MBA, MBA Programs

The Ultimate Guide for MBA Candidates 2022: MBA Candidate Meaning and More

May 12 2022 By The MBA Exchange
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Before you can be accepted to a Master in Business Administration (MBA) program, you have to succeed as an MBA candidate. And an MBA candidate, meaning someone who’s in the process of applying and being accepted at a business school, is a person who needs to have a firm grasp of the concept of EQ. Here’s what the experts at The MBA Exchange think you need to know.

EQ and MBA Candidate Meaning

While the specific term “Emotional Quotient” or emotional intelligence is not stated in the application instructions at most business schools, this aspect of an MBA candidacy remains an important consideration for admissions committees as they evaluate candidates. What is an MBA candidate? Someone who needs emotional intelligence.

Effective collaboration is an increasingly important and relatively rare skill for business school students. Adcoms want to know that an admit is predisposed to being a team player, both on campus and after graduation. And, business schools are increasingly sensitive to the behavior and ethics of their students and grads. In today’s business world, stories about fraud and manipulation perpetrated by MBAs are all too common. So, examining and vetting the character of applicants is a priority for admissions gatekeepers.

EQ for an MBA Candidate or Student

Many MBA applicants find it difficult to capture and convey EQ-related topics in their applications. It’s easier and more comfortable to rely on resumes and transcripts to position a candidacy. However, disregarding the softer side of one’s past and present will leave it to the adcoms to decide if the applicant is either unaware of the importance of EQ, lacks the expected level of self-awareness and social acuity, or is simply trying to avoid the topic.

So, if you plan to apply to business school this year and find it challenging to understand and address your emotional intelligence, consider engaging the services of an objective, experienced, professional admissions consultant. Based on our work with over 5,000 MBA applicants over the past three decades, The MBA Exchange believes this journey – discovering what makes you who you are – can be just as rewarding as achieving MBA admission.

What Does Being an MBA Candidate Mean?

OK, all well and good, but you might be wondering – what is an MBA candidate? And why are MBA applicants sometimes called candidates? Let’s go in-depth on the term “MBA candidate” and its meaning for adcoms, and for you.

The Difference Between an MBA Candidate and an Applicant

What does being an MBA candidate mean, and how is that different from being an applicant? Well, anyone can submit an application to MBA programs. You can look to the best MBA rankings to find the right schools for you to apply to. In contrast, being an MBA candidate or student means you’ve got your foot in the door and you’re on your way to the professional boost that a completed MBA degree on your resume can give you.

Why are MBA Students Called Candidates?

The term “candidate” comes from the same root as the word “candid.” That means that MBA candidates most of all need to be candid and honest about past achievements, future goals, and current skillsets in order to rise in the intense and often personal world of global business. Know your reason to get an MBA and where you want to go with the added juice that the completed degree will give you, and you’ll get far in the MBA application process.

What Being an MBA Candidate Means for an MBA Student

MBA candidate or student, you should know the facts about why to get an MBA degree.

Are you ready to put an MBA candidate in your email signature? Then it’s time to get started with the application process.

Best Time for MBA Candidates to Apply

The options for when to submit your business school applications can be overwhelming. This year or next year? MBA Round 1 vs Round 2? Rolling admissions, early decision, early action? The process is stressful enough without having to commit to the timing of your applications. We suggest that you start by pondering and answering these questions:

How Selective Are Your Targeted Schools?

Are you aiming for an elite school with a single-digit acceptance rate like Stanford GSB? If so, then take their guidance literally – apply in Round 1 or Round 2. Such MBA programs deny enough highly qualified applicants each year to fill the incoming class at less selective schools. Make it harder for them to turn you away by being one of the first applicants to be considered! You want to be ready for Stanford, Wharton, Harvard, or Rice MBA application deadlines and not wait around for later rounds.

When Will Your Candidacy be Most Competitive?

The primary goal is admission, not the application. If your GPA and GMAT are below average for the school you’re targeting, you have 2 or more years less than the average work experience or you have no non-work leadership roles, then what’s the big hurry?

You can still achieve an MBA with 3.0 GPA, but you might need to consider approaching your admissions campaign as a marathon instead of a sprint. A great way to discover how competitive you are and can become is to request a free, expert evaluation of your candidacy by a professional admissions consultant from The MBA Exchange. What timing feels right for your MBA admissions campaign?

MBA Candidacy Killers: 5 Traits to Avoid

Here are some key attributes that the former MBA admissions officers, interviewers, and grads at The MBA Exchange believe can undermine a candidacy and thus should be shunned without exception if you want our advice on how to ace your MBA admission interviews:


If you have personal, academic, and/or professional successes, then presenting them in a clear, factual manner will make the point without showing you to be a braggart. Adcoms are looking for natural leaders who also know what it means to be players. Convey that you are such an applicant by avoiding self-praise.


Top business schools plow through thousands of applications each year. If you want to know how to put MBA candidates on your resume, help them understand various scenarios and situations while avoiding heavy jargon or assuming understanding. Make it easy for the reader to understand who you are and what you’ve done.


Adcoms want to know about what part of being an MBA candidate has meaning for you. Dig deep and be able to convey your vision and motivation in ways that will not just support your candidacy, but also help the school understand your mission and want to help you achieve it.


Do you make things happen? Or do things happen to you? Do you initiate? Or do you respond? It could be as simple as how you phrase the content of your essays, but business schools quickly get a sense of who moves & shakes vs who sits & waits. What does MBA candidate status mean without initiative? Adcoms are assessing this attribute as they review your application materials. So, step up and convey that you have a clear bias towards action.


Applicants need to send the message that they are ready to hit the deck running if admitted. If you clearly need to improve GMAT scores or pursue a leadership role but don’t do so, you are conveying a negative message. Showing a sense of urgency sends a powerful message that you will add value to classmates, faculty, and the MBA program itself from day one.

What Makes a Good MBA Candidate?

MBA candidates who want to demonstrate high EQ can do so in a variety of ways. For example, in essays and interviews, candidates can describe leadership roles where they not only achieved tangible results but also positively changed the minds and actions of others along the way. Another tactic is to present a failure that ultimately proved valuable in terms of the individual’s long-term growth and development as an ethical professional.

The Qualities of a Good MBA Candidate

Speaking candidly, most MBA candidates or students find it difficult if not impossible to demonstrate all of those strengths. But here’s the list of what you can use to impress MBA adcoms:

Work experience

Your professional career should be fully documented in your application, including compensation, start and end dates, and verb-oriented descriptions of the contributions you made during your employment. At The MBA Exchange, we can help you figure out how to write MBA on your resume next! 

If you’re already established in a career with extensive professional experience, an MBA option for older candidates, like an executive MBA (EMBA) program, could be the right fit for you.

An undergraduate degree with a good GPA

You’ll need to document your academic achievements, as well, as send official transcripts to show your scores. A high GPA is an asset, but the difficulty of your coursework matters to adcoms, as well.

A good GMAT or GRE score

Good GMAT scores are a must for an MBA candidate, and a high percentile doesn’t hurt either.

You’re looking for at least a 720 – unless you opt for the GRE instead! Read more about evaluating the GMAT vs GRE for MBA questions and figure out the right option for your MBA candidacy.

MBA Candidate Meaning and You

Your MBA candidacy has the chance to redefine your life. What is an MBA candidate if not someone on the fast track to the top?! That’s where you want to be.

What does it mean to you to be an MBA candidate? And what’s your EQ? Answer these questions and learn how to list MBA candidates on your resume by getting in touch with the team of MBA admissions at The MBA Exchange today. Request your free MBA candidate evaluation online now.