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How To Get Into an MBA Program

February 09, 2021
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Many professionals aspire to earn an MBA at some point in their careers. By adding an MBA to your existing qualifications and experience, you’ll gain the opportunity to climb the career ladder into high-profile management and directorial positions.

An MBA is one of the most common qualifications held by the world’s top CEOs, business leaders and entrepreneurs,1 regardless of their industries. If you want to join executive management in any type of company, an MBA can be the key. As you consider how to get into an MBA program, discover what you need to crack the tough entry process.

Academic Qualifications

It’s generally accepted that someone pursuing an MBA has already completed a bachelor's degree. By earning your bachelor’s degree, you demonstrate to administrators that you have enough college experience, dedication and academic strength to complete the course. You don’t necessarily need to have a business-related degree, as the skills acquired through an MBA program are applicable to any type of industry. Any qualifications related to statistics, accounting or economics will provide a solid foundation for completing an MBA.2

Professional Experience

MBA admissions officials need to be sure that you’re in a position not only to benefit from their program’s training but also to contribute to classroom discussions. A certain amount of work experience in your field will give universities reason to consider you seriously as a candidate. Some will be looking for a minimum of two years experience, with three years or more being ideal to improve your chances. There is no upper limit to this metric, with many MBA applicants having 10 or more years of experience.

Candidates without sufficient prior experience typically find the course material too difficult, or they lack the ability to offer meaningful input that adds value to the class.3

Essential Soft Skills

In addition to experience and qualifications, successful MBA applicants benefit from specific personal characteristics that prepare them for the success in the business world. Most importantly, these include a high degree of commitment, integrity and focus—attributes often found in the highest-ranking company executives. Leadership skills combined with a collaborative spirit and excellent team management round out the core traits that make a strong MBA applicant.4

Other necessary soft skills include good communication, critical thinking, decision-making and creativity. It may be a cliché, but the ability to ‘think outside the box’ is particularly relevant in regard to business administration. The ability to break molds and take risks with confidence and commitment is a key personality trait that separates outstanding businesspeople from average ones.5

A Strong Application

Once you’ve ascertained that you have the necessary qualifications, experience and personal traits to get into an MBA program, you’ll need to begin preparing your application. A strong MBA application includes a broad spectrum of information regarding experience, education, social engagement and extracurricular activities that exhibit a supportive, collaborative character. Community service and other volunteer pursuits can show your dedication, leadership skills and well-rounded personality. The ability to balance work and social responsibility in a productive manner is an important aspect of business.6

Start considering your MBA application early, possibly as far out as a year prior to the submission date, so you have time to develop and construct a comprehensive portfolio. You’ll also need to spend time visiting and researching several MBA programs to find your best fit. No matter how strong your skills are, if you choose the wrong program, you’re more likely to be unhappy and less likely to finish the course.

Test Scores and Documents

The final, and often most important, part of getting into an MBA program is the provision of prerequisite test scores and documents, which form a part of the application process. These differ from program to program but generally include some or all of the following:6

  • Scores from the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT)—a computer adaptive test to assess analytical, quantitative, writing, verbal and reading skills in English
  • Scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)—a standardized test used by most universities for admissions
  • One or more essays on specific topics
  • Official college transcripts outlining all the courses you have taken
  • A one-page resume, including any recommendations you have received

Keep in mind that some MBA programs, including Marquette’s, offer waivers for GMAT and GRE scores, based on academic or professional achievement.

As you prepare your application, focus on gathering certain elements of this list so that, when the time comes, the application process is as smooth and streamlined as possible. It’s never too soon to start preparing for your MBA.

Stand out in a competitive job market.

The Marquette University online MBA program prepares you with the core business knowledge needed to thrive in any organization. You’ll gain a comprehensive set of essential business skills and leading-edge competencies through study with our faculty innovators and industry veterans.

Waivers for the GMAT/GRE-score requirement are available. Reach out to our Admissions Advisors with questions and start your application today.


  1. Retrieved on November 19, 2020 from investopedia.com/articles/professionals/102015/americas-top-ceos-and-their-college-degrees.asp
  2. Retrieved on November 19, 2020 from onlinemba.com/guide/is-an-mba-right-for-someone-without-a-business-degree/
  3. Retrieved on November 19, 2020 from collegechoice.net/faq/what-are-the-requirements-for-an-mba/
  4. Retrieved on November 19, 2020 from poetsandquants.com/2018/08/08/qualities-to-feature-in-your-mba-application-essays/
  5. Retrieved on November 19, 2020 from usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/articles/2018-04-20/what-it-takes-to-get-accepted-at-a-top-mba-program
  6. Retrieved on November 19, 2020, from mastersportal.com/articles/2634/10-steps-you-need-to-take-to-successfully-apply-for-an-mba-in-2020.html