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Eligibility Criteria & Application Requirements for MBA Programs in the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, and the UK
Undergraduate Education: B-schools abroad require their students to have verifiable undergraduate education from accredited/recognized institutions. Possessing a 4 year UG degree is a safer bet.
US business schools require all international students who wish to pursue graduate studies to have a relevant 4 year undergraduate degree from a recognized institution. If you have completed a 3 year UG program you might need to do an additional bridge program, or one year diploma program, or undertake a 2 year master’s before applying for US business schools.
Similar to the US, Canadian business schools prefer students to possess a 4 year UG degree. If you have a 3 yr bachelor’s degree, you could consider a Graduate Certificate Program that could be completed in less than 1 year to become eligible to study a masters in Canada.
Australian B-schools consider 3 year UG programs, but they will also look into the university affiliation and standing of your undergraduate institution before providing an offer. But some Australian universities are known to ask for 4 year degrees too. Hence applicants must be thorough in the verification with each university on their requirements.
All German B-schools mandate a 4 year UG degree or equivalent.
UK business schools accept 3-year UG programs. While considering your applications they will look for the quality of undergraduate degree, and program, as well as ranking/affiliation of your university.
This is a crucial criteria for MBA admissions. All universities expect their applicants to possess rich work exposure and industry experience. If candidates are able to demonstrate promotion via growth in the levels of responsibilities and designations they have handled, it will be an added advantage.
Applicants with diverse work experiences, i.e. in different fields, are also considered based on the relevancy to the concerned MBA track. There is no such thing as the correct years of work experience to have, but 2 years or less is considered too little and 5 years plus might make you eligible for the executive MBA. Generally for the full time MBA 3 to 5 years experience is considered prudent, while executive MBA programs are for candidates with vast experience, a minimum of at least 5 years experience is needed.
Additionally, more than just the number of years of work, the quality of your work experience matters with regards to levels of leadership, technical acumen and problem solving skills that you have displayed at your workplace and in your projects with clients. Gaps in your resume/work life will need to be explained through say an optional essay. B-Schools will expect candidates to explain what caused the gap, and list the skills/experiences they gained during the employment gap.
Leadership & Problem Solving Ability:
All b-schools actively search for applicants with proven leadership capacity and demonstrated problem solving abilities in their past life prior to b-school. As an applicant you can highlight the supervisory roles you have held while at college/university, work, outside of work, volunteering initiatives, etc. Chronologically, the most recent happenings would take importance. Any instance where you have helped others, your teammates, peers at university, colleagues from a social endeavour, will showcase your organizational management and team building nature. All this greatly adds up to your profile being considered as suitable for the MBA program. The admissions committee of any b-school welcomes candidates with not just intellectual vivacity but also the ability to take on challenging obstacles, lead a team amicably to find enterprising solutions.
Standardized Test Scores:
All MBA programs require students to provide GMAT scores. International students, non-native speakers of English will need to take the IELTS/TOEFL to show English language proficiency.
GMAT - Any score above 650 will be useful. Some b-schools might consider applicants between the 500 to 650 margin. Anything above the 700 range is a very good score and will put you at an advantage while applying to b-schools.
IELTS - Minimum 6.5 or above. Top universities will mandate a 7.0 or 7.5+ score.
TOEFL - Minimum of 80 and above. A 100+ score would increase chances of admission into higher ranked universities.
In the US the average GPA required for MBA programs amongst top ranked universities is around 3.53 and amongst the lower ranked universities is around 3.37. It is safe to say that a minimum of 3.0 plus would be required from any applicant. Similarly, most Canadian universities also require a minimum of 3.0/4 GPA for their MBA programs, this seems to be the norm for b-schools in Germany, Australia and the UK as well.
The above does not mean an applicant with low GPA scores doesn’t stand a chance. A rich mosaic of work experiences, good trajectory within an organization can compensate for the low scores in college. Moreover, while looking into the transcripts the admissions committee does consider the difficulty level of the subject major, scores in quantitative modules, etc.
Applicants could also undertake certificate courses outside of their academic institution and show those results as evidence of their interest in certain subjects. Since admissions councils consider an application holistically, they will look for all round growth of the candidate in multiple spheres of their profile. Hence, a low GPA will necessarily not sound the death knell of your MBA dreams.
All MBA programs have more than one admissions essay. Also, essays for MBA programs vary b-school to b-school. The essay questions are framed keeping in mind the admission committee’s need to find out about the candidates’ proclivity to business, managerial capacity, negotiation, team working skill, project initiation, and project management ability, etc.
Commonly asked questions are the expected ones expecting students to describe their ambitions/ short term and long term plans, life/ academic/ work experiences, why study MBA?, why study MBA in this particular b-school?, and what after the MBA?.
B-schools are also asking certain unique questions in trying to nudge the applicants to think out of the box and provide creative answers in a different manner/structure.
Some sample MBA admissions essay questions that are different:
- Describe yourself to the admissions committee and to your future classmates using six images and corresponding captions. (NYU)
- What matters most to you, and why? (Stanford)
- Taking into consideration your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community? (Wharton)
- What makes you feel alive when you are doing it, and why? (Haas-Berkeley)
- List 25 random things about yourself. (Duke)
- Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? (Kellogg-Northwestern)
In addition to the above, most b-schools seem to have an optional essay question, this question asks candidates to come forth with any additional information regarding their profile that the admissions committee might need to know, that is not already provided in any of the other essays. Students can use this essay to explain certain gaps in their work life due to personal reasons, or explain any other extraneous happenings that might have affected their previous work experience or academic exposure.
All the essay questions generally have specific word limits/character limits provided alongside them such as – 500 words, 3000 characters, etc. In the rare case that no word constraint is mentioned, applicants are expected to stick to the 2 page rule. Less is more in this case, impactful essays can be written concisely.
Letter of Recommendations (LoR):
MBA programs require their applicants to submit at least 2 or more professional recommendations. One letter will be mandated from your current workplace superior/reporting personnel. The admissions committee looks for confirmation from work place recommenders on the applicant’s profile, leadership prowess, managerial/team working ability, client feedback, project management expertise, problem solving skills, etc. This implies, your letter must describe your workplace projects and anecdotes that emphasize your professional dexterity, and provide sufficient examples supporting your candidature to the MBA program.
Students must ensure their choice of recommenders have interacted with them for at least a year or more, only then can valuable feedback be given in the LoRs. An important/major client can also be a recommender. More than the title/workplace designation of your recommender, the professional relationship that you have shared with the recommender is given higher weightage. The recommender via his/her letter must be able to attest to your professional milestones or accomplishments, interpersonal relations with your peers in the workplace, and your contribution in the organizational environment.
Generally academic references are discouraged and do not add much value in the MBA application process. This is due to the nature of the MBA programs. Since they are very practically inclined and application oriented, most b-schools want to gauge the industry readiness and exposure of the applicants, rather than just their intellectual potential. Moreover, the GMAT and transcripts of applicants will be used for that purpose.
A standard business resume or CV will be expected. Applicants must be mindful to not miss out on details and include all relevant information regarding their full-time employment history; internships or apprenticeships; part-time work history; volunteer activity; educational qualifications; extra-curricular pursuits & sports; special achievements & awards, if any.
Please note, some universities might ask for a 1 page resume, then ensure you follow the requirement. If not, depending on your profile and work history your resume may extend beyond a page, but double-check with the b-school on resume length stipulations. Remember a lengthy resume does not always reflect an impactful work life. Most b-schools expect a pdf version to be uploaded. They might also mention the maximum file sizes allowed such as 10MB. Unnecessary graphics and pictures in the resume are discouraged.
Almost all b-schools in the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, and the UK conduct interviews as part of their admissions process. The interviews are an opportunity for the admissions committee to further assess your interpersonal skills and communication ability. Commonly you would be asked questions on your past work and life experiences, your career plans and motivations in applying for the MBA program, how you can contribute to the b-school and why you are keen in attending their university. The interviews are conducted in English and generally do not exceed an hour.
Some universities conduct interviews only by invitation, that implies not all candidates are interviewed. Interview invitations are considered a positive sign for students, but they are not a sureshot indication of guaranteed admission. Interviews for international applicants are held virtually. These interviews are conducted by admissions committee members, alumni, or senior MBA fellows (2nd year MBA).
As the above mentioned criteria’s have made it abundantly clear, there is no linear check all boxes approach for securing an admission into a coveted MBA program. Your undergraduate degree, GPA, work experiences, leadership skills, problem solving ability, essays, recommendations, interview are all considered together as a wholesome package while deciding if you are suitable for the MBA program at that particular b-school. It is true that straight-A students with an excellent professional record and great GMAT score will find it easy to secure admits, but MBA schools are also in the lookout for candidates with passion, self-starting ability, who can harness their strengths and manage their weaknesses. Even if you lack in certain areas, you could compensate via performance in other factors.
MBA Application Deadlines
Most b-schools follow a rounds system, wherein there can be anywhere between 3 to 5 rounds inviting applications for their upcoming MBA programs. It is common knowledge that earlier rounds imply b-schools would be having more spots/spaces in their MBA cohorts. So being an early bird does have its perks in terms of scholarship availability and admission odds. The above being said, b-school admissions committees do expect fully completed/best versions of the applications, rather than subpar/incomplete early submissions. Particular b-schools do give out corresponding acceptances after each round.
Most US and Canadian follow the traditional rounds system in the MBA application process. Some b-schools strictly have only 3 rounds, while certain others have 4 to 5 rounds. Certain exceptions include the Columbia business school that follows rolling admissions. Most MBA programs in the US and Canada require 2 years for completion.
Chicago Booth (USA) 2022 Intake
SUNY Buffalo (USA)
Dec 2020 (Priority deadline for international applicants)
Round 5 Jun 2021
McGill - Desautels (Canada) Fall 2021
UBC Sauder (Canada) Aug 2021 Intake
Europe: UK & Germany
In contrast with the US & MBA programs that run for 2 years, many european b-schools in Germany and the UK offer 1 year MBA programs. Thereby, admission deadlines vary since many programs have intakes in January. Notably, German business schools such as the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management and the Otto Beisheim Graduate School of Management – WHU have deadlines indicating scholarship availability and even discounts on your tuition based on how early you apply to the program. Though certain established names such as the London Business School, Cambridge – Judge Business School, follow the system of application rounds.
Frankfurt School of Finance & Management
Nov 2020 (Early Bird - EB discount)
Jan 2021 (EB discount)
April 2021 (EB discount)
Camridge - Judge (UK)
Imperial College London - Imperial Business School (UK)
Australian b-schools have multiple rounds inviting applications. All universities encourage international applicants to apply early on in the admissions cycle.Please verify with the concerned university on the last deadline accepting international student applications. MBA program duration varies between 16 months to 24 months, depending on the university and MBA concentration. Some universities offer an immersive 2 year experience as well as a fast track 18 month option in their full time MBA program. Interestingly, Macquarie Business School – Macquarie University offers 4 intakes every year with 2 rounds for each intakes (a separate deadline for international applicants). Their program duration is between 1.5 – 2 years.
Melbourne Business School - University of Melbourne
Round 5 June 2021
Business School - University of Sydney (Australia)
Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM) - UNSW
Nov 2020 - April 2021
Best Country to do MBA : Comparative Table
|Average Tuition Fee Ranges (Course Completion)*||USD $50,000 to $90,000 |
(INR - 36 Lakhs to 65 Lakhs)
|CAD $40,000 to $80,000 (INR - 25 Lakhs to 50 Lakhs)||AUD $40,000 to $70,000 (INR - 23 Lakhs to 40 Lakhs)||EUR €10,000 to € 40,000 (INR - 9 Lakhs to 36 Lakhs)||GBP £25,000 to £55,000 (INR - 26 Lakhs to 57 Lakhs)||MBA programs generally are a costly affair. Most elite b-schools in the US, Canada, Australia, UK have very high tuition fees in the ranges of $90K to $100K. That being said, in Germany, many prestigious b-schools have tuition fee options that are lesser than their US/UK counterparts. Public/State Funded Universities in Germany have very nominal fee or even charge zero tution fee for their MBA programs. The above being said, many middle/lower ranked b-schools in the US, Canada, Australia, and UK do have very economical tuition fee costs between $25K to $50K.|
|Average Living Expense Ranges (Per Year)||$13,000 to $30,000 (INR - 9 Lakhs to 22 Lakhs )||CAD $10,000 to $25,000 (INR - 6 Lakhs to 15 Lakhs)||AUD 16,000 to AUD 26,000 (INR - 9 Lakhs to 15 Lakhs)||EUR €7500 to €15,000 (INR - 6.5 Lakhs to 13 Lakhs )||GBP £9,000 GBP to £16,000 (INR - 9 Lakhs to 17 Lakhs)||Living expenses vary city to city. Large metropolitan locations come with higher accommodation/rent, electricity, transport, food, utility and other allied charges. Correspondingly, smaller semi-urban locales have lesser living costs associated with them. This holds true for all the countries. As an international student the currency exchange rate will also impact your costs. So a student studying in New York (USA)will face higher charges in comparison with a student studying in say Leipzig (Germany). Moreover, the standard of living and kind of lifestyle you wish to maintain will have a hughe bearing on the expenses.|
|Program Duration||Predominantly 24 months, some 12/18 months programs||24 months, 18 months, 12 months.||24 months, 18 months, 16 months,12 months.||Predominantly 12 month programs, 18 to 24 month programs available too||2 year MBA programs are common place in the US and Canada. Though few universities in Canada do offer accelerated MBA programs for 18 months/12months. In the UK and Germany many b-schools have 1 year MBA, some have 2 year/ 18months option also. Australian b-schools have MBA program durations of varying length.|
|Scholarship Opportunities||The US, Canada, Australia, Germany, and the UK, all provide a wide variety of scholarships to international MBA applicants. MBA Scholarships can be provided by the universities and can also be offered by third party institutes/government bodies/CSR initiatives. University/b-school sponsored scholarships/fellowships are generally given to the top 1- 2% of the applicant pool.||MBA programs in general are quite costly. Realizing this many b-schools do offer their own need-based/ merit-based scholarships. Need-based scholarships depend on the economic/financial background of the candidates. Merit-based scholarships are soley based on your academic credentials or specifc extracurricular expertise. Irrespective of which university/ government body/ third party institute is offering the scholarships, there will be multiple criterias that students must qualify in order to be eligible for scholarship application. Most scholarships cover part of the tuition fee, or living expenses, travel allowances, etc. Very rarely some outstanding/exceptional students with financially weak backgrounds might be given full tuition waiver.|
|GMAT or GRE requirements||GRE accepted widely in place of GMAT||GMAT Predominance, GRE acceptance is gaining traction.||Students must check with individual b-schools if GRE is accepted in place of GMAT. ETS.com provides a list of schools accepting GRE instead of GMAT .|
|Without GRE or GMAT||Handful of universities/b-schools in these countries consider candidates without the GMAT/GRE for their MBA programs. Most of these universities are lower ranked. Many Executive MBA/Part-time MBA programs do not mandate a GMAT/GRE score.||In the USA, Canada, Australia, Germany and the UK, certain B-schools are accepting students without the GRE/GMAT. There might be some other stipulations such as fixed years of work experience; GMAT/GRE waiver for students who have passed certain other professional qualifications such as the CPA, CMA, CIA, etc.|
Popular Specializations based on Job Market
|Specializations such as General Management, Finance, IT/Technology Management, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, are popular across all the countries.|
In recent years, B-schools are increasingly offering a wide variety of specializations keeping in mind the job market, prevailing economic conditions, and to cater to a wider prospective applicant pool. Depending on high performing star sectors of a country any corresponding concentration will do better, i.e. have more takers. Depending on which sector performs better more job opportunities will open in that avenue. This scenario can change every year. So preferences in terms of MBA specializations will also differ year to year. In the US the IT/Technology Management/MIS/Engineering Management concentrations have a lot of competition and their graduates find jobs quickly due to the sheer number of jobs in the sector. Similarly, Project Management/Operations Management/ Manufacturing/ Production Management specializations have higher demand in Germany, due to the size of the manufacturing/science/engineering arena. Candidates with experiences relevant to the MBA specialization they wish to undertake stand a higher chance of being more successful in the job market. Since any recruiter looks for candidates with prior exposure to the concerned field.
|International students flock to STEM MBA concentrations such as Finance, Analytics, Accounting, IT/ Technology Management, etc. Strategic Management, Entrepreneurship, and Marketing, also attract a lot of students.||International Management, IT/Technology Management, Data Analytics Management, Human Resources/Organizational Developement.||Finance, Technology/IT, Production/ Operations/ Manufacturing Management, Logistics/Supply Chain Management, Marketing.||Engineering Management/Technology Management, Production/Manufacturing/Operations Management, Strategic Management.||Finance/ Banking/ Investment Management, Accounting, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, International Management, Technology Management.|
|The figures provided under the average tuition fee ranges have been approximated and are bound to change/increase every year. Please check with concerned university authority on exact tuition fees.|