MBA requirement: Find out how you can meet a top MBA requirement

MBA requirement policies vary from one business school to another but one thing is clear: the top business schools in the world set the MBA requirement bar high to attract the best candidates.

But if you are aiming to get the most out of a Master Business Administration degree you may want to look at the fine print of an MBA requirement. As with so many things, the devil is in the details. The MBA requirement details matter a lot depending on where you are in your career. Let's explore that and a few of the other frequently asked questions.

Do I need work experience?
Many of the best MBA programs require you to have gained business experience after finishing an undergraduate degree. But at least one top-ranked business school with a global perspective expects you to have a minimum of three years of experience — the average there is around seven — with managerial responsibilities in an international company.

There's a certain amount of logic to this MBA requirement. Without the right experience, these kind of degrees in business turn into a “mundane academic exercise with little reference,” as one program director put it. Having a group of mature participants with diverse business experience enriches the quality of the learning experience, as well as the dialog and discussion sessions.

Academic ability required
Any credible MBA program seeks talented applicants with demonstrated strong academic ability and the potential to develop leadership skills. Typically, you will need a bachelor's degree or equivalent from an accredited institution.

The other hurdle is having a high GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) score, with most participants at top business schools scoring well over 600 or even 700. The English-language test assesses abilities believed to be important to business and management success.

Some institutions allow entry into business school without GMAT results. This allows talented business managers who have not taken the test to access MBA programs without sacrificing time off from work. But the MBA no GMAT option, which entails other assessments, is usually reserved for Executive MBA programs aimed at business managers well into their careers.

Language skills make a difference
Not surprisingly, a strong command of the English language, both written and spoken, is needed to gain admission in many business schools, even those outside Anglo-Saxon countries. English is widely accepted as the global language of business.

However, top international business schools require knowledge of at least one other language. Written applications for admissions are typically made online in English and other assessments of language skills will be made if you are accepted for an interview.

Letters of recommendation
Supporting documents for admission include letters of recommendation from people who know you well, such as business managers you have worked with, mentors or colleagues. These letters provide an additional assessment of your personality, business achievements and your leadership skills potential.

Sell yourself at the interview stage
If your online application passes an initial assessment, you will be typically invited to an interview, an important part of the selection process. Be prepared to sell yourself and your leadership competencies, even if you've never managed a team. Spaces in the best MBA programs are limited, so the admissions process is competitive.

Many schools provide an online profile assessment that gives you a rough idea of your general fit for a one year MBA.Alumni can also offer valuable tips about their experience on what to expect for an MBA requirement.


IMD business school

Looking for a top 1-year MBA program?
See how the IMD MBA prepared you for the next state of your career - download the free brochure now!


What kind of executive education are you after? How about IMD's: