If you want to earn more money, gain more desirable positions and work in a career that fulfills you, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree can help get you there. Students with all types of undergraduate degrees are seeing the value an MBA degree can provide in terms of career mobility and earning potential. In fact, U.S. News & World Report found that the number of applications for MBA programs steadily increased for most ranked business schools from 2006 to 2016.1
Getting into an MBA program is competitive for good reason. The skills learned in an MBA program translate to enhanced leadership skills and increased business acumen, which can lead to a median starting salary that is $45,000 higher than that for those with only undergraduate degrees.2 And an MBA enables the degree holder to apply for more prominent positions at a wider range of companies.
Getting accepted into an MBA program starts with a solid application. If you're thinking about getting an online MBA from a program like California State University, Monterey Bay, carefully curate each one of these application materials to help you stand out to the admissions committee, so you have a better likelihood of getting into the program.
While having a business degree is not usually required for MBA program acceptance, most programs will require an undergraduate degree of some kind. The classes you took and scores you achieved during your undergraduate education will be conveyed through your transcripts.
The competency demonstrated by your undergraduate grades can be an asset to an MBA application. A strong grade point average (GPA) overall demonstrates commitment to study. And other aspects of your transcript, such as the amount of credits taken or the types of classes you excelled in, can also clue the admissions committee in to your potential as an MBA candidate.
Some business schools may be forgiving of a lower GPA, especially if the candidate has been out of school for a while and has been working professionally. Work experience is highly valuable and may be considered in the same light as recent transcripts.
Sometimes high grades are not the only indicator that a student could thrive in an MBA program. Reference letters, which speak to a candidate's work ethic and experience, are also important.
When you're gathering reference letters for an online MBA program, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Ask for letters from those who know you best. Detailed, practical examples of strong work you've done in the past are key to successful reference letters, as they show the admissions committee how you may perform in an MBA program. This requires that the person writing the letter has worked with you in an extensive capacity. Ask a current or former supervisor with whom you have a good rapport
- Focus on work. Reference letters should come from those who know you in professional settings. The writer should be able to communicate how you work in groups, what type of initiative you take on the job, how you lead and other work-related skills. Candidates who have limited work experience may ask for letters from those closest to them in an educational setting, including professors in whose classes they’ve excelled
- Set your recommenders up for success. Letters should be honest and accurate. But they can’t be unless you give your writers clear directions and as much information as you can about the program and your goals. Set your letter writers up for success by explaining to them why you are interested in the MBA program, what sorts of details you'd like included, and how the work you've done with them applies to the program or your future goals. And of course, give them plenty of advance notice to write the letter: at least a month is common courtesy, and ensures that they aren’t dashing off something half-baked
Asking for letters of recommendation can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be when you already have a solid relationship with those you're asking. Be clear and communicative, provide details, and show gratitude to your letter-writers, and you'll increase the likelihood that the letter will be effective.
A personal statement is where you, the applicant, get to relate your educational and professional journey and your rationale for pursuing an MBA. Read the statement prompt carefully and make sure you address every question that is asked. Although different MBA programs will have different prompts, common questions include: - Why are you applying? - What are some practical ways an MBA will help you in a professional setting? - What skills and competencies have you developed so far in your career, and what skills are you hoping to build? - How has your journey thus far brought you to the application process today?
You'll also want to include work, leadership and management experience in your statement to demonstrate you're ready for the MBA program. And as in your reference letters, specific details about challenging work projects or accomplishments can really enhance your personal statement’s effectiveness.
You may want to write a personal statement in a business narrative format, which shows off your readiness for succeeding in a business world. This type of format also allows for creative storytelling elements that enable you to create a cohesive and compelling presentation of why you belong in the MBA classroom.
GMAT/GRE Test Scores
Some, but not all, MBA programs require GMAT or GRE test scores. These national standardized tests are designed to demonstrate to admissions committees the applicant’s verbal and quantitative skills. Some schools that require these tests may use a baseline average score to determine admittance. Others may average out applicants' scores and use that as a guideline for each incoming cohort.
Some universities, like CSUMB, do not require GMAT/GRE scores. An exemplary score will certainly make your application stand out and may be especially beneficial if your GPA is lacking. However, if you want to save time and money in having to take the test, there's no need to sit for an exam unless the school you are applying to requires it.
For a program like CSUMB’s Online MBA, your resume is a critical tool for demonstrating to the admissions committee your preparedness for the program. Years or decades may have passed since you've been in school. Or maybe you pursued a business career after graduating from college, but don't have a business degree. Perhaps your potential for leadership is demonstrated best through the career growth you've experienced at your company.
A resume shows your drive and gives the admissions committee a better view of your career trajectory. Even students with limited professional work experience can highlight school projects they've worked on, show entry-level work experience they gained while studying or indicate that they've participated in volunteer work. Tailor the resume you submit to an online MBA program in a way that best showcases your business potential.
Interested in an MBA Program? Check Out CSUMB
At CSUMB, our Online MBA program welcomes students with diverse strengths and backgrounds, and our program focuses on responsible business practices. We look for applicants whose affinity for learning will make them assets in their classes. No GMAT or GRE tests are required to apply, but scores that are submitted may be considered during the application process. And with four starts per year, you can submit your application at virtually any time, so you can wait to apply until you’ve prepared the strongest application possible.
The above advice will help your application to the Online MBA program shine. If you have any questions at all about the application, reach out to our Admissions Advisors at 844-302-1424.
1. Retrieved on April 3, 2018, from usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/top-business-schools/articles/2017-12-12/applications-rose-at-most-mba-programs-but-plummeted-at-others
2. Retrieved on April 3, 2018, from gmac.com/why-gmac/gmac-news/gmnews/2015/august-2015/gmac-salary-estimator-tool.aspx