Earning your MBA offers you an outstanding opportunity to expand your leadership and business skills, preparing you to seize your professional future. However, getting accepted into an MBA program can be challenging, as most programs come with stiff competition. Knowing what to expect from the process and how you can prepare will help you reduce your stress and increase your chances of success. We will walk you through the application process for MBA programs and the steps you should go through to prepare.
The MBA Application Process
The MBA application process has several stages. Many schools admit students in at least two rounds of student pools, with some even offering three. During round one, most schools receive the smallest batch of applicants, as these applicants must have all the different pieces of their application prepared and put together ahead of time. Applicants may wish to hold off for several reasons, including wanting to finish some extracurricular activities to add to the application.
The second round typically receives the largest batch of applicants. During this round, prospective students have had more time to work on their applications. For example, if you were not happy with the scores you earned on your GMAT, then you might elect to wait for the second round so you can retake it. The deadlines for these applications begin a few months after the deadline for the first round.
Schools that accept a third round of applications typically receive applications from students who did not get admitted into their top choices. Most of the spots that schools have available in their MBA programs also get filled by applicants from the initial rounds of acceptance. Therefore, this third round can be the toughest round of applications to get accepted.
The precise deadlines for each round of applications can vary widely depending on the school. Therefore, you should familiarize yourself with the deadlines of your preferred schools as you begin the application process.
MBA Application Timeline
As you prepare for the application process, you will find that there are many different components to a quality MBA application. To help you stand out as an applicant from the rest of the pool, you want to build a strong application. However, you also do not want to rush this process or create extra stress for yourself by leaving it all until the last minute. Here is our suggested timeline for evaluating schools and preparing your application.
One to Two Years Before Applying
As far as a year or two in advance, you want to start thinking about the potential benefits of earning an MBA in your field and if the degree will be a good fit. Evaluate your professional goals and the types of studies that can help you achieve your goals. You might speak with a mentor in the field and look at the valued skills and degrees for those who reach the heights you want to attain within your profession.
If you feel confident that the MBA will benefit you professionally, start to research the different schools. You will find that various programs might offer different components that you seek, such as a particular concentration, unique mentorship programs, or a history of working with candidates in your desired fields. You will also want to consider factors such as the potential for online versus in-person studies and if you want to study part-time or full-time. This research will help you identify your top programs.
Start the process of identifying your targeted programs early so you can determine what this school looks for in MBA candidates. Now is the time for you to make improvements to your own application and build the extracurriculars that will help you stand out as a candidate.
You can also start reflecting on how you will write your MBA admissions essays and other application components based on the priorities of this school. Schools want to accept students that fit well with the environment they want to nurture in their MBA program, so it behooves you to fill out these different application areas thoughtfully.
It is never too early to start networking, either. Speak with people connected to the program and attend information sessions and events hosted by the school to meet some professors, students, and others connected to the school. This gives you a better feel for the atmosphere you will experience in the program.
Six Months Before Applying
As you begin to approach your application deadline, you’ll need to finalize your school research and start officially preparing your application. You have spent time learning about your targeted programs, and now you want to use that insight to create tailored applications that help you stand out as a student. Note whether your desired school requires the GMAT and under what circumstances. For example, at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC), if you do not meet the GPA requirements, you need a GMAT score. Know the testing requirements and begin preparing your resume or curriculum vitae (CV).
As you work on your CV, consider whom you will approach for recommendations and ask your top picks for letters to submit with your application.
Three Months Before Applying
Three months before you apply to your preferred schools, you will need to complete your testing requirements. Take the GMAT and any other tests needed for your application. You will want to finalize the last pieces of your CV and your application. For example, look over your essays and make sure they align with the traits and message you want to convey. Do not be afraid to edit again and again. You want to put your best foot forward.
Now is also the time to finalize your decision for your concentration. MBA programs will often offer specializations or concentrations. Your selection will impact the types of career paths you follow, so make the decision based on your career goals.
One Month Before the Application Deadline
You are now only one month away from the application deadline. Consider carefully which deadline you want to abide by for your application, depending upon which will give you the strongest presentation. If you have more features to your application that you can add if you wait for the regular deadline, then it would be better to wait. However, if you are already prepared, then submit for the early deadline.
Then, submit your applications and prepare for your MBA admissions interviews. Schools use interviews to gauge traits and soft skills, such as emotional intelligence and communication skills, to see how well you will fit with their program.
Can’t Decide Between Business Schools?
Some students find it challenging to choose between the different schools. You might find multiple programs that seem like a great fit for you and your career aspirations. Fortunately, there are a few key areas you can use to help you make the best choice.
Look at Specializations and Concentrations
First, look at the specializations and concentrations at each school. Examine the specific coursework you will complete and consider which programs align best with your desired career path. This can help you determine which school fits best with your priorities.
Look at Employment Statistics
Next, look at the employment statistics of those who have gone through the program. See how well they fared after graduating to see if you can spot differences in how well each program prepares you for career success.
Talk to Grads and Alumni
Speaking with people who have graduated from the program can also be very beneficial. They can provide insight into how the program operates, such as the value they got from their courses, the opportunities for network-building and mentorship, and how well they felt the degree prepared them for their own career aspirations.
Attend Admissions Events
Attending admissions events offers you a great opportunity to speak to people connected to the university to learn more about the program. You can get a feel for the areas of emphasis for the school leaders and have a chance to speak directly with admissions professionals to learn more about their priorities.
Ask the Right Questions
Know the questions you want to ask about the school before attending any admissions events. Consider the areas that matter the most to you in your studies and formulate questions based on what will be most impactful to your decision.
UTC MBA Application Deadlines
As you sort through your school options, you also want to make note of the different application deadlines of the schools you might want to attend. At UTC, our MBA programs have both early and regular admission deadlines. If you feel confident that UTC, with its flexible and online schooling options, offers the education you need to take the next steps in your professional career, then the early admission option can help you get your application in ahead of the crowd. If you want to take some time to finalize your application to show us how you align with our business school and why you would be a great fit, apply by our regular admission deadline.
Take the Next Steps Toward Your Future
If you are ready to take the next steps toward your future career and begin learning about the difference an MBA can make, consider the MBA program offered at UTC at the Gary W. Rollins College of Business. We look forward to connecting with you.