MBA, MBA Programs, MBA Preparation

MBA Application Requirements: What You Need to Apply

March 31 2023 By The MBA Exchange
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Are you almost ready to submit your application to the MBA program or programs of your dreams? Before you finalize your application packages, make sure you’ve got every “T” crossed, every “I” dotted, and every chance to impress maximized. Wouldn’t it be awful to hit the application deadline, and only then discover that you’re missing key elements that may threaten to stall your climb? Yeah, let’s not do that.

What are MBA Application Requirements?

Earning an MBA degree improves your earnings potential, networking opportunities and cutting-edge professional skill sets. Have you explored all the reasons why an MBA degree could be right for you? When you apply for an MBA program, different parts of your MBA application package show off elements of your skills, experiences and professional promise. 

Your essays let your voice be heard, your letters of recommendation attest to your value and importance in the eyes of people you’ve worked with or for in the past, and your test scores stack you up in direct competition with other current-intake applicants.

After your application package, there are only a few more steps, such as the MBA admissions interview, to get through before you can take your seat. But, before you can find MBA admissions success, you’re going to have to make sure you’ve got everything you need to submit. Here is typically what is required in an application:

Background information

Adcoms want to get a glimpse of the real you, so some personal and family background information is included in most MBA application requirements. You’ll also need to provide a mailing address where you can receive correspondence about your application.

Make sure to include the date of your birth as given on your official documents. You’ll also need to provide information on your parents’ education and employment history, so you might need to do some research for this portion of your application.

If this section of your application contains errors, it can trigger red flags during the background verification part of the acceptance process. Maintaining accuracy the first time around can save you from some stress down the road!


The resume you’ve been using to apply to jobs probably isn’t ready for upload as part of your MBA application requirements, not without some tweaks and changes. The goals of an MBA admissions resume are different from a job application resume in some key ways. Your MBA application resume should be 1-2 pages in length. You’ll need to include your employment history, including dates of employment, job titles, and compensation (in USD). Using strong, directed verbs, indicate what you achieved or accomplished at each position.

List your awards and recognitions, including achievements in the arts or athletics. You can also mention extra-curricular activities ranging from college-level to community service or entrepreneurial ventures. Documentation of your participation is a significant plus, and can often be uploaded with your MBA application.

You may also need to enter information about your employment history and employer as part of your MBA application. Keeping accurate records will help you avoid reporting discrepancies that can raise adcoms’ eyebrows.

Two essays

Application essays mean that you need to find the words to describe your candidacy in about 500 words. That’s a tighter task than you might think until you start drafting and realize what you’re in for! Application essays might seem like more of a burden than an opportunity, at least as you’re getting your application materials together. But your application essays give you the chance to stand out, putting a personalized face and voice to the numbers and dates of the rest of your application materials. 

This is where you can make up lost ground, claim a unique niche that others can’t fill and leave a memorable impression on adcoms. Hitting your essays out of the ballpark is a must for MBA admissions success.

Two letters of recommendation

Letters of recommendation demonstrate your track record of professionalism, excellence and initiative, documenting that people who have worked with you in the past think you’d be worth the investment as a member of an incoming b-school class.

Plan ahead on your letters of recommendation, leaving plenty of time for your recommenders to get back to you. It’s a strong strategy to seek to align the narrative of your candidacy presented in your admissions essays with that appearing in your letters of recommendation so let your recommenders know how you’re going to be positioning yourself when you send them your request for a letter. It can also be a good idea to review your letters of recommendation, or allow your admissions consultant to do so, in order to ensure that they align with your overall application strategy.

GPA / Transcripts

You can include your GPA in your resume, but most MBA programs want you to also have an official transcript sent by the main in hard copy. Get in touch with your college or university to have transcripts sent, often for a small fee.

You may also need to enter a 0-4 scale GPA as part of your application. If you’re an international student with a differently-calculated GPA, we advise zeroing out this section, so that adcoms can review your actual transcripts and accurately convert your grades or marks. Don’t try to convert your GPA yourself, as you may not do so with full accuracy.

What does your college transcript reveal to business schools? In context, transcripts are an incredibly important component of a business school application that reveal:

  • Your resiliency in bouncing back from a sub-par grade by retaking and acing the same course
  • Developing strength in intellectual vitality and study habits by seeing an upward GPA trend from freshman to senior year
  • A breadth of interests through elective classes taken outside of the academic major
  • Quantitative and analytical rigor of courses taken and strength of respective grades
  • Cultural awareness reflected in courses that focus on different geographic regions
  • Self-confidence according to the quantitative or technical rigor of non-required courses
  • Handling personal adversity, such as family or health issues, that impacted performance
  • Passion for learning based on the number of credit hours completed beyond graduation requirements

GMAT or GRE score

Preparing for the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE®), standardized tests that measure knowledge and aptitude, can take up a lot of MBA applicants’ time.

Once you’ve decided on the GMAT or the GRE and earned your best possible test score, it’s time to submit your scores. You shouldn’t average your scores yourself, or try to combine the section scores. Report your test date, and your target program will check the official GMAT score report sent to the school. Make sure adcoms won’t find any discrepancies in your score reports!

If you don’t have a test score, you might be surprised to realize how many MBA programs allow you to waive admissions tests like the GMAT or GRE. You may need to meet the criteria for employment experience or degrees earned. Find out early in your application timeline if you can use a GMAT or GRE waiver at your target schools and decide on opting out of testing. 

English language test score

For international students, a test of English language (TOEFL) score may be needed as part of your MBA application requirements. Give your overall best test score, ensuring accurate reporting.


Review MBA rounds in the current year, note application deadlines and decide on your strategy for timing. It’s not a great look to upload your essays, letters of recommendation, resumes, transcripts or certificates on Deadline Day. Aim for a week or two before D-Day. (That also gives you a convenient time cushion to absorb chance problems that may arise.) Give extra time for elements like letters of recommendation or transcripts that have to travel to you from other hands. Even though your MBA application essays don’t need extra time to travel to and from your workspace, the way that letters of recommendation do, your MBA essays could end up taking more time than any other part of your MBA application requirements package. In other words, don’t procrastinate!