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MBA in USA: Learn What You Need to Crack A Top-Tier B-School in USA, Cost Requirements, Scholarships, and more!

The United States offers a range of amazing B-schools to study MBA at. But more importantly, if you land an MBA in a respected American University such as Wharton, Booth, Columbia, etc.; your career path will never waiver again!

Of course, your primary target is also on the A-listers such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, MIT, etc.

Regardless of which university you choose to pursue your MBA from, there is a common path that you must follow to apply. So, read on as we walk you through the various requirements, costs, and process of applying for an MBA in the USA!

Basic Requirements

Educational background

To apply for a MBA degree in an American university you need to have achieved at least 16 years of education. This basically translates to the 10+2 school level followed by a 4 year bachelor’s degree. Some B-schools also accept students who have a 3 year undergrad degree but this not very common.

The next and one of the most important aspects of your application is the GMAT test. To land a good MBA opportunity in the USA you need an average score of above 700. Needless to say, the higher your GMAT score, the better your chances of getting admitted!

Here’s a quick look at the average GMAT scores of the top American B-schools over the past few 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

While it is the combination of both your GMAT score and your GPA that decides your application status, if you have a low GMAT score then you may want to attempt the test again and bring up your rank before applying to the top MBA programs in the USA.


This is the generalized English proficiency test, and this is a compulsory requirement in order to apply for MBA in any American B-school.

Work experience

Almost every MBA program in the United States requires students to have full-time job experience before applying. Depending on the school, the requirement can be between 3 to 5 years of job experience.

Take a look at average work experience required by some of the top B-schools across the world:

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

So, you can obviously tell that the figure is quite varied. The truth is that many top B-schools also consider applications that have qualitative job experience, i.e. quickly achieving milestones or working for 3 years in a Fortune 500 company. So, if you believe you have a strong enough application but you are lacking a few years in work experience, you can still consider applying!

Recommendation letters

You will most likely be required to present one or more letters of recommendation from your university professors, your workplace, or both. Even if the B-school you are applying to did not specify a recommendation letter, it is always better to present one with your application!

Read our article on how you can get the perfect letter of recommendation for your MBA application!

So, what does it take to create an MBA application that will get you into a top-tier MBA program in the USA?

“An understanding of your short-term and long-term goals, the essay questions, and also a top-tier MBA mindset are definitely aspects that you should pay attention to.”

If you have a GPA of over 3.5, a 750+ GMAT score (or its GRE equivalent), and 4+ years of work experience; you should have a strong enough MBA application. But, what you need to understand is that many of these aspects compliment each other. For example, if your GMAT is below 750 but at the same time you have worked at a Fortune 500 company for more than 4 years, then you definitely stand a chance at getting through the top American MBA programs. Similarly, if you have worked for 2-3 years at a small company, but at the same time climbed up the ladder and also have a GMAT score of 750+, you should still apply to the B-schools of your choice!

In this video I go into more details regarding how you can crack a top-tier MBA with a low GMAT or GPA –

How Can I Get a Scholarship with a LOW GMAT and GPA? GMAT Scholarship India

Moreover, these quantifiable aspects are not the only things that make up your MBA application. An understanding of your short-term and long-term goals, the essay questions, and also a top-tier MBA mindset are definitely aspects that you should pay attention to!

While these MBA programs are known for having a high percentile of international students, the competition is stiff. Take a look at the stats for Harvard’s MBA class and you will be able to get a better idea.

average year work experience

My suggestion is that you start preparing from day 1. Start your networking process, if possible do a campus visit, attend seminars organized by your target B-schools, and perhaps re-take the GMAT to improve your score.

Costs Involved

If you are planning higher education in the United States you need to plan ahead!

While the major chunk of the cost is borne by the tuition fee, there are other costs that you need to calculate as well. The primary ones among these include air-travel fare, food, and housing. There are many other smaller costs involved as well, but these are some of the costs that you should prepare for beforehand.

Now, when it comes to the MBA degree in itself the tuition fee can widely vary between $70,000 and $120,000, and even more upwards. To save your searching time, here are the current tuition costs for an MBA degree in some of the top American B-schools.

University Tuition Fees USD INR
Princeton University $53,890 39,22,583
Columbia University $77,376 56,32,098
UCLA  $65,125 47,40,364
Stanford $57,300 41,70,792
Harvard $73,440 53,42,690

There are plenty of scholarships offered by these Universities and you can make use of them to reduce your tuition costs. And there are also various student loans that you can apply for.

Scholarships for MBA in USA

Every B-school in the USA provides a hefty amount of scholarships for their students every year. Top-tier universities such as Harvard and Stanford are known for partially funding the tuition of 50% of every class at an average! So, if you are applying at top-tier schools then always try for the scholarships.

Scholarships can primarily be of two different types, need based and merit based. As the names suggest, the former is granted to students based on their economic background and the latter is provided based on the students’ merit.

Just take a look at the annual scholarships offered by some of the top-tier MBA programs across the world:

School Total Scholarships Average Grant % of MBAs on Scholarship
Harvard Business School $31.5 million $32,000 50%
Wharton $16.9 million* $30,500 33%
Chicago (Booth) $16.3 million* $30,000 60%
Stanford GSB $15.7 million $35,830 52%
Michigan (Ross) $15.4 million $22,360 48%
New York (Stern) $12.8 million $26,400* 62%*
UCLA (Anderson) $12.1 million $25,860 65%
Northwestern (Kellogg) $11.8 million $22,800 35%
Columbia Business School $10.1 million $20,500 46%
Virginia (Darden) $8.4 million $30,800 43%
MIT (Sloan) $8.1 million $28,220 35%
Duke (Fuqua) $7.1 million $20,950 33%
Rice (Jones) $6.7 million $33,320 94%
Yale School of Management $6.2 million $23,028 31%
UC-Berkeley (Haas) $5.8 million $29,060 50%
Cornell (Johnson) $5.7 million $12,000 33%
Dartmouth (Tuck) $5.4 million $27,550 35%
Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) $5.3 million $21,853 57%
Emory (Goizueta) $5.0 million $24,905 57%
Georgetown (McDonough) $3.3 million $30,000 27%

Apart from these scholarships there are also certain private scholarships that you can apply for. The Fullbright Nehru scholarship, provided by the USIEF is one of the best ones to apply for if you are planning your MBA in the USA. There is also the TOEFL scholarship, and various others.

If you are someone who is depending on a scholarship to fulfill their international MBA dreams, then take a look at this video as I provide some key tips regarding how to land a good scholarship amount in top-tier MBA programs –

Application Process

The application procedure for MBA in USA is quite straightforward, and there isn’t a huge difference in the process between the various B-schools. You start off by downloading the form or filling it on the respective website. This will require your GMAT score and your GDP average, and both these factors will play a role in your selection process. You will also have to present your TOEFL certificate as part of your application.

The application will also serve as a personal profile. So, you should make sure to stand out but at the same time not present any unnecessary details! Here are some pro-tips on creating the perfect MBA application!

The next step is to attempt the essays, and this is where you can make your mark! While the primary selection process will be based on your GMAT score, it is your performance in these essays that will largely decide whether you are going to get the call or not. You should prepare thoroughly for these essays as they are not the easiest to attempt!

Lastly, you will be called for an interview round. Once your interview is complete just sit back and wait for the results to arrive!

Final Thoughts

The multicultural society in the United States along with the amazing quality of life makes it one of the best educational destinations! And if you are applying for your MBA in an American B-school then you have definitely chosen the right path to reach your career goals!

Just remember to start preparing for the process and researching the B-schools well ahead in the timeline and you should not face any major roadblocks. There are also many professional admission consultants to help you on your journey, be it through helping you prepare for the essays or providing you insider tips for gaining scholarships. So, don’t be worried about taking their services.

Best of luck to you!

Read More:

5 Financial Options for an MBA

What is the Cost of Harvard MBA?

Indian IT Applicant: 6 steps to ace MBA Interviews?

Is Work Experience Necessary for MBA?

Full time International MBA Application Requirements & Checklist

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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