When is The Best Time for An MBA?
The Masters in Business Administration (MBA) is a professional degree that seeks to integrate leadership, management experiences and team projects into the classroom environment. The broadly trained and highly skilled individuals are able to assume positions in a wide variety of settings (e.g., corporate, healthcare, nonprofit, entrepreneurial).
Experience is a key factor in selection of applicants for most schools. Although there are business schools that will accept students directly from an undergraduate program, the more competitive graduate programs in business are typically looking for two to four years of experience. They are very willing, however, to consider experience from a range of industries and opportunities (corporate, nonprofit, entrepreneurial, government service). As long as you have developed the quantitative, analytical, teamwork, leadership, communication, and other skills business schools seek, you can still be a competitive applicant without "traditional" business experience.
Individuals often place more emphasis on which schools might accept them than focusing on which schools are best for them based on their interests and goals. Schools vary in curriculum, specialty areas, teaching methodologies and overall atmosphere. It is important that you consider a number of factors before you begin the application process.
The academic environment, career development and employment options, quality of life issues and financial requirements are all contributing factors to your overall satisfaction in any graduate program. The reputation of a school and published rankings will not give you the complete picture of the school. That information is useful in the decision process but it is not a guarantee of personal satisfaction for each applicant.
There are a number of places online where you can get more information about business careers and MBA programs. Be sure to look at the links provided at the bottom of this page. The Graduate Management Admissions Council
is a wonderful site for exploring various programs, financial assistance information and a calendar of events.
Application Time Frame
Many schools have multiple application rounds, with final deadlines typically falling between March and April. It is in your best interest to apply early, as many admissions decisions will be made prior to the official deadline. Applications may be reviewed as early as October and November, but be sure to read each schools' information regarding deadlines and admissions procedures. The popularity of the MBA degree has created a very competitive atmosphere, such that it has become increasingly important to submit applications early for the greatest chances of success in being admitted.
Essays are extremely influential in the business school admission process. Some applicants to business school sometimes assume that grades, GMAT scores, or the prominence of their past employers will be more significant; however, MBA programs read essays carefully.
The manner in which you express your work experience and discuss your goals and achievements, both professional and personal, can have a major impact on the final outcome of your application. It is critical that your interests are in keeping with the programs that you have selected.
Be sure to allocate sufficient time to the preparation of your essays. Most MBA applications require at least four essays, but some schools, such as Harvard, require even more. Essays should be written for each school rather than attempting to develop four or five standard versions. There is a fair amount of variation among schools in the topics that they would like addressed.
Many business schools require or offer optional interviews. The MBA admissions interview is similar to an employment interview. You are given the chance to highlight your accomplishments, skills, strengths, and personal qualities. The focus of the interview will be your work experience, the benefit of an MBA to you at this point in your career, and the goals that you wish to achieve. It is also wise to carefully review your research about the program prior to an interview, so that you are clear as to why you wish to pursue an MBA and why their program fits your goals. The interviews may be conducted by the admissions staff, faculty members or, in some cases, alumni of the school.
If you are offered the opportunity for an optional interview, in most cases you should accept. Because they extended the interview option to you, it could be a signal that they are interested in you as an applicant but hope to learn a bit more. It also provides you with a wonderful opportunity to gather more information that will help you make a decision about whether or not this program is a good fit. If you have questions about how to best prepare for these interviews, you may speak with a counselor in Career Services and also use the Alumni Careers Network
to gather advice from other alumni who have been through the process.