top-tier MBA application.

  9. Job experience
  10. Since MBA is a very practical and transformative experience rather than a course where you learn a ton of theories, most B-schools do not accept students without prior job experience. Most of the top schools require candidates to have at least 4-5 years of full-time job experience. Certain schools also settle for 3 years of experience and others are known to accept part-time experiences as well.

    However, B-schools also consider qualitative experience alongside quantitative experience. So, if you have quickly risen up the ladder at your workplace or achieved large goals in a short period of time; you should definitely consider applying even if the total length of your job-experience falls short.

    Here’s a quick look at the work experienced required by the top B-schools in order to apply for their MBA programs!


    B-School Average Age Work Experience Required (months)
    Stanford GSB 27 53
    Chicago (Booth) 28 60
    Harvard Business School 27 55
    Pennsylvania (Wharton) 28 60
    Northwestern (Kellogg) 28 61
    MIT (Sloan) 28 59
    Columbia Business School 28 60
    UC-Berkeley (Haas) 28 65
    Dartmouth (Tuck) 28 63
    Yale School of Management 28 58
    Virginia (Darden) 27 61

    If you have a good GMAT score and GPA coupled with good extra-curriculars, and you have also achieved a certain level of experience within your professional field but the total time-period is less than what is required, there are chances that you can crack one of the top-MBA programs! On the other hand, if your GMAT score is not perfect but you have worked in some of the companies in your industry, you might get selected too.

  11. Letters of Recommendation
  12. As part of your application you will have to present a set of recommendations from your teachers, workplace superiors, or both. Usually the required number of LoRs is two, but certain B-schools also accept a single recommendation letter. And even if the application does not ask for a LoR, it is always better to present one as it may help improve your chances. Read our blog on
    how you can build the perfect letter of recommendation for a MBA application

    Why MBA?

    “A very common concept that should be part of everyone’s MBA checklist is an understanding of their short-term and long-term goals. And furthermore, an explanation of how these goals can be achieved through the MBA program that you are applying to.”

    Apart from these aforementioned criteria, every candidate should ask themselves this basic question before applying for an MBA!

    A MBA course is not something that is going to come by easily, especially if you are aiming for the top-tier B-schools! So, you need to be sure about how a MBA degree will help carve your career path, and what roles do you plan to serve after getting the degree. A very common concept that should be part of everyone’s MBA checklist is an understanding of their short-term and long-term goals. And furthermore, an explanation of how these goals can be achieved through the MBA program that you are applying to.

    Keep in mind that for a B-school such as Harvard or Wharton a high GMAT score and job experience is already expected. So, the best chance you have of standing out is by creating a narrative about your educational, professional, and personal journey. At the same time, your experience and mindset as a go-getter will always count as an added factor in your application.

    If you are at a stage where you have never really asked yourself why MBA except to have an international educational and professional experience, then here are some important aspects for you to consider –
    Why MBA? Don’t Use MBA As An Escape Plan

    B-schools in the USA, UK, Europe, etc. provide both one year and two year MBA courses. Make sure you choose the right course for your needs, and your future course will be set!

    Now that you know what you need in order to apply,
    start researching on the B-schools
    of your choice right away!

    Read Also:

    How to Get Top MBA Scholarships Despite a Low GMAT Score

    Cracking Wharton with a No brand background

    How an MBA Applicant cracked HKUST with a low GMAT score?

    From 2 Rejections to Top 10 US Admits with USD 1,90,000 Scholarships

For over 15+ years as an Entrepreneur, and India’s Top Educationist, Jatin has led a range of initiatives in the Education Industry. In this role, he has created many successful educational services and products geared towards generating success for professionals aspiring to join IVY League and global Top Tier Universities for MBA Programs, Masters Programs, and undergraduate courses. He is the Founder and CEO of PythaGURUS Education, and has been recognized as a thought leader in the Higher education sector. Economic Times, Hindustan Times, Times of India, India Today, Business Today, Tribune, and many other national newspapers have recognized his work, and have given him numerous opportunities to be a regular columnist. He has also served as a panelist for NDTV, and other national news channels.

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