If the idea of getting an online MBA has you excited, then your next step is to make sure that you can get into a great program. The admissions process for an online MBA program varies from school to school, although there are some commonalities among all of them. If you are about to apply for an MBA program, there are two primary things that you need to worry about: meeting prerequisites and submitting a comprehensive application packet.
Prerequisites for admission into an MBA program generally include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college, completion of foundational undergraduate courses and adequate professional experience. At the very least anyone who wants to pursue a graduate-level education must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. That degree does not have to be in business, and most majors are considered adequate preparation. Although majors can vary, most schools want to see that students were able to maintain a high GPA during their time as an undergrad and that their education equipped them with interpersonal, communication, reasoning, problem-solving and organizational skills.
MBA programs also have course prerequisite requirements to ensure that students possess general knowledge that will help them understand foundational business disciplines. Many schools do not require applicants to complete these prerequisite courses before applying to the MBA program, although they typically must be finished before students begin their MBA studies. Only applicants who did not major in business undergrad will have to take these prerequisites, which introduce such topics as management, finance, marketing and accounting. They may also pertain to general, yet foundational, disciplines that are applied in business courses such as economics, statistics and calculus.
Applicants who need to meet these prerequisites will probably have several options to do so. Prerequisite courses can be taken at another college or university before beginning an MBA program. Some business schools offer certification programs or accelerated preparatory course programs that can also help satisfy prerequisite requirements.
Individuals who want to test out of a course requirement should consider the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP). These comprehensive examinations cover college-level course material within a specific subject and are taken to verify that an individual already has sufficient knowledge in that area. By receiving a satisfactory score on a CLEP, college credit for a course can be earned and applied to fulfill a prerequisite. According to College Board, which developed the program, there are five business CLEPs including Principles of Management, Financial Accounting, Introductory to Business Law, Principles of Marketing, and Information Systems and Computer Applications. There are also CLEP exams for macroeconomics, microeconomics, mathematics, algebra and calculus.
Although most people enroll in graduate programs either directly or soon after completing an undergraduate degree, MBA programs are designed for the experienced professional who has several years of work experience. This is one of the reasons that experience is often a requirement to be accepted into an MBA program. Many business schools have preferences when it comes to applicants’ professional backgrounds, therefore you may have a prerequisite to meet in terms of the minimum number of years you have been working. That number can vary considerably depending on business school, type of MBA program and area of business specialization. Some programs prefer more general experience and may require that applicants have worked full time for two to three years after college. These types of programs want students who can demonstrate that they have experience working in an organizational setting whether it’s business, nonprofit or the public sector. Other programs may be more specific. For example, an MBA program with a management specialization may ask that applicants have three to five years of managerial experience. An advanced program like the Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) can require applicants to have at least seven years of full-time work experience.
Submitting Your Application
Along with becoming familiar with a program’s prerequisites, you should learn what information you will be required to provide in an application packet. Most business schools will have an online application form that you will need to fill out, giving your demographics, professional training, academic credentials, employment history, and personal skills and abilities that are relevant to the program.
Even though it may contain similar information to your application form, a professional resume detailing your professional work experience such as titles held, duties performed, specific responsibilities and significant achievements will also need to be submitted. Providing a quality resume is important because it will give the admissions department a feel for your professionalism and an idea of what you could bring to the MBA program. You may also be asked to submit letters of recommendation from professors, employers or associates who know your work.
Official transcripts from each college you have attended will be required so that admissions officers can examine your educational history to verify degree completion and GPA, as well as approve any applicable MBA prerequisite courses for transfer. You may be given the option to write an application essay or attend an interview to provide further information about why you want to become an MBA, what your career goals are and what makes you a good candidate for the program. Many applicants may be required to submit their scores from the GMAT.